Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 13 April 2023

  • Otago
  • 13/04/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 13 April 2023

Pictured above: Jack Hadland with a lovely Waipori River brown trout that could not resist a soft bait worked along the edges of the raupō. Credit: Ian Hadland.

Take advantage of a stunning weekend

With more heavy rain throughout the week expect rivers to be carrying colour this weekend. Fortunately, it looks like the weather is set to clear up by Friday, which should help to alleviate some of the negative impacts of the recent rain.

Clearer skies and calmer weather will also provide better fishing conditions for anglers, as trout actively feed looking to pack on condition prior to spawning. Don’t be afraid to explore further and seek out clear spring-fed creeks and rivers as these can offer red-hot late season fishing. However, it's also important to be prepared to fish in dirtier or clearing rivers. These types of water can still offer great fishing opportunities but may require different techniques and strategies.

Hungry trout on the Waipori

Recently, a father and son contest between the Hadlands on the Waipori River yielded a number of under-conditioned brown trout. Many of these fish are believed to have endured a challenging summer due to high water temperatures.

With the spawning season either underway or quickly approaching, these trout should have been in optimal condition. The Hadlands noted that the Daiwa mudblood-coloured soft bait was the most effective colour enticing multiple bites throughout the evening. While there was no surface action, the fish appeared to be feeding on baitfish in the margins of the raupō.

Ian Hadland with a poor conditioned brown trout that could use some serious protein prior to spawning. Credit: Jack Hadland.

Tokomairiro River firing

Hadley from Hunting & Fishing Dunedin says the Tokomairiro River is currently offering some great fishing opportunities. Hadley recommends targeting the section below Duns Bridge in particular, although he notes that most of the river is fishing well at the moment. According to Hadley, olive and bronze pearl soft baits paired with a light jig head have been bringing success when worked along the edges and through the deeper runs.

Extra motion

As the end of the fishing season draws near, it's common for fish to become more cautious due to the significant amount of fishing pressure they've experienced throughout the season.

However, Tim Johnson from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago has found that adding extra motion to his flies has been an effective method in persuading trout to commit. Tim recommends using smaller pheasant-tailed and CDC-style nymphs, ranging in size from 16 to 18, and giving them a gentle twitch as they approach the fish. It's important to exercise caution when twitching the fly line, as creating drag, or presenting an unrealistic drift could quickly turn the fish off. Overall, incorporating additional motion into your fly presentation may be just what's needed to successfully entice those cagey end-of-season trout.

Tim Johnson with a great conditioned brown trout which after an early rejection of a dry could not resist a twitched pheasant tailed nymph. Credit: Tim Johnson.

Promise of protein 

Trout require a significant amount of energy to successfully complete their spawning activities. This means that in the weeks leading up to spawning, trout will often seek out high-protein food sources to build up their energy reserves.

Common protein-rich foods for trout include small fish, crustaceans, and larger aquatic insects such as stoneflies. For anglers, this presents a perfect opportunity to target fish that are often feeding aggressively and cannot resist the promise of extra protein in the form of a large stonefly or streamer pattern. During periods of rising water levels, don’t be afraid to go big and heavy to reach fish that may be holding at the bottom of the pool. Anglers have recently reported success in backcountry rivers using large stonefly patterns such a 101 or Simons Ugly. However, it's important to ensure that you have a large dry fly or indicator significant enough to hold the heavy flies to avoid missing any takes.

A fly box full of pre-spawning specials hopefully to entice a bite out of a trout that can’t resist the promise of extra protein. Credit: Mason Court.

Getting down

With increased rainfall resulting in high, swollen rivers it is important to get down to the fish. Santillan from Queenstown Hunting & Fishing recommends adding a spool of Di3 or Di5 sinking line to your arsenal.

These sinking lines are even effective on the smaller rivers as they allow you to fish high flows or deeper pools unreachable with floating lines. Sinking lines can be paired with a booby fly to float off the bottom or another streamer like a woolly bugger to work the area closer to the bottom.

Don’t be afraid to get flashy

Nick from Southern Wild in Wānaka is recommending spin anglers to add some flashy lures to their tackle box as we approach winter. Fishing lures that have flashes of gold or silver can be an effective way to attract attention and entice bites from fish, whether in clear or dirty water conditions.

One option Nick suggests is the black and gold hex wobbler. This lure casts well and has a smaller profile than other lures of the same weight, allowing for longer casts and more time in the strike zone. Nick also suggests varying your retrieval speed to work different areas of the water column and potentially trigger more bites.

Sea-run salmon

A few large sea-run salmon have been caught below Roxburgh Dam in recent weeks. Graeme Rae, of Teviot Angling Club, has been helping to survey angler catches in the lower Clutha at Roxburgh on behalf of Otago Fish & Game in the past few weeks.

He has seen or heard of at least half a dozen salmon caught in the area during this time. There were also indications of other salmon catches, he says. Graeme, who conducted a similar survey last year, says there was only one report of a salmon caught below the dam around the same time of year in 2022.  The legal minimum length for any salmon kept below Roxburgh Dam is 450mm.  Use of a float or floating device on a fishing line is not permitted in the section of the Clutha River downstream of Roxburgh Dam to the Roxburgh Township Bridge.

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:


Due to significant rainfall in Dunedin over the past week, the rivers are expected to be running high and carrying a lot of colour. As of Wednesday night, Taieri River at Outram had risen to 85 cumecs, but at the time of writing was flowing at 62 cumecs. Clear skies and warm northerly breezes are forecasted to last the entire weekend, which will assist in clearing up the rivers. However, don't be afraid to explore the area's lakes and reservoirs.

Click here for live weather updates.


Excellent fishing weather is forecasted for Wānaka this weekend, with clear skies and warm northerly breezes in contrast to last weekend's frosts. Similar to above, the rivers are expected to be running high and carrying a lot of colour. The pleasant conditions should encourage anglers to target the lakes and river mouths if the rivers haven't cleared significantly. Don't forget to pack your sunblock and be prepared for a great weekend of fishing.

Click here for live weather updates.


Another favourable forecast is expected for Alexandra this weekend, with warm, clear skies and light northerly winds. Due to the heavy rain received during the week, many of Central Otago's rivers may still be blown out. However, the warm and still weather conditions are ideal for productive fishing on the reservoirs and stillwaters, which would not have been affected by the rain.

Click here for live weather updates.

Clutha Regional Forecast

Excellent weather is forecast for this weekend, if only the rivers got the message. Both the Lower Clutha and Pomahaka are experiencing high flows and carrying some colour. Temperatures are only once forecast to drop below double digits thanks to the warm northerly breeze for the weekend, making it an excellent time to get out in the area and explore fishable water.

At the time of writing, the Pomahaka River flow was well above median flow at 45 cumecs.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha was 750 cumecs and still climbing.

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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