Reel Life November 2023

  • Otago
  • 22/11/2023

Reel Life November 2023

ReWild yourself this summer

Hundreds of rivers, streams and lakes in Otago are just waiting for you this summer. Get out in nature, unwind, and reconnect. ReWild yourself!

This month Fish & Game launched its ReWild campaign to encourage Kiwis to go fishing and hunting, connect with nature, care for our environment, and catch some wild kai. 

Above: Junior angler Cy Smith with a 8.5 pound brown trout he caught and released in the Tokomariro River this month. Cy hooked the fish on a smelt soft bait with a 1/16-ounce jig head using a fast retrieve. Photo: Samuel Smith 

Fishing and hunting are a way of life for thousands of Kiwis, a tradition of food gathering that bonds us with the land. Read more about our campaign here: 

Otago Weekly Fishing Reports

If you haven’t already subscribed, you can get the latest Otago freshwater fishing info emailed directly to you each week. Every Thursday we’ll send latest fishing conditions, weather and river flow info, and tips for your next fishing trip.  Click here to subscribe. Earlier reports can be read in the Fishing News on our website.

Read on for some of what you may have missed in our Otago Weekly Fishing Reports recently.

Land-locked salmon on the run

The annual spring salmon run in Lake Hāwea has begun.

Boat and shored-based anglers are reporting great fishing around the Hāwea Dam wall and boat ramp.

Hāwea’s land-locked salmon aren't big but put up a great fight and make excellent eating.

These salmon are often not fussy and can be targeted with a range of small spinners.

Spinners in the 7-14-gram size range in pink and silver colours are popular.

Soft baits in similar colours are also effective.

Be sure to get your lure down deep to reach the salmon.

Also, check out our new video Southern Lakes salmon fishing - YouTube

Above: Honorary ranger Dan Natta nets a kahawai hooked by Lance Gill during the soft bait clinic at Henley. Photo: Bruce Quirey

Henley soft bait clinic

Above: Honorary ranger Dan Natta nets a kahawai hooked by Lance Gill during the soft bait clinic at Henley. Photo: Bruce Quirey

A trifecta of fish species were biting when more than 70 anglers turned up this month for Otago Fish & Game’s Henley soft bait clinic with Lance Gill from Okuma.

Anglers learned tips on how to target trout, salmon and perch using soft baits. Lance covered rods, reels, lines, soft baits, jig heads, and casting and retrieving techniques.

Attendees tested their skills in the Taieri River, hooking kahawai, perch and brown trout. It shows with a bit of knowledge and simple gear how effective soft baits can be. These tactics will work equally well wherever spin fishing is permitted.

Here’s a Fish & Game YouTube video on Soft Baiting Tips with Ian Hadland.

Fishing for kahawai

Violet Farrell netted this kahawai hooked by Chad Patrick during the soft bait clinic in the Taieri River. Photo: Bruce Quirey

It is lawful for anglers to target kahawai without a licence, however, they must release any sports fish (trout, salmon or perch) caught.

All anglers should be prepared to be politely interviewed by a ranger if they have gear that could also reasonably take sports fish, and they may ask them for ID.

This is to make sure they are aware of the need for a licence to take any sports fish, and to confirm that it is only kahawai that they are after.

It's important to note that the ranger will record this interaction with the angler in the ranger notebook for future reference.

Lower Clutha Angler Survey

We want to know more about angler activity on the lower Clutha, Pomahaka, and Waipahi rivers.

Our goal? To estimate the total angling activity and the numbers of fish caught and kept, highlighting the immense value of these waterways.

Anglers from Otago and Southland will be part of this study, with a focus on those living closest to the rivers.

Over the next 12 months, local licence holders might receive a phone call from surveyors on our behalf.

If you receive a call, your input is invaluable.

Your fishing data will help us better recognise the worth of the Lower Clutha catchment.

This project is made possible thanks to funding from Contact Energy, under the Lower Clutha Sportfish Management Plan.

