Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 06 April 2023

  • Otago
  • 8/04/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 06 April 2023

Easter Plans? Take advantage of the long weekend

With two extra days available due to Easter this weekend and a favourable forecast, it is the perfect time to explore further than you normally would on a weekend. Whether this involves tramping into some remote backcountry river, camping overnight at a central lake or reservoir, or travelling out of the region.

The cool water temperature will have the trout actively feeding and the brown trout and salmon will have started their spawning runs, providing plenty of opportunities to experience some great autumn fishing.

Pictured: Otago’s backcountry rivers can provide some excellent sight fishing with the bonus of stunning scenery as well. Credit: Ngaio Emson.

Rain may force plan changes

Mid-week rain has affected the clarity of many rivers within the Otago region with the Taieri River carrying significant colour on Tuesday and many other rivers likely the same. Anglers are encouraged to check the river conditions before they commit to a trip and don’t be afraid to change up fishing techniques to best suit the conditions. If the rivers drops but continue to hold colour remember to try larger bodied lures and flies to ensure that the fish have the best, chances of seeing them.

Don’t be afraid to fish the humble worm, both the imitation and the real thing (where regulations allow). Ryan from Hunting & Fishing Dunedin recommends checking out some of the rivers that feed into the Taieri this weekend such as Deep or Lee stream. Both these rivers offer challenging brown trout fishing as they are often hard to spot in the tannin-stained water. Soft baits can be extremely effective in these smaller streams as they allow you to fish the deeper pools and sections that you cannot usually see into as well as the shallow runs. Ryans current favourite soft bait colours for these rivers are Olive Pearl and Black and Gold.

Taieri River above Middlemarch due to recent rains earlier this week on the Maniototo plains. Credit: Ben Sowry.

Lake Wakatipu rainbows

Angler reports are filtering back in regarding early season rainbows moving up into the rivers that feed Lake Wakatipu. Early reports suggest these fish are in excellent condition and size. With mid-week rain ensuring that the backcountry rivers will remain cool and oxygenated, encouraging more fish to push up, it’s the perfect time to fish the lower reaches of these rivers.

Santillan from Hunting & Fishing Queenstown recommends using small gold beaded nymphs and small dries such as Parachute Adams and Dads Favorite to target these energetic rainbows. Another successful method to target these fish is using sinking fly line and booby flies at the mouths of the rivers. Rainbows will often school at the river mouth awaiting a fresh rainfall or snowmelt before they push upriver.

Lovely backcountry rainbow jack which fell victim to a small gold beaded nymph drifted through the head of a large pool. Credit: Mason Court.

Shallow water trout

With the air temperature decreasing as we approach winter, the fish are moving out of the deeper sections of our southern lakes on to the shallows in search of food or to start their spawning runs.

Nick from Southern Wild Wānaka reports anglers have success trolling and casting around the river mouths on Hāwea and Wānaka.  Casting spinners or streamers from the boat can provide excellent fishing as it allows you to fish an area unreachable from shore anglers as well as often providing an elevated platform to spot trout from. Salmon and brown trout both should be well underway starting their spawning runs. Hotspots for these include the mouths of the Hunter, Makarora, Mātukituki, Dart and Rees. Nick recommends targeting the shallow water trout using small dry dropper combos, or if spin fishing lightly weighted black and gold soft baits.
Good conditioned brown trout that was successfully spotted and cast to from the boat near a river mouth on Lake Wānaka. Credit: Ben Sowry.

Entice the bite

With brown trout becoming more aggressive as they start their spawning run, Tim from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago suggest anglers try using Skagit heads and spey rods to swing heavy streamers on the Upper Clutha. Skagit outfits incorporate short, thick, heavy shooting headed fly lines equipped with sinking tips, and are engineered to cast large, weighted flies this allows them to fish deep fast flowing water.

This technique is effective on the Upper Clutha as the heavy shooting head allows the angler to present the fly near the bottom of the river, often enticing an aggressive strike. Tim also reports that with the extra rain the Manuherikia River is carrying more water than usual making for some excellent streamer fishing on intermediate sinking line and dark rabbit flies. Tim recommends using large intruder flies and weighted streamers to get down deep and into the feeding zone of these fish.

Diamond & Reid Lake

These two lakes offer very similar fishing opportunities, with challenging fishing for large shallow water browns. Although fish may be seen in high numbers and often appear to be feeding actively, they can be extremely frustrating to entice a bite from.

It is recommended that fly anglers use long leaders and no indicator to minimize the risk of alerting the cruising trout of their presence. Using stillwater classics such as damselfly, water boatman, and midge pupa in smaller sizes can be effective. Anglers are suggested to use light leaders and size 18 hooks to have the best chance of enticing a bite. Care should be taken when stalking these fish along the edge of the lakes, and it can often be better to wait for the fish to cruise in your direction instead of chasing them. One successful method is casting out in front of the cruising trout and then crawling the weighted nymph along the bottom.

Reid Lake on a stunning Autumn day. Credit: Ngaio Emson.

Clyde Dam live webcam

A screengrab of the Clyde Dam webcam taken at the time of writing.

Want to know conditions at Clyde Dam? Check this live webcam sponsored by Contact Energy updated every 15 minutes.

Here’s the weekend outlook:


There is a mixed weather forecast for Dunedin this long weekend. With Dunedin rivers clearing after mid-week rain, Friday is forecast to be the pick of the days with clear skies and light northeast winds. The northeast winds are forecast to increase Saturday afternoon bringing with it the variable weather. Scattered showers are forecasts for Sunday and Monday, but light winds ensure that conditions are still fishable.

The Taieri River at Outram has dropped and is now flowing at 16 cumecs at the time of writing this report. The water temperature was 12 degrees. 

Click here for live weather updates.



With clear frosty conditions forecast for Friday and Saturday they present the perfect opportunity to get out there into some of the backcountry rivers or target the river mouths. The cool overnight temperatures will ensure that the water remains oxygenated encouraging trout to actively feed. Light rain on Sunday and Monday may assist the anglers with a little extra cover if targeting spooky fish in gin clear water.

Click here for live weather updates.



Friday and Saturday are forecast to be stunning Central Otago days with clear skies and light variable winds. Be sure to pack enough warm clothes and dust off the waders if heading away as temperatures will drop near zero on both days. Sunday is forecast to bring scattered rain that will hang around Monday as well.

Click here for live weather updates.

Clutha Regional Forecast

Anglers are encouraged to make the most of favourable fishing conditions on Friday and Saturday. A brisk easterly is forecast to turn to the light northeasterlies Saturday morning bringing with it clear skies. Scattered rain threatens the area on Sunday and Monday. The Pomahaka will be low and wadable in sections, whilst the Lower Clutha is likely going to still be carrying some colour from earlier rain.

The Pomahaka River flow is below median flow at 9 cumecs

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha was 612 cumecs

Click here for live weather updates.


For more ORC water monitoring and alerts information click here.

Grab your licence online and let the angling adventures begin.

Got any Otago fishing news?

Send your fishing news and photos (with anglers’ names) to otago@fishandgame.org.nz for consideration in the weekly report.


Tight lines, 

Otago Fish & Game

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