Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 18 January 2024

  • Otago
  • 18/01/2024

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 18 January 2024

Above: Zoe Flockton and Jack Hadland with a brown trout caught fly fishing using a nymph drifted over a drop-off on the edge of the upper Clutha River in the summer holiday. Credit: Ian Hadland.

Fine-tuning tactics for fussy fish

Rivers around Wānaka are still holding good numbers of trout, says Connor from Southern Wild Wānaka.

These resident trout are proving not as easy to catch compared with earlier in the season when they would readily take a range of flies, softbaits and spinners. Now they’re often set on eating only one specific prey.

Using a dry dropper and a small-beaded nymph is often an excellent way to cover your bases when targeting these resident fish. They are often in excellent condition, resulting in tough fights dragging the angler downstream to pools below. Spin anglers should try natural colours and smaller lures, such as Tobys and other spinners, in the 7 gram size.

Connor’s favourite dry flies for Wānaka’s rivers are currently Dad’s Favourite, Parachute Adams and Black Humpy all in size 14.

Don’t forget your Designated Water licence

Anglers are urged to double-check that they have the appropriate licence for the river they intend to fish.

Fish & Game rangers conducting compliance checks and surveys have recently noticed an increase in anglers unable to produce a valid Designated Waters Licence. This offence often results in the offending angler’s fishing gear being seized and an offence notice issued  ̶  a sure way to ruin your day’s fishing.

It is a requirement that along with your Whole Season Licence you carry a copy of your Designated Waters Licence whenever fishing in Designated Waters fishery. After buying this licence, take a screenshot of your confirmation email on your mobile phone, as emails often don’t load if you have limited phone service. Otherwise, carry a printout of your Designated Waters Licence in a ziplock bag.

Otago has nine Designated Waters fisheries. More information can be found here.


Spooky in the shallows

Dylan Craigie with the only fish he and a mate managed to land during their trip, a stunning brown trout jack which could not resist a small tungsten-beaded nymph. Credit: Jack Russell.

Anglers are reporting some ultra-challenging fishing conditions with shallow, clear water and spooky fish after recent rain seems to have missed certain parts of the region.

One such angler was Dylan from Hunting & Fishing Queenstown, who during a  recent trip into the headwaters of one of Otago’s Designated Waters rivers saw more than 15 feeding fish, but only managed to land one.  

Ways to increase your chances with spooky fish in shallow water include increasing your leader length, decreasing your tippet weight/diameter, fishing a single fly (dry or nymph) with no indicator, and importantly ensuring your first cast is your best cast. Anglers often don’t get more than one cast at these large, well-educated fish. Take a moment to sit and watch the fish for 5-10 minutes to understand its feeding pattern and calculate the best place to land your fly.

Dylan found success using size 14-16 nymphs with tungsten beads and no indicator.


Lake Mahinerangi

Craig and Suzanne Stoddart, of Lawrence, caught these brown trout trolling at Lake Mahinerangi last Friday. Credit: Bruce Quirey.

Lake Mahinerangi was fishing well when Fish & Game rangers conducted compliance checks there last week. We met Craig and Suzanne Stoddart, of Lawrence, who had caught two nice brown trout and a perch trolling a black-and-gold Toby lure during their first fishing outing of the season. The lake level is 384.6 metres above sea level  ̶  about 4 metres below full. The good news is the extended concrete boat ramp at the Edgar Stark Bridge reaches the water’s edge. You can always check the level at Manawa Energy’s Waipori Power Scheme webpage here. As a reference point, the lake’s full level is 388.4 metres.


Greenstone Controlled Fishery

A Controlled Fishery Period applies from 1 February to 31 March each season on the Upper Greenstone River, from the swing bridge at McKellar Hut to the Sly Burn confluence.

The Controlled Fishery Period requires anglers to make a booking in order to fish the Upper Greenstone River and ensures anglers will have exclusive angling access to a determined stretch of river (a beat) for the period of their booking. Beats are booked via an online booking system that operates on a first-come, first-served basis. A booking may be made for one primary angler and one companion angler who must both hold a valid Whole Season Fishing Licence and an Otago Designated Waters Licence. Bookings can only be made up to five days in advance of your intended fishing trip, including on the intended day of fishing. You can select up to a maximum of three consecutive days per booking.

Click for more information.


Butter perch

Left: Jayde Couper with a pair of large perch, soon to be converted into a delicious curry (right). Photo: Erin Couper

Looking for a tasty new way to enjoy all those perch you have been catching this summer?

Otago Fish & Game’s Jayde Couper shared an excellent recipe for perch  ̶  sure to be a fast favourite with the family. By the way, the perch were caught on pearl-coloured soft baits. Where there’s one perch, there’s often more. Jayde caught nothing for 45 minutes, then saw a boil and cast towards it. He caught four perch around this size in six casts.

Serves four.

  • 1 can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
  • 5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless perch fillets cut into 5cm cubes
  • 4 ounces butter, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh coriander
  1. In a large pot, add the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, one teaspoon of garam masala, cumin, and salt. Cook on high for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Using a blender, blend these ingredients into a smooth sauce. Then return to the pot. Let the sauce cool for several minutes.
  3. Gently bring a large pan to heat, with a dash of olive, salt and pepper. Add perch fillets to pan fry until fillets are cooked through.
  4. To the sauce, add the butter cubes, cream, remaining teaspoon of garam masala, and coriander. Stir until well incorporated. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon when you’re done.
  5. Remove half of the sauce and freeze it for later, or refrigerate for as long as three days.
  6. Add the perch to the sauce. Preheat pot and leave on a low heat. Let the perch heat through.
  7. Serve over rice.


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.



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:



Another mixed forecast for Dunedin this weekend with showers early on Friday morning before clearing. Saturday is forecast to be a stunning day to take advantage of Friday’s rain having refreshed rivers, with clear skies and limited wind. Stiff southerly winds are forecast to develop late Saturday afternoon. Scattered rainfall is expected on Sunday resulting in a drop of air temperature.

The Taieri River at Outram is flowing at 3.3 cumecs. Expect the flow to increase slightly with the forecasted rain.

Click here for live weather updates.



Wānaka has a heavy rain warning for Friday morning until midnight. Expect the rivers to rise, particularly around Makarora. Saturday is forecast to be cloudy in the morning before clearing in the afternoon. Sunday is the pick of the forecast with light winds and limited cloud cover offering an excellent opportunity to target those fast-clearing rivers.

Click here for live weather updates.



The weekend in Alexandra is forecast to be favourable for angling with light winds and limited cloud cover for both Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s showers should top up many of the reservoirs and cool water temperatures, providing good fishing conditions. Showers are forecast to develop mid-morning on Friday before clearing on Saturday morning.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast


Rain is forecast to fall on Friday around the Clutha district, with scattered showers and northerlies developing in the evening. Saturday is forecast to be partly cloudy with isolated showers clearing in the evening. Northwesterlies should turn lighter southwesterly in the afternoon. Sunday is forecast for high cloud cover with showers developing in the evening. The Pomahaka River was dropping from last week’s rainfall, but expect it to rise slightly again with Friday’s forecasted showers.

The Pomahaka River is currently flowing at 6.0 cumecs.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha is flowing at 427 cumecs.

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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