Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 16 March 2023

  • Otago
  • 16/03/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 16 March 2023

Long Weekend Plans?

With multiple snow dustings over the Central Otago hills the change of season is truly being felt.  

With rain forecast for most of the region over Otago’s long weekend don’t be disheartened there is ample opportunities for fishing this weekend. With warm temperatures and light winds, it will just be important to pick your days and locations to maximise the unique opportunities this weather brings.

Above: Caleb Marfell of Dunedin with a good conditioned brown trout caught casting soft baits around a river mouth on Lake Hāwea. Credit: Ngaio Emson.



This brown trout took a damsel fly nymph in Lake Waihola this season. Credit: Bruce Quirey.

With the water cooling, brown trout will be coming back on the bite in Lake Waihola. The lake is on average only 2 metres deep, with the occasional 3 metre hole. Due to its shallow and weedy nature spin anglers are recommended to use light hard-bodied lures or soft baits. Waihola discolours easily after wind and therefore dark-coloured lures will stand out providing the best chance of enticing a bite.

Ryan from Hunting & Fishing Dunedin recommends trying the Gulp Soft bait range. In particular the Banana Prawn and Emerald shiner colours as these imitate the colours of the small fish that inhabit Lake Waihola. Fly fishing with small streamers such as a Rabbit Zonker or Fuzzy Wuzzys over the weed beds can prove extremely effective, drifting a small damsel pattern along the weed edges can also bring success.

The perch fishing in Lake Waihola can also be dynamite. Most perch are small with the occasional large one among them. Lake Mahinerangi is another location worth visiting for brown trout and perch. An angler who recently fished Lake Mahinerangi says perch numbers are extremely high. In one day, he caught 37 perch and his mate caught 22, the biggest of which weighed about 1.5 pounds (0.68kg).


Dunstan’s Weed Beds

Fishing the weed beds at the top of Lake Dunstan is still proving to be successful for both spin and fly anglers. Spin anglers are having particular success with black & gold toby and dark colored soft baits while fly anglers drifting small mayfly patterns in amongst the weed beds are consistently picking up fish, says Tim from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago.

On a negative note, there has been a lot of angler litter left around Lake Dunstan recently, if anglers could please make a conscious effort to double check they haven’t left any litter behind.

A feisty little Dustan rainbow which fell victim to an olive pearl soft bait fished between the weed beds. Credit: Mason Court.


Manuherikia Hatches

Tim reports that anglers are having success on the Manuherikia river with hatches providing an opportunity to cast at multiple feeding fish.  The smaller the better, Tim reckons, when attempting to match the hatches for these rising fish. Black Gnats & Nesameletus patterns in size 16-20 have been accounting for most fish with size 18 unweighted hare ears nymphs treated with floatant also being effective.  Tim says make sure to lengthen and lighten your leader to present these small flies in the most natural way possible and avoid spooking the trout.


Streamers in the Snowmelt

Streamers offer that extra protein large trout find difficult to resist, this lovely 9lb backcountry brown which fell victim to a streamer run through a deep pool. Credit: Ben Sowry.  

With a dusting of snow falling throughout Otago this week, the rivers are likely to be slightly discolored by snowmelt providing an excellent time to target trout using streamers, says Santillan from Hunting & Fishing Queenstown. Streamers can be extremely effective when fishing deep, slower sections of rivers or lakes.

When searching for fish, look for structure such as rocks and drop-offs, undercut banks and the edges of current seams. Ensuring that your streamer is getting down to the fish is extremely important, this can be achieved through a range of methods, including sinking fly line, sinking polyleaders which can be added to your floating fly line as well as lead weighted streamers. Santillan recommends casting up river at a 45 degree angle, then allowing the streamer to swing downstream then animated retrieve. Pay extra attention when streamer fishing as trout will often follow the streamer on the swing and hit it on the pause before the retrieve.

Upper Clutha Condition

Good numbers of feisty rainbows have been caught on Deans Bank within the last week reports Mark from Southern Wild Wānaka.  Deans Bank is Fly Fishing only area located on the Upper Clutha/Mata-Au above Albert Town. These fish although only averaging only 2-3lbs are providing great sport as they are all in excellent condition. Mark recommends targeting these fish using weighted nymphs and streamers, due to the colder air and water temperature mayfly patterns are extremely effective if there is a hatch present. 


