Reel Life December 2022

  • Otago
  • 12/12/2022

Reel Life December 2022

Summer days

Make the most of the long days and warmer conditions this summer.

Our lowland fisheries have seen a mixed bag of weather at the start of the season, but some anglers have been getting impressive results.

Lorenzo Rawnsley, of Mosgiel, recently landed a personal best, a 9-pound brown trout on a home-tied #16 fly.

Above right: Lorenzo Rawnsley, of Mosgiel, with his 9-pound brown trout, a personal best on fly. Photo: Lorenzo Rawnsley.

A few days earlier he landed a couple of other fine brown trout in quick succession, on a lower reach 40 minutes south of Dunedin.

“I'm very chuffed with recent trips’ success,” he said.

If you love a challenge, some trout under willow trees will be single-mindedly focused on willow grubs falling onto the water.

These can be incredibly frustrating – and highly rewarding.

Try dropping your grub pattern just above the fish’s nose.

If all else fails, offer a completely different fly!

Caddis hatches at twilight are flicking the on-switch for some exciting surface action that can go on well into the night.

Always scout out a fishing location carefully in daylight before attempting to fish there in the dark.

Introducing Mason Court

DSCN3413 Mason CourtA new Fish & Game officer has been appointed to the Cromwell field office.

Mason Court has started just ahead of the hectic summer period.

He is an Otago University Zoology graduate who is truly following his passion for recreation and the environment.

A nifty fly fisherman, he has quickly found his feet engaging with anglers and hunters in field surveys and assisting with research on our Southern Lakes fisheries.

Mason’s appointment was one of the first tasks of recently appointed Cromwell operations manager David Priest.

See you out there

Look out for our Fish & Game advocates around the Southern Lakes and Central Otago this summer.

Two staff members with scientific and angling backgrounds have been recruited to engage with our licence holders and the public around high-use holiday areas from late December to Waitangi weekend.

They will answer your questions, hand out brochures and magazines, and may also ask you about your own fishing to help us get a better picture of angling activity for the management of our fisheries.

Wet weather

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When rivers rise, cast towards the margins hard against the riverbank and into any eddies.

When the rivers rise and become discoloured due to rain, try large lures or weighted streamers to get down to the fish.

Cast towards the margins hard against the riverbank and into any eddies.

Black lures stand out in the murk.

Small tributaries often run clearer than the main river, so fishing at the confluences can be a good choice.

Another rainy day option is stillwaters such as the Maniototo dams ─ Blakelys, Coal Pit, Hamiltons, Mathias, McAtamney’s Head Pond, or Rutherfords.

Hawea’s hot

Lake Hawea salmon are not being caught in huge numbers but are generally bigger than last year.

Salmon are continuing to turn up at the Lake Hawea dam.

Fish & Game officers conducting a survey recently spotted a school of salmon just beyond casting range off the jetty.

We are continuing our angler survey at Lake Hawea researching catch rates, fish condition and angler activity.

221112 Hawea salmonWe’ve met 70 anglers there since September and are pleased to have found everyone there are complying with regulations.

Many anglers we’ve surveyed have been catching fish, including rainbows in good condition.

Lake Hawea salmon are not being caught in huge numbers but are generally bigger than last year.

There are still good catches of salmon coming from The Neck.

Tussock lakes

Poolburn Dam continues its cracker start to the season with brown trout in extraordinary condition.

A Fish & Game angler survey is underway at the dam this season, to help with decision-making around the management of this high-country tussock fishery.

Anglers can expect to meet rangers there, measuring catches, checking licences and asking a few quick questions for research.

Other tussock lakes worth visiting this summer are Onslow and the Upper Manorburn.

Carry your fishing licence

Holidaymakers throwing their fishing gear in the car are reminded to sort out their fishing licence before hitting the water.

Several anglers have recently been caught fishing without licences at Lake Dunstan, Timaru Creek, Poolburn and Tomahawk Lagoon.

All were issued offence notices.

Other offences were fishing with two rods and signing a false declaration as being the holder of a current fishing licence.

Rangers will be patrolling throughout the region this summer.

Please have your licence ready. We’ll also be delighted to answer any questions to help improve your fishing success.

Wakatipu catchment

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The mouth of the Greenstone, Dart and Rees rivers are key areas in the western end of Lake Wakatipu. Photo: Bruce Quirey

Lake Wakatipu and its surrounding tributaries are gems in the Otago fishery.

The Kawarau arm of the lake is a productive fishing location only minutes from the Queenstown township.

A local guide recently reported catching 27 fish in two hours.

The western end of the lake is also popular.

Key areas are the mouths of the Dart, Rees and Greenstone rivers.

Elsewhere, focus on smaller stream mouths and drop-offs where fish like to feed and enjoy the cool flows.

Recent spawning surveys and last year’s drift drive of the Greenstone River suggest the rainbow trout population may be lower than normal.

We would be interested to hear from you if you’ve been fishing the Greenstone River or other Wakatipu tributaries.

Contact Cromwell operations manager David Priest at

Fish and Game, in partnership with Niwa, will be conducting acoustic monitoring of fish populations to learn more about the Southern Lakes (Wakatipu, Wanaka, Hawea and Dunstan).

This data will be analysed against previous acoustic survey results.

A controlled fishery period for the upper Greenstone River runs from February to March. Click here for details how this booking system works.


Summer provides excellent fishing for perch, which thrive in warm conditions.

These fish are suckers for soft baits and smaller lures.

Perch have a delicious, firm eating flesh for the table and are best filleted.

Good locations for these species are:

  • Lower Taieri River and lower Clutha/Mata-au River
  • Lakes Waihola, Waipori and Tuakitoto and Mahinerangi, and Butchers Dam.

Have your say

The ORC wants your feedback on how land and water in Otago should be managed.

This is an important consultation process for their soon-to-be-released Land and Water Regional Plan.

Your input can make a real difference to help resource management decisions potentially for decades.

Please take a couple of minutes to fill in an OCR survey to speak up for rivers.

You can provide feedback on as many areas that are important to you as you’d like.

Click here to fill in a survey:

Feedback closes on December 31.

Want more info? Check out these links or contact our helpful Otago team.

Tight lines and have a safe and merry Christmas,

Bruce Quirey, Otago Fish & Game

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