Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 14 December 2023

  • Otago
  • 14/12/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 14 December 2023

Pictured right: Angus Davis with a 2-year-old hatchery rainbow trout caught at Tomahawk Lagoon on a pink soft bait lure. Credit: Ross Taylor.

Tomahawk restocked

Grab the family, the rods, a picnic, and your fishing licence. Otago Fish & Game recently released 2-year-old rainbow trout into Tomahawk Lagoon in Dunedin. These fish each weigh about 1kg. Tomahawk holds hatchery-reared rainbow trout, the occasional larger brown trout, and perch. The daily bag limit is 1 trout. All legal fishing methods – bait, spin and fly - are permitted. Tomahawk has a shallow and weedy bottom. If spin fishing, try using lightly weighted lures. Another idea with spinning gear is to cast a bubble float with a worm bait or a fly pattern suspended below it. The lagoon is prone to algae growth when summer temperatures reach their peak, so now is as good a time as ever to have a go.

Damsels on the hatch

We’re hearing that stillwaters across the region are experiencing large damselfly hatches. Damselflies spend most of their life as a nymph, living in weed beds in still or slow-moving waters. As the water temperatures rise, these insects migrate to the shore to hatch into the familiar adult form.
Trout patrol the shorelines looking to ambush these nymphs as they leave the safety of the weed bed. Anglers should look for fish near weed beds, or along the shoreline, and present an imitation with either a flyrod or a bubble and float. Fly anglers can either suspend the nymph under an indicator so the fly sits above the weeds, or retrieve the fly slowly on a long, light leader.

Tim from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago says these fish can be extra spooky, because they are often feeding in less than half a foot water. Popular flies include damsel patterns or a pheasant tail nymph on sizes #14 to #10.

Summer jetboating update

Did you know not all rivers are open for boating? When planning your boating ensure you are complying and check the rivers you are heading to have an 'uplifting', which means you can boat at a speed exceeding 5 knots.

The jet boat uplifting period on the Hunter River finished on December 12. The next uplift period starts on March 19 to April 30.  For more information contact your regional council or Jet Boating NZ.

The festiva season

Green mānuka beetles are out in numbers and trout will be looking up. Credit: Ben Sowry.

Between now and Christmas is the prime time to target trout feeding on green mānuka beetles carpeting the water’s surface.

Green beetles are prolific from November to January. Their habitat consists mostly of bushland near streams and, as they are clumsy fliers, will often get blown onto the water.

Every year, these beetles emerge on shrubs and trees  ̶  not just mānuka as their name suggests. These metallic green insects adorn the trees like Christmas decorations. Their scientific name is Pyronota festiva.

Unlike the brown beetle, it is active during the day and often a small breeze can cause some to fall from the vegetation into the water, causing trout to feed.

Fly anglers should use specialist beetle imitations, Coch-Y-Bondhu or Royal Wulff flies, either cast at sighted fish, or in areas where fish may be holding. In rivers, this is along the edges, especially near an undercut bank. For lake anglers, foam lines near the shore, or beaches near overhanging vegetation are best.
Spin anglers can use the same fly patterns with a bubble float. Remember that although a fly is used in this process, it is legally classed as spin fishing and is not allowed in fly only waters.

Simon Chu at the Fly Bar

Simon Chu.

Want to get inspired and sharpen your fly-tying skills? Patagonia Tāhua/Queenstown will host expert fly angler Simon Chu for an interactive evening from 6.30pm-9.30pm on Friday, December 15, at 49 Beach St, Queenstown. The night will consist of tying flies and yarning about Simon’s life spent immersed in the sport of fly fishing. Simon has a large and varied list of accomplishments and a contagious passion for inspiring others. Numbers are limited so please RVSP your interest to santillan.depinto@patagonia.co.nz.

Who can use a family licence?

It’s great seeing young people out there fishing. But rangers sometimes find junior anglers listed on a family licence fishing alone. Juniors wanting to fish alone need a separate licence. The family licence allows one person (the primary licence holder), or one person and that person's spouse or partner (the secondary licence holder) and their children or grandchildren (who are under 18 years of age on October 1) to fish together. The secondary licence holder may take the children named on the licence fishing (and fish themselves with the children) without the primary holder taking part. Only the primary licence holder may use this licence to fish on their own. If family participants, including the secondary licence holder, want to fish independently, they will need a separate licence. Child licences (under 12) are free. Check out Fishing Licence FAQs on our website.

Lake Wānaka live webcam



Want to know conditions at Lake Wānaka? Check this live webcam from the Wānaka water sports facility.

Here’s the weekend outlook:


An evening fish on Friday could be a sound idea. Occasional rain, showers and cloudy conditions are expected on Saturday and Sunday. Don’t be put off though. Fish don’t mind water. Be prepared to move about as the forecast wind swings about from northeasterlies on Friday to southerlies turning easterly on Saturday, then fresh southwesterlies later on Sunday.

The Taieri River at Outram yesterday was flowing at 4.2 cumecs. The water temperature was 16.7℃.

Click here for live weather updates.


The weather looks good for fishing around Wānaka. Showers tomorrow should clear in the afternoon in Wānaka. Saturday looks fine. Pack a rain jacket for a few showers on Sunday before clearing. Northerlies develop on Saturday morning, and on Sunday northwesterlies. Take care on the lakes when the wind gets up.

Click here for live weather updates.


Fine weather is forecast across Central Otago this weekend. Northerlies develop on Saturday morning. Northwesterlies turn southwesterly on Sunday. Go find those green mānuka beetles getting blown onto water.

Click here for live weather updates.

Clutha Regional Forecast

Tomorrow northwesterlies turn southwesterly. Clouds clear on Saturday, becoming fine in the evening and easterlies ease. Cool but fishy! Sunday starts fine before occasional rain develops. Westerlies become fresh. The Pomahaka River level jumped up on Wednesday morning but was falling. The Pomahaka River yesterday afternoon was flowing at 14.3 cumecs.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha yesterday afternoon was 510 cumecs and falling.

Click here for live weather updates.

Getting started

Need a fishing licence? Go online here, 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.  If photographing a fish to be released, hold the fish over water and make it quick – the fish should not be out of the water for more than five seconds.

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