Health check for Lake Wanaka

  • Otago
  • 1/08/2022
  • Bruce Quirey

Health check for Lake Wanaka

Otago Fish & Game will monitor the health of Lake Wānaka after trout went off the bite for many anglers in the 2021-2022 fishing season.

Lake Wānaka anglers spent an average of seven hours fishing for every fish caught last season, Otago Fish & Game officer Ben Sowry says.

“There could be several possible reasons why the fishing was slow,” Mr Sowry says.

“Hot summer temperatures probably influenced the fishing from January to March as fish moved deeper to cool waters.”

Many anglers were concerned with the Lake Wānaka fishery this season, he says.

“Catch rates fluctuate from season to season, but we want to look closely at the health of this reknowned fishery.”

The catch rate in Lake Wānaka for brown trout sank from 0.13 fish per hour in the 2020-2021 season to 0.06 last season. For rainbow trout, the rate fell from 0.09 to 0.07.

Fish & Game plans several projects to study the fishery more, including underwater acoustic surveys, a proposed lakes monitoring workshop, and further interviews with anglers to monitor their catches.

Acoustic surveys will study trout and salmon populations in lakes Wānaka, Wakatipu and Hāwea.

Fish & Game ran angler surveys ­­on Lake Wānaka – interviewing anglers and measuring and weighing their catches – for the past three fishing seasons.

Anglers spent less time fishing last season compared with previous surveys, and the trout they harvested were in poorer condition.

The survey interviewed 211 anglers, who put in a total of 234 hours of fishing. Almost 190 caught no fish.

Only one salmon was recorded during surveys, however, Fish & Game received many reports of salmon caught in the lake during the season.

“Anecdotally, salmon catches are improving a little in Lake Wānaka year on year, but their numbers are low compared with past years.”

Angler surveys will be conducted on Lake Hāwea for the next three years, but Fish & Game staff will be out on all lakes this season checking angler compliance.

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