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A long search for the birthplace of Lake Wānaka for spawning land-locked Chinook salmon has raised hopes of protecting their struggling population. Otago Fish & Game has been surveying Southern Lakes tributaries for five years found salmon spawning sites in the Hāwea and Wakatipu catchments, but the location of Wānaka sites remained a mystery until now. Cromwell-based Otago Fish & Game officer Mason Court says the Wānaka salmon spawning salmon were spotted this winter in an unnamed tributary of the Makarora River during an on-foot survey of possible historic spawning locations. Fish & Game had taken eDNA water samples from Makarora River and they had tested positive but spawning salmon had not been visually sighted. He says like all Pacific salmon, Chinook salmon die after spawning, and their remains are quickly consumed by birds, mammals, trout and eels. They vanish from sight with barely a trace. The bright-silver fish weigh up to 1kg and are highly regarded for their eating qualities. Anyone who sights salmon in the Wānaka catchment river system is asked to contact Otago Fish & Game.