Reel Life April 2024 - Southland

  • Southland
  • 26/04/2024

Reel Life April 2024 - Southland

Season wrap up

  • It’s been nice to have a ‘normal’ season after the previous few have been interrupted with lock downs, travel restrictions and closed borders. The only disruption now is from the weather!
  • It’s been great to welcome international anglers back to our fisheries. However, the number of international anglers is still approximately 30% below pre-COVID levels. We anticipate that more will visit our fantastic fisheries next season. 
  • A markedly wetter summer than the previous two. Periodic rain events meant certain waterways were unfishable and that caused anglers to congregate on the rivers that remained fishable. This trend was quite noticeable this season. 
  • Our new online maps have been a hit. It now has a location tracking feature, similar to Google Maps. We’ve got further upgrades in the pipeline for next season too. 
  • Beat Systems – nearly all the feedback we received on the upper Mataura beat system has been positive. These beats remove any ambiguity by informing visitors (both local & international) of how to approach the river, while still allowing locals to fish in their established manner. The only complaint we get is that there aren’t riverside beat markers at the beat boundaries… watch this space. 
  • Fish & Game rangers have had a strong presence on our rivers this season and compliance has been high, which has been great. We have enjoyed chatting to anglers, hearing their comments on the fishing and their appreciation of just how good we have it in Southland. 

Above: The upper Mataura beat system has been positively received by anglers this season.  

Late season success on the upper Mataura

Over the course of the fishing season, the upper Mataura Fishing Connect group in Northern Southland has met for fishing and socialising on the banks of the Mataura River and Lake Wakatipu.

This initiative is led by the local community and supported by Active Southland, the Athol Hunting and Fishing Club, Hunting and Fishing Invercargill, and Southland Fish & Game.

This endeavour aims to bring the community together on their local waterways, fostering both trout fishing skills and interpersonal connections.

In mid-April, the group met on the Mataura River near Nokomai for some spin and soft bait fishing.

The conditions were perfect–the sun was shining but there was some slight discolouration in the water which made for ideal spin fishing conditions.

Thomas Baker was one of the attendees and was thrilled to catch his first brown trout.

He caught his trout on a brightly coloured paddle-tail soft bait which he fished on the bottom in a deep hole.

Thomas’ superb catch catch goes to show that when you get the basics right, and you take advantage of ideal spin fishing conditions, you can have some great success.

Excitement on the banks of the Mataura River as Thomas Baker hooks into a brown trout.

Thomas Baker with his first trout from the Mataura River near Nokomai.


May the fish be with you

The month of May presents two specific riverine fishing opportunities. 

Firstly, the Mataura River between the Gore and Mataura Island bridges remains open, excluding May 4 & 5. This allows anglers to make the most of the mayfly hatches during the cooler temperatures.

Secondly, the rainbow fisheries. Rainbow trout spawn later than browns (respectively, June onwards versus May onwards) so the season runs slightly later.

As rainbow trout are only present in the Waiau catchment, the opportunities here are the upper sections of the Waiau and Whitestone Rivers, the entirety of the Clinton, Worsley, Eglinton & Upukerora Rivers, and the Ettrick Burn. As well as all other tributaries of Lakes Te Anau, Manapouri and Monowai. 

Time for a change

With the change of seasons, many anglers put the rods away, and shift their focus to game birds, winter sports, and the fireplace!

For those who like to fish all year round, we are fortunate to have great winter fishing options.

The lakes remain open year-round, as are the lower, tidal sections of many rivers.

A quick read of the regulation booklet shows you the fisheries that are available outside the main fishing season.

A well-conditioned rainbow trout recently caught on Lake Thomas—an all-year-round fishery.

Adrian Bell’s tip-full article on Winter Shoreline Lake Techniques is well worth revisiting (from Issue 55 of our magazine) -

Winter at the Hydro Canals

We know a lot of Southland anglers head to the Mackenzie Country during winter to chase large trout & salmon.

These manmade systems are a world apart from our more naturalized waterways and successfully fishing them not only requires a different approach but often a particular technique.

There are plenty of YouTube videos highlighting various techniques, and many evenings could be filled before a trip upskilling from the comfort of home.

The North Canterbury & Central South Island - Weekly Fishing Report is worth signing up for as it has up-to-date information on the region and fishing tips. You can do so here -

The bonus of a winter fishing up there is an appreciation of just how mild Southland winters are

Tight Lines

The team at Southland Fsh & Game

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