Reel Life February 2020

  • Otago
  • 4/02/2020

Reel Life February 2020

Floods and Recovery

A warm front in Early February delivered a lot of rain to the central and western parts of the region causing significant flooding and damage to waterways.

Several popular tourist walking tracks have been closed with some Doc huts severely damaged and unlikely to be usable for some time.

Right:Bernard Morrison with a nice lowland perch.

While there has been considerable disruption for backcountry anglers, rivers recover reasonably quickly, and fisheries are used to coping with flood conditions.

Admittedly in some catchments fish would have been flushed from their habitats with some dying due to heavy sedimentation and strong flows. But as conditions improve fisheries rebound.

Lake Onslow is presently fishing well albeit the cicada season never got into full flight.

Wanaka trout

Four respectable trout, two brown and two rainbow from Lake Wanaka which has been fishing well.

There have been mixed reports from Poolburn reservoir with the fishing patchy and it’s just a case of being there when the fish are active.

Fish size and condition is reportedly good.

March is a great time to fish around the main lake river mouths for browns, rainbows and salmon, noting salmon samples are still being sought from the Clutha River and Lake Wanaka.

Freeze the head asap and note on the sample - the date, where it was caught, and angler contact details. Length or weight information would be appreciated.

Contact Cliff Halford 0272018153

Paul van Klink 0210569146

Autumn Angling

The start of autumn with cooling temperatures will encourage fish to actively feed and gain condition for spawning and the winter ahead.

Target large browns in estuarine areas and fish the bigger waters with large feathery lures or soft baits. Aggressive males close to spawning time will lash out in predatory manner.

Some large perch are turning up in lowland lakes and rivers with soft baits continuing to deliver.

If mild temperatures are sustained through March dry fly fishing can be rewarding.

Try caddis fishing on the Clutha River on a balmy evening.

If fish are feeding just below the surface, use a small wet fly such as a purple grouse fished down and across.

The Hunter River generally fishes well in March. If it is carrying a little colour fish blind with a large orange humpy.

Walking Access Maps (WAMS)

Have you ever wondered if the river you frequently fish actually has a strip of public land or road reserve along the bank?

Of if there might be a better way to access your favourite spot?

The New Zealand Walking Access Commission (Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa) series of maps could help.

Visit the website to start exploring.

If you have used the maps before, the site has been updated and looks slightly different.

Don’t worry, everything is there, it just requires a couple of clicks to find.

Start by clicking a map that interests you – the “Outdoor Access” map has all the layers on it. The other maps allow access to a narrower range of layers. Along the top of the page, the two most important buttons are:

  1. Base map – allows you to change the underlying map (Topo, satellite, aerial etc)
  2. Layers – allows you to decide what tracks, public roads, campsites, fishing access points, DoC reserves etc you want.

To see the layers available, you need to click the small triangle to see a dropdown menu of layers to add or remove (see image).

There are many other features to explore on the website along with information regarding the status of unformed legal roads.

Remember, if you are unsure if the land is public or private, asking the landowner should help you avoid any unnecessary angst.

Upcoming Events

March 28 – Lower Clutha fishing competition organised by Fish & Game and keenly sponsored by Contact Energy to gather fisheries information.

Details will be advised on the Otago face book page or contact

Complaints about pollution or damage to rivers contact the Otago Regional Council (ORC) 24-hour pollution hotline on 0800 800 033

Up to date river flow information can be found on the ORC site here

To manage freshwater pests - Clean Check Dry message and protocols visit here

Tight Lines

Cliff Halford, Otago Fish and Game Officer.

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