Mahinerangi catch rates high

Tyson Hayes (8), from Waihola, caught this perch on a soft bait with his grandparents Maurice and Jacqui Hayes at Mahinerangi last weekend. Photo: Jayde Couper

Otago Fish & Game staff attended the 2023 Mahinerangi Gold Fishing Competition at the weekend.

Staff checked licences and took otolith samples from some of the brown trout that were entered.

Despite the low lake levels, catch rates were high, and most anglers we spoke to caught a couple of brown trout and plenty of perch.

The largest fish and winner of the prestigious (and allegedly real gold) Mahinerangi Gold Cup went to Bodie Hanrahan, of Dunedin, with his brown trout tipping the scales at just over 2kg gutted and gilled.

Many organisations sponsored the event, including Otago Fish & Game.

The primary event sponsor was Manawa Energy.

Boat ramp extended

Anglers are relieved Manawa Energy has extended the boat ramp at the Edgar Stark bridge at Lake Mahinerangi.

The energy company is dropping the lake level this summer to perform maintenance on structures normally underwater, which left the end of the boat ramp short of the water’s edge.

Three slabs have been installed and Manawa says a contractor will instal a fourth when the lake is low enough.

Urban wetland protected forever

Celebrating the covenanting of Bullock Creek Hatchery Springs wetland are (from left) Otago Fish & Game chief executive Ian Hadland, Department of Corrections senior community work supervisor Dave Madden, Friends of Bullock Creek president Ben Irving, and QEII National Trust regional representative for Central Otago Rob Wardle. Photo: supplied

A celebration was held in Wānaka this month to mark the covenanting of the Bullock Creek Hatchery Springs wetland.

A QEII National Trust open space covenant will forever protect the urban wetland, which is owned by Otago Fish & Game, in the heart of the resort town.

The covenanting of this wetland by Fish & Game would not have been possible without the dedication of the Friends of Bullock Creek, the Department of Corrections and Fish & Game staff.

Waipahi lives up to reputation

The Waipahi River is a challenging river to fish often at the best of times.

Only seven trout were caught in the 140th Waipahi Gold Medal this month  ̶  one of the lowest catch rates in the event’s long history.

Displaying their medals and trophies at the weigh-in at the Oak Tree Inn at Clinton at the weekend (Saturday, November 4) are (from left) Bruce McGavin (bronze), Matt Pettersson (gold) and Les Gibson (silver). Photo: Bruce Quirey, Otago Fish & Game.

The river rose and some anglers endured thunderstorms, hail and rain.

Thanks to event organisers Otago Anglers Association for helping Otago Fish & Game collect otoliths (ear bones) to continue research to identify and manage important natal streams in this catchment.

Congratulations to Matt Pettersson, who earned back-to-back gold medals.

Lake tributaries fishing well

Anglers are having good early season fishing targeting rainbows in Southern Lakes tributaries.

Teamwork makes the dream work for Wānaka anglers Sandy Brown and Hamish Bartlett. Photo: Mason Court

Pre- and post-spawn rainbows can be encountered in these waterways in spring.

Fly anglers could try large stonefly, glow bug or squirmy worm patterns.

Spin anglers could use lighty weighted softbaits and spinners, focusing on the deep pools.

Nevis Road open

Nevis River and Road, looking upstream towards the end of the gorge beat. Photo: Mason Court

Central Otago District Council has reopened the Nevis Road from Bannockburn through to the Southland District boundary.

This allows anglers access to the entire Nevis River beat system.

Please remember to indicate which beat you are fishing, by parking next to the appropriate beat sign and leaving your intentions on your dashboard.

Don’t have your licence yet?

Drop into your local agent or simply click here:

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

  • Otago Fish & Game office, corner of Hanover and Harrow streets, Dunedin.
  • Tel: (03) 477 9076
  • Email:

Tight lines,

The team from Otago Fish & Game

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