Lure of the mighty Clutha/Mata-Au hard to resist for anglers

  • Otago
  • 18/12/2023

Lure of the mighty Clutha/Mata-Au hard to resist for anglers

The highly productive Clutha River/Mata-Au has claimed bragging rights as the most-fished river in New Zealand.

The river, which tallied about 31,000 angler days in a newly released survey, also topped the list of most popular places to fish in Otago.

Pictured: Visiting angler Charles Rangeley-Wilson with a brown trout caught in the lower Clutha/Mata-Au this month. Photo: Ian Hadland, Otago Fish & Game

"It’s no surprise the mighty Clutha River/Mata-Au is so popular with anglers,” Otago Fish & Game chief executive Ian Hadland said.

“People keep coming back to this river as it’s highly productive and accessible at so many places as it flows from Lake Wānaka to the sea for more than 300km.”

Closer to Dunedin, the lower Taieri was the region’s second-most popular river fishery behind the Clutha.

"Fish & Game understands how important these rivers are to anglers and it’s why we have such a high level of focus environmentally to advocate for the health of these catchments,” Mr Hadland said.

The findings are revealed in the just released 2021-2022 National Angler Survey Report completed by Niwa for Fish & Game.       

The survey, conducted every seven years, records angling activity for all lake, river and canal fisheries managed by Fish & Game. 

Data was collected on the number of angling days for each fishery   ̶  one angler fishing on one day, irrespective of the number of hours spent fishing.

About 15,000 people were surveyed across the 2021-2022 season.

The upper Clutha catchment was the most highly fished with lakes Wakatipu, Wānaka, Dunstan and Hāwea rounding out the top five most popular spots in the region.

“This data also helps to direct our compliance focus on where fishing activity is at its highest. Rangers will be out checking licences at all these fishing hot spots this summer.

“Be sure to carry your licence on you and remember our rangers are always happy to offer fishing tips if asked.”

Otago Fish & Game region had one of the highest uptakes of fishing licences nationally at almost 8% of the population.

This rate was only surpassed by neighbouring regions Central South Island (15%), Southland (10%), showing the importance of freshwater fishing to residents of the lower South Island. West Coast (7%) was the fourth-ranked.

“It shows how much freshwater fishing is an integral part of the lifestyle in the lower half of the South Island,” Mr Hadland said.

“Make the most of your opportunities these holidays to get out and reconnect with nature among family and friends.”

Anglers in Otago showed a slight preference for lakes with just over half of sports fishing occurring in still waters.

Reflecting Queenstown’s importance as an international tourism resort, Lake Wakatipu was the third-most fished Fish & Game-managed lake in the country.

The Dunedin reservoirs, Southern and Sullivans, both showed a high level of use that has increased since the surveys began in 1994.

Mr Hadland said both reservoir fisheries were maintained by hatchery releases.

"The numbers show that people strongly value the opportunity to fish close to home,” Mr Hadland said.

“Spending time in nature is proven to be good for mental health and wellbeing, and fishing is a perfect way to escape the everyday worries and stresses of life.”

For fishing access information for Otago rivers, streams, lakes and dams, go to:

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