A team from the hatchery spent Sunday morning riparian planting at the spring headwaters of McKinnons creek on the farm of Henry Bolt. The team supplied some plants (Carex Sectors) and helped with the work which will ultimately be of benefit to water quality in the creek itself.
The lack of male fish returning to the hatchery this season has resulted in the hunt for a couple of men fish from the headwaters to help out down stream at McKinnons creek. Some Fish & Game staff and hatchery helpers travelled to Mt Potts area on the hunt however only one male fish was secured. He was brought back to the hatchery and has already been put to good use. A couple of fish have been stripped and their fertilized eggs are in the incubator.
Xmas has come and gone and we have lived in hope of a better adult return to the hatchery this year. So far it is slightly improved from last season in that we have 7 female and 1 male fish in the trap. This is 100% better than previous and will give us around 18,000 eggs all things being equal.
The 300 or so brood stock we kept back are doing well and are on track for being used to some degree or other next year as brood stock.
Teams have been looking after these fish each weekend and some work has continued at the hatchery on most days. The focus at present is getting the incubators cleaned out and operating and tanks and other equipment sterilized
The recent 1000m3 flood in the Rangitata did not bring any Rangitata water into the hatchery. McKinnons Creek access to fish has had to be enhanced a couple of times with some excavation to clean it out and divert some water closer. It will always be a challenge due to the changing nature of the braided river.
From our own counts,70 fish were taken in the lower reaches on the South side with 20 on the North side of the Rangitata. Long term counts of redds will be completed in earl June however early indications are that it might be on a parr with last year..
Possible new plans for hatcheries such as ours!
One of the proposals being discussed at a high level, is for brood stock to be obtained as juvenile wild salmon in each fishery, then raised for 3 years in a central hatchery location. At maturity each river’s brood stock would be stripped and fertilised and ova returned to the on-river hatcheries for raising through to release on-site. This process relieves hatcheries of the need to trap returning adults and fertilise and incubate ova. In theory all returning adults should be available for anglers to catch and regulation could be introduced that encourage catch or hatchery origin over wild fish. Watch this space.