Strong turnout for fishing event

Paul Dunn holds his prize-winning brown trout with his sons Logan (14, left) and Slade (12) at the combined Lower Clutha Fishing Competition and Bluelight fishing event in Balclutha on Sunday (March 12). Credit: Bruce Quirey. 

It was great to see so many families enjoying the day angling on the Clutha/Mata-Au on Sunday.

More than 260 anglers – half of them adults, half children – took part in the combined Lower Clutha Fishing Competition and Bluelight fishing event. Fifty fish were weighed in ─ 23 brown trout, 11 rainbow trout and 16 perch.Paul Dunn, of Balclutha, won the prize for heaviest brown trout (1.2kg) in the adult’s event.Holly Smith (8), of Clinton, caught the biggest fish in the Bluelight children’s event.Paul says he and his sons Logan (14) and Slade (12) headed to a couple of favourite spots on the Clutha River/Mata-Au on the day. Each caught a trout – two browns and a rainbow.It was cracker weather to be outdoors but the fishing was slower than usual. Paul was spin-fishing using a 1.5m fluorocarbon leader and a pink, green and blue Daiwa Chinook S lure.“I’d say it looks like a small rainbow trout,” he says.Fish & Game collected otoliths (ear bones) as part of the Brown Trout Origin research project. The research in partnership with the University of Otago is helping to identify crucial spawning habitat in the lower Clutha River/Mata-Au. The project is funded by Contact Energy.Thanks to Balclutha police, volunteers and sponsors.

Holly Smith (8), of Clinton, with her father Daryl, displays her catch which won the biggest fish of the children’s Bluelight event. Credit: Bruce Quirey.



Lower Clutha Trout Fishing Competition (adults event)

Heaviest brown: Paul Dunn (1.2kg), runner-up George Bonney (1.1kg).
Heaviest rainbow: Clement Lagrue (0.99kg), runner-up George Bonney (0.65kg)
Heaviest perch: Mark Begg (1.2kg), runner-up Fahmie Jamaluddin (0.95kg)


Bluelight Take a Kid Fishing Competition:

Heaviest brown: Holly Smith (1.2kg), runner-up Brydon Begg (1.1kg).
Heaviest rainbow:  Kaden Stanger (0.67kg), runner-up Slade Dunn (0.45kg)
Heaviest perch: Cooper Rhodes (0.81kg), runner-up Ada Begg (0.63kg).


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:



With heavy rain on Thursday and forecast for Friday expect another weekend of dirty rivers. with Southwesterlies easing Saturday morning combined with mostly clear skies forecast for Sunday these provide the best opportunity to get out fishing. The warm air temperature should ensure that if protected from the scattered rain you have a pleasant temperature to fish in.  Monday is forecast for strong westerlies and with it more rain.

 At the time of writing this report the Taieri River at Outram was flowing at 5.5 cumecs’. The water temperature was 15.8 degrees.

Click here for live weather updates.



Heavy rain warnings are in place for Thursday night - Friday morning, it is recommended to get out there on Saturday and Sunday morning and take advantage of the light northeasterlies , warm air temperature and isolated showers before the rain and winds rolls back in on Sunday afternoon with Northerlies developing. Monday brings more rain and strong southwesterlies.

Click here for live weather updates.



Heavy rain warnings are in place for Friday, While rain is forecast for most of the weekend for Alexandra, it is recommended to get out there on Saturday and take advantage of the light winds, warm air temperature and isolated showers before the rain and winds rolls back in on Sunday afternoon with Northerlies developing. Monday brings with it more heavy rain.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast

With mid-week rain giving the Pomahaka a well needed boost, more heavy rain warning in place for Friday, expect the rivers to rise and dirty. Limited rain and light Northwesterlies make more excellent fishing conditions on the Saturday and Sunday to take advantage of this recent fresh.

At the time of writing this report, the Pomahaka River flow is at 6 cumecs, dropping from 14 cumecs over night(Wednesday)  while the lower Clutha River at Balclutha was at 525 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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