Lower North Lowdown Fishing Report - 28 September 2023

  • Wellington
  • 28/09/2023

Lower North Lowdown Fishing Report - 28 September 2023

Mixed Bag For Opening But Still Plenty of Options                  

Pictured - The new season opens the door on a hole raft of angling opportunities (Credit: Nick King).  

Spring weather means lower North Island anglers face mixed prospects for Opening Day - this Sunday, October 1. 

There are still plenty of options and opportunities, it might just mean some careful planning and being prepared to move around to find the best water. 

Below we've got links for live weather and river flows for all the main catchment areas to help you plan your Opening Day adventure. 

Your main priority before heading out on Opening, however, is to make sure you've get your new season licence!  

It's quick and easy to grab a licence online and only takes a couple of minutes. 

There's plenty to be excited about on the eve of the new fishing season too.

Tackling spring weather is just part of the game, and if you get your planning right you'll get amongst some awesome early-season fishing to trout that haven't disturbed for months and are eager to feed.     

Grab your mates, check your gear, and get into it!

Here's the outlook for the weekend:


Hutt River and tributaries

Click here for live weather updates.

The Hutt is high and carrying a tannin colour this morning and may take several days of fine weather to reach a level conducive to fly fishing; spin anglers might, however, benefit from the extra turbidity. The tribs aren't looking too bad, with the Akatarawa, Pakarutahi and Whakatikei fishable come Opening if they stay at current flows. Unfortunately rain on Saturday could hamper anglers planning on heading into these side streams - just check the flows before heading out Sunday.             

The Hutt River at Totara Park this morning (Credit: Al Markham)  


Kapiti Coast 

Click here for live weather updates.

The WaikanaeOhau and Otaki have high flows at time of writing but are all beautifully clear and clean. More rain coming through on Saturday makes it tough to forecast fishability on Opening Day - it's going to be a matter of checking the flows Saturday evening and making a plan from there. Streams on the Coast with small catchments could be fishable Sunday and will still holding trout yet to drop out after winter spawning, so there are options available.                           

The Otaki River at SH1 this morning (Credit: Phil Teal)



Click here for live weather updates.

The WaiohineWaingawa and Tauherenikau are actually in really good shape despite the heavy rain over the last  few days in Wairarapa and the Tararua Range. At the rate they are dropping, and only showers forecast for Saturday, these rivers could be the pick for Wellington region anglers come Opening. The Ruamahanga is carrying a high sediment load from the eastern rivers which will limit fishing opportunities.                  

The Waiohine River at SH2 this morning (Credit: Hamish Carnachan)


Click here for live weather updates.  

The Manawatu River is running and coloured up right the way through. Likewise the Oroua and Pohangina which are sediment laden and running high. Opportunities are there for those prepared to scout out the smaller spawning streams and tribs in the east of the catchment. Many of these will be holding good numbers of trout and, depending on what rain eventuates over the next 48 hours, could be fishing very well on Opening Day.                                  

The Manawatu River at Teachers College this morning (Credit: Horizons)


Click here for live weather updates.

Mixed conditions for Central High Country anglers with milky mainstem rivers. The Rangitikei River is  carrying colour in the mid reaches but could be fishable around Pukeokahu and further north if no significant rain falls. Look to target Mangaohane and Springvale areas if flows are okay. With scattered rain tomorrow and on Saturday, it'd certainly pay to check the flows before heading out.        

The Rangitikei River at Pukeokahu this morning (Credit: Horizons) 

Taranaki Ringplain

Click here for live weather updates

Taranaki ringplain streams are rising and falling very quickly as a series of westerly front go through. There may well be some decent rain on Saturday ahead of Opening Day, but smaller streams and the upper reaches of larger ones could be fishable on Sunday, which is looking like it’s going to be fine and clear with light winds. Check out the Taranaki Regional Councils live flow data to confirm levels and help plan your Opening Day outing. Lake Mangamahoe (fly fishing only) and Ratapiko will also be worth a look. 

The Kaupokonui Stream at Kaponga yesterday (Credit: Allen Stancliff) 



Flows in the Waimarino/Ruapehu rivers and streams will also likely be elevated on Opening Day with more scattered rain coming through on Friday, and even snow on Saturday to 800m. Some of the smaller streams, in the headwaters, are going to be your best bet. Look to the upper reaches of the Mangawhero, the Makotuku above Raetihi, or even the Orautoha which should be holding post-spawning fish.  

