Recreational fishing in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, and its tributaries, includes the fishing of brown trout, pātiki/flounder, tuna/eel, coarse fish species such as perch, and whitebaiting when the lake is open to the sea.
Good numbers of sea-run trout are present when the lake is open and brown trout fishing in the lower reaches and at the mouths of inflowing streams can be excellent.
Some of the primary lake locations currently used by recreational fishers include the lower reaches of the Selwyn River, the mouth of Harts Creek, Huritini/Halswell River and canal mouth, Irwell River, the lower reaches and mouth of Kaituna River, the lake opening area and various other lake areas for tuna/eel, pātiki/flounder, mullet and īnunga/whitebait.
Te Waihora an important mahinga kai and customary fishing area
Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is an important mahinga kai and customary fishing is important.
Ngāi Tahu have identified areas within the lake as kōhanga/recreational and customary fishing only and there are also fisheries regulations restricting the use of nets at river mouths and on the type of gear to be used.
Permits are required for customary fishing, administered by Tangata Tiaki, where customary catches are within recreational bag limits or regulations, they do not require a customary permit, and are managed as recreation.