Reel Life October 2023

  • Otago
  • 19/10/2023

Reel Life October 2023

Above Right: Tim Dunn with a feisty Lake Wānaka brown caught on an olive fuzzy wuzzy. Photo: Kristen 

Hook into Labour Weekend

Pack the fishing rods if you’re planning to escape for the October long weekend.

Fishing looks promising at Otago’s Southern Lakes. As the weather warms up, fish in the lakes are getting active to gain condition.

At Wakatipu, good numbers of fish were caught in the Glenorchy fishing competition this month. Nice catches were also reported around the Wānaka outlet, Matukituki River mouth and Stevenson Arm.

Lake Dunstan is clearing of debris after recent flooding but caution is still advised. Anglers have been sight-fishing the lake edge for cruising fish.

Poolburn Reservoir has picked up where it left off last season, producing browns in very good condition.

Hadley McElrea (9) with a cracker rainbow trout caught trolling near the Lake Wānaka outlet. Photo: Geoff McElrea

East Coast rivers and streams are already above 11 degrees C, bringing on good bites. This Labour Weekend, Sunday might be the pick of the days for good fishing in these coastal areas.

The early season is a good time to explore South Otago’s smaller streams and rivers while there are healthy flows and less weed growth.

Please check the latest forecast before heading out onto the water.

Seven Early Season Tips

  1. Green-and-gold Tasmanian Devil lures trolled in Wānaka have picked up some nice trout recently.
  2. Careful stalking in shallow areas will locate cruising brown trout in lakes Wānaka, Dunstan and Hāwea. Small streamers, damselfly imitations or small, natural-coloured soft baits cast well ahead of the fish can work.
  3. When spring weather messes with your river, the tussock lakes of Central Otago and the Maniototo irrigation dams are worth a go. Try a damsel nymph, water boatman or dark lures such as a black-and-gold Toby or soft bait.
  4. If waters get discoloured, try bright-coloured lures and flies. Drifting bright yellow or chartreuse soft baits can entice a bite.
  5. Strong wind can make fishing a challenge. In these conditions, worm fishing is a popular and successful method in the lakes. Anglers who focus on sheltered spots can still pick up cruising fish.
  6. Spin and trolling anglers at Poolburn have been having success on traffic-light 13.5-gram Tasmanian Devil lures.
  7. Over on the coast, trout are still actively targeting smelt in tidal reaches and will take most light-coloured lures.

High-country Hump Day

The high-country season opens on Wednesday, November 1. As you know, Wednesdays are hump days.

As it happens, a humpy is a first-rate dry fly which is great for searching fast-moving water when terrestrial insects like manuka beetles and hoppers get moving. Don’t leave home without some humpies in your arsenal this season. 

Designated Waters

If you want to fish Designated Waters in 2023-24, you need a valid Designated Waters Licence in addition to your whole season Fishing Licence.

Print out or phone-screenshot your DW licence receipt and carry it with your whole season licence.

The Designated Waters Licence has replaced the Backcountry Endorsement system.

Since October 1, spring weather has thwarted some efforts to fish the Designated Waters of the Upper Pomahaka (upstream of Hukerere Station Bridge) and Nevis rivers.

Due to road damage, only four beats of the Nevis River are currently accessible by vehicle.

They are The Preservation, Settlement, Robertson Road and Commissioners beats.

The Nevis Gorge and Top Flat beats are unreachable by vehicle at this stage.

Central Otago District Council says the Nevis Road will remain closed to traffic until November 10, from Commissioners Creek to the Southland District Council boundary. 

For CODC updates on temporary road closures:

Designated Waters fisheries opening on November 1:

  • Greenstone
  • Caples
  • Upper Lochy
  • Hunter
  • Dingle Burn
  • Young
  • Wilkin

Click for more details about Otago Designated Waters Fisheries

2023 Soft Bait Clinics

Want to learn how to catch more trout, salmon and perch using soft baits?

Join Otago Fish & Game and Lance Gill from Okuma for our FREE evening clinics.

  • Manuherekia River mouth, corner of Rivers and Tarbert streets, Alexandra, 6.30 pm, November 8.
  • Taieri River, Taieri Ferry Rd, next to the Red Bridge, Henley, 6.30 pm, November 15.

Go to Otago Fish & Game events to register.

Lake Mahinerangi lowering

Disappointing news for anglers that Lake Mahinerangi is being lowered for energy generation maintenance.

The water level at Lake Mahinerangi is below the concrete boat ramp at Edgar Stark Bridge and falling. Boaties need to take care. Photo: David Young

Boaties will need to take care to avoid getting vehicles stuck.

The lake level is below the concrete boat ramp at the Edgar Stark Bridge and the edge is soft.

A lowered level will also mean exposed soft sediment on the lake edge will be more easily stirred by wind and rain.

Manawa says it is lowering the lake for an upcoming Waipori scheme outage.

The lake will be lowered to about 382 metres above sea level, almost a metre below its current level of 382.94m.

Manawa will cease generation in November for maintenance.

The company predicts the lake level will return to a more normal level mid to late January 2024.

We hope the El Nino won’t affect the return to a normal level.

The level can be monitored here:

Contestants will need all their skills in the Lake Mahinerangi Gold Cup on November 12.

For details about the competition, contact Ronnie, at Taieri Anglers Club, phone 489 8930.

Weekly fishing report

Want the latest Otago freshwater fishing info each week?

If you haven’t already, sign up for our weekly fishing report and every Thursday we’ll email you the latest fishing conditions, weather and river flow info, and tips for your next fishing mission.  

Click here to subscribe. Earlier reports can be read in the Fishing News on our website.

Mike Weddell nets a 2kg brown on the Shag River/Waihemo caught on a hare’s ear nymph. Photo: Bruce Quirey

Land and Water Regional Plan submission guide

Now is the time to make your voice heard.

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) is taking submissions on its soon-to-be-notified Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The LWRP will replace the old water plan and will set targets for water quality, water quantity and manage human activities to achieve them.

The ORC has a survey open for feedback on the plan until November 6.

This plan doesn't recognise anglers and hunters as much as it should. Click here for 8 top tips from Fish & Game on making a submission.

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.

Tight lines,

The team from Otago Fish & Game

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