Reports of a world-record brown trout catch in the Mackenzie hydro canals have been circling throughout the angling community but finding the elusive angler is proving a challenge to authorities.
Eyewitnesses have reported seeing an angler land a 24.9kg (55 pound) brown trout in the Pukaki-Ohau A canal, near Twizel, sometime within the past 10 days.
If confirmed, it would be a new world record for a brown trout.
But, Central South Island Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams said confirming the potentially record-breaking monster trout has proven difficult.
“Secrecy surrounds the catch and we want to solve the mystery,” Adams said.
“This is an amazing fish and we would love to confirm it but at the moment, the lucky angler is keeping quiet.
“Because of the international significance of the catch, we would like to hear from anyone who has more information or details.”
According to the International Game Fish Association website, the present record is a 19.1 kg (42lb 1oz) fish caught in the same canals in 2013.
The Mackenzie basin hydro canals have a reputation in New Zealand and overseas for consistently producing huge trout.
In September 2016, Nelson fisherman Bryce Helm caught a brown trout in a canal near Twizel which tipped the scales at 19.05kg.
In 2013, Otwin Kandolf, reeled in a 19.1kg trout in the Ohau Canal.
CSI Fish and Game communications officer Richard Cosgrove said the canals were a haven for large, trophy-size fish, partly due to the presence of extra feed from the salmon fishery operations, but also due to the large population of fish.
“There is a pretty good chance of catching a trophy-size fish in the hydro canals,” Cosgrove said.
He said the lucky angler was keeping a low profile.
“Whoever it was, he obviously knows how to look after the fish. He’s kept it in good condition, and from what we understand, taken it straight to the taxidermist,” Cosgrove said.
“We understand that we will find out the person’s identity once the fish has been mounted.”
Adams hoped the latest monster brown trout catch could be confirmed.
“It’s much rarer to catch an exceptionally large brown trout – only about one percent of browns caught in the canals fall into this category, so it would be nice to make this official.
“The size of these trout just reinforces how good New Zealand’s trout fishing is. If we can confirm this brown trout record, then the next thing is setting a new world record for rainbow trout,” Adams said
“The present record is 21.77kgs – 48 pounds – for a rainbow trout caught in Canada in 2009.
“It would be nice to challenge that but even if we can’t, anglers will enjoy trying.”