Reel Life February 2023

  • Southland
  • 18/02/2023

Reel Life February 2023


Over the summer months, Southland Fish & Game staff have been undertaking drift dive surveys on our major rivers as part of our annual trout monitoring program.

Drift dive surveys involve us drifting down specific river reaches and counting the trout we see.

Above Right: Southland Fish & Game staff drift diving on the Oreti River.

We drift the same reaches each year, and this enables us to detect changes in the trout population size from year to year as well as population trends over time.

On the upper Mataura River (near Garston) we counted 33 trout (>250mm) per km, and most of these fish were over 400mm.

Our short-term monitoring of the upper Mataura trout population suggests that the population is stable and long-term, the population has been increasing.

It’s worth noting that over the last few years trout condition has been excellent, so if you haven’t had a go on the upper Mataura this season, it would be well worth a look.

Unfortunately, in contrast, our Monowai River dive showed that both brown and rainbow trout numbers were lower than in previous years and lower than the long-term average.

Historically, the Monowai River trout population has fluctuated significantly and tends to peak during mouse years.

We will keep an eye on the Monowai trout counts over the next few years and hopefully the numbers will bounce back.

On the upper Oreti (near Three Kings) we counted 25 trout (>400mm) per km which is slightly higher than the long-term average.

Both short and long-term monitoring of the upper Oreti trout population suggests that the population is stable.

We are due to do the drift dives on the upper and lower Waiau and mid and lower Mararoa in the next few weeks.

We will share the results of these dives in the March edition of Reel Life.


Dwight lower Waiau

Fishing on the lower Waiau near Rakatu.

If you haven’t visited the lower Waiau this season, it could be a good time to check it out.

On the 9th of February Meridian provided a small flushing flow and subsequent periphyton (algae) monitoring by Fish & Game staff revealed that the flushing flow removed a significant amount of didymo and cyanobacteria.

With nice clean rocks, you shouldn’t have to contend with didymo sloughing off the rocks and clogging up fishing gear.

The pulse of water down the river also spurs fish movement and can put trout on the bite.

Drifting a soft bait though the swift runs is a great way to pick up the rainbows.

Use jig head weights of 1/12th or 1/8th of an ounce so you can get your softie down to where the fish are.

Other good lure options include CD5 Rapalas, 10g Toby lures and Tasmanian Devils.

We have also heard reports of the odd salmon making its way into the river.

If you want to try and target these salmon, you need to find some deep pools and make sure your lure is hard against the bottom.

Top lower Waiau access points include:

Wairaki Mouth (off Blackmount Road)

Jericho (off Jericho Road)

Rakatu Wetlands (off the Blackmount Clifton Road)

Whare Creek (Off the Blackmount Clifden Road)


Aparima spin fishing

The Southland fishing regulations are up for review

The Southland Fish and Game Council is reviewing the second schedule of the Anglers Notice (the local Southland fishing regulations).

If you would like to suggest changes to the Southland fishing regulations, please email your suggestions to by March 5, 2023.

Tight Lines

Cohen Stewart, Southland Fish & Game

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