Reel Life March 2023

  • Southland
  • 15/03/2023

Reel Life March 2023


I am sure you will agree that there has been a definite change in the seasons down south.

Day length is shortening, temperatures are cooling off, and we have finally had some rain to top up our rivers after a long and dry summer.

The autumn months, particularly March and April, are great months to head away for trout fishing because the weather typically remains settled and there is more flow in our rivers.

Over the last month, the fishing around Southland, in many different fisheries, has been excellent.

For example, the extra water in our lower rivers has made for ideal spin fishing conditions.

Spin fishing is often more productive when the river flows are higher.

Above Right: Trent Moss with a brown trout he caught on a paddle tail soft bait in the Oreti Estuary.

Dwight stream mouth rt

A Lake Monowai rainbow caught at the mouth of the Electric River.

Our lakes have also been fishing well, Lake Monowai in particular.

If you are a boat-based angler, consider using your boat to access and target stream mouths on our lakes, but rather than fishing from the boat, try fishing from the shore.

This can be a great way to get a few extra trout to the net and break up a day of trolling on the lake.

Finally, the Mataura River near the Mataura and Gore townships has been offering some great nymph fishing action.

Small pheasant tails and hare n’ coppers are the go-to patterns to try.

As things continue to cool down through April, mayfly hatches should start to ramp up so make sure to have a good selection of mayfly emergers and dries on hand.


Early this month, Southland Fish & Game staff did a drift dive on the upper and lower Waiau River.

On the upper Waiau we count trout on six 1km long river reaches between the Te Anau Lake Control and Balloon Loop.

On average, we counted 271 rainbow trout and 88 brown trout per kilometre which is in line with the long-term average.

The highest counts were observed in the swift run type habitat that was 2-3m deep.

On the lower Waiau we count trout on six 1km long river reaches between the Mararoa Lake Control and Jericho.

Unfortunately, our count was down relative to previous years and on average, we counted 29 trout per km.

On the lower Waiau, the reaches near Excelsior and Whare Creek held the most fish (approximately 50 per km).

We will continue to monitor both river reaches so we can add to our long-term dataset.


Ben cast to mist 01

Careful management of pressure-sensitive fisheries is a top priority for the Southland Fish and Game Council.

On the 10th of March, you should have received an email from Fish & Game seeking feedback on a proposed new fishing licence category that has been developed to help manage angling pressure on sensitive fisheries – the Designated Waters Licence.

Under this proposal, a small number of sensitive fisheries would be classified as Designated Waters, and any angler wishing to fish these fisheries would be required to hold a Designated Waters Licence.

The key purpose of the Designated Waters Licence is to reduce overcrowding and improve the angling experience in sensitive fisheries.

Resident and non-resident anglers would be affected differently by the Designated Waters Licence.

For resident anglers, the Designated Waters Licence would:

- Be available as a free whole-season licence in your home region.

- Incur a nominal fee outside your home region.

- Not restrict the frequency in which you access rivers that are classified as Designated Waters.

For non-resident anglers the Designated Waters Licence would:

- Be available as a daily licence to whole season licence holders at a cost of $35.00-50.00.

- Impose some restrictions on how many times you could fish rivers that are classified as Designated Waters.

If you have already commented on the proposal, thank you for your feedback.

If you haven’t seen our consultation email and survey and would like to comment on the proposal, please check your spam folder.

If you still can’t find our survey link, please get in touch with the Southland Fish & Game office, and we will send you a link directly.

Tight Lines

Cohen Stewart, Southland Fish & Game

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