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The one that didn’t get away . . . Former Glenavy man Gareth Evens with the hefty salmon he caught in the Waitaki River. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The salmon are back and running.

The salmon fishery in the Waitaki River has made a real improvement this season and some big fish have been landed.

Reports of fish weighing more than 9kg being caught in the river — and at the mouth — have shown the fishery has improved from the past three years when it had failed to produce many good fish. In fact, it may be better than some are letting on due to a restricted bag take.

Fish and Game Central South Island ranger Rhys Adams said historically the Waitaki River salmon run had been one of the best in the country.

But for the past three seasons, returns had been poor for various reasons, including ocean changes, water quality and water flow.

It was hard to say whether the better returns this year was a sign it was getting back to normal or was just a one› off, he said.

Sea conditions had been favourable at the mouth. Many of the anglers were using jet›boats to get around, moving from pool to pool further up the river to find the best fish.

The river had been flowing highly in the past few weeks as a result of rain spilling over the main divide, so the fish were there, but sometimes it was hard to find them.

The season limit had changed from being a daily limit to a season limit of two per angler.

Some anglers were believed to be not reporting catches as it would limit their two per season limit.

Mr Adams said it would need five years of data to show where the fishery was heading.

Before 2000, the fishery was in good state . But since then it had been erractic and it had been poor for the past three years.

Glenavy Hotel publican Tonni Andersen said it had been a very good season. Most anglers came into the hotel to get their catch weighed and a photograph taken with the fish.