The Mangawhero River at Oreore this morning (Credit: Horizons)  


Tip Of The Week - Small Streams Fire Early Season 

Small streams offer fantastic fishing at the start of the season (Credit: Andrew Harding)

While many anglers prefer to fish the larger backcountry rivers come Opening Day, often some of the best angling to be had at the start of the season is in the smaller spawning tributaries.

Trout will hold in these small waters for some months until the low flows and higher water temperatures of summer force them to drop back into the larger rivers where they can find refuge in deep pools.

What this means for anglers is an abundance of top fishing opportunities from October through to the end of November in water that is often overlooked by others.

Start searching out some of these lesser known fishing spots and you'll be surprised at how many fish you find and how little water trout will happily hold in.

Hooking a big brown or rainbow in tight confines is a real test of skill and incredibly exciting... not to mention sometimes chaotic.

The other great advantage of smaller water early in the season is that these streams clear a lot faster than larger rivers because of the smaller catchment area.

So, with frequent rainfall the norm for the lower North Island through until December (and sometimes beyond), small water is less susceptible to weather events that impact other favoured fishing reaches.

All in all, this equates to more angling opportunities early on!

By Wellington Fish & Game officer Hamish Carnachan.


Video Of The Week

Here's a nice production of a North Island backcountry fishing mission to get you amped for Opening!

Click the screen shot above to watch the 27-minute video. 

Also, don't forget the Rise Fly Fishing Film Festival is currently running. 

There are screening at 7pm tonight in Palmerston North.

For other screening times and some epic teaser clips of what's showing, click here.     


Grab Your New Season Licence Now! 

Just another reminder to grab your new whole season fishing licence before heading on the water for Opening Day. 

Click the image above to get your online, the quick and easy way.  


Plan Your Opening Day Adventure

Click the map below and visit the one-stop shop for all your angling access information.

This year we've combined Wellington and Taranaki fishing access points to help anglers from each region discover new water. 

It also makes it a great tool for planning you angling trips, particularly your Opening Day adventure if you need to move around to beat the weather.     


If you notice any access points that need updating, please let us know.   


Have You Fished the Canals? 

Fish & Game is researching the economic impact of the canal trout fishery (Credit: Rhys Adams) 

Fish & Game believes Central South Island canal anglers contribute significantly to the thriving Mackenzie Basin community.

With your help, we can research the economic impact canal anglers bring by way of their spending that then provides jobs and income.

This research will create opportunities for Fish & Game to progress the management of the canal fishery and shed light on how trout and salmon fisheries support local communities.

We have partnered with the University of Otago to survey information on angler spending – this will be in the form of an email survey.

Please keep an eye on your email inbox over the next week.

To help answer the survey questions, have a think about your spending over the last fishing season in the Mackenzie area that you made while on a canal fishing trip, for example, accommodation, meals, fishing tackle, lures, and bait.

Also consider any other one-off spending you added on to your canal fishing trip, things like scenic flight, a fishing guide, hot pools, local artwork or upgrading to a new fishing rod.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help proactively manage this popular sports fishery.


Important Biosecurity Notice

Adult gold clams (Credit: MPI)  

The unwanted organism freshwater gold clam has been found in the Waikato River system and Biosecurity NZ is trying to limit the spread of the invasive species.  

There are new requirements for how to Check Clean Dry your boat and fishing gear so you do not spread them - click here for details. 

Fish & Game NZ has also put out a statement about the biosecurity incursion. You can rad it on our website here.    



  • Lake Mangamahoe near New Plymouth (fly fishing only) has just received a new release of hatchery rainbows and there are also a few nice browns cruising the lake margins.
  • Lake Ngangana at Waitara is temporarily closed to fishing owing to an algal bloom. We'll keep you updated about conditions and when it opens again.
  • Lake Namunamu will be closed to public access from early November 2023 for logging operations. Access to the lake is likely to be restricted for at least three years, however, Earnslaw-One has promised to let us know if there are opportunities to access the lake during breaks in harvest.
  • River Bulldozing - Don't get an unwelcome surprise by Greater Wellington Regional Council's river bulldozing ruining your day on the river. The upcoming activity schedule can be found here.

 If you have any information you'd like to have considered for addition to the notice board, please get in touch with us.  

​*This report was accurate at time of writing. For your safety please ensure you check the latest weather and river flow information before you head out on the water.


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