Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 2 March 2023

  • Otago
  • 2/03/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 2 March 2023

Weekend Refresh for the Rivers

Weekend rain across the region may hamper some plans, however, it will provide another well needed boost for our rivers. Expect rivers to rise and be dirty over the weekend, but for those brave enough to fish in the rain there are ample opportunities to take advantage of.


Wolfgang Hale (9) and father Ashley Hale happy with a well-conditioned rainbow trout caught while
trolling on Lake Hāwea. Photo: Ben Sowry.


Escape the Heat, go Deep

With warm clear weather over the week, the fish are holding deep below the thermocline in our southern lakes. If you are looking for a method to target these deeper fish and don’t have access to a down-rigger, Mark from Southern wild in Wānaka recommends trying out jigging.

Mark reports anglers having success jigging for salmon on Lake Hāwea in particular. One angler reported having caught multiple salmon from a school over 40m deep. Jigging commonly involves using up to three Iies tied on short droppers above a one-ounce lead weight at the bottom. The weight can be removed for a soft bait or spinner, however, one fIy must be removed as the maximum numbers of hooks allowed per regulation is three. Commonly used fIies include smelt fIies, woolly buggers, boobie fIies and rabbit fIies in sizes 6-10. Once a school has been located using the sounder, the fIies are dropped to the desired depth and slowly jigged up and down through the school. Mark says it’s important to use a rod with a sensitive tip to ensure you don’t miss any bites.


Cicadas Gone, or are they?

There have been mixed reports coming in regarding cicadas. While it was thought last week’s cold snap would have spelled the end for cicadas, there have been reports of some red-hot cicada fishing on some backcountry rivers. But others have reported a complete absence. If no cicadas are heard or spotted on your river, try changing down a size or switching to a blowfIy intimation to cover your bases. Santillan from Queenstown Hunting & Fishing recommends getting out and chasing some of our large backcountry brown trout after this weekend of rain. “Now those frustrating willow grubs are gone, and the large trout are looking up targeting large terrestrials and cicadas, it’s a great time to get out and chase them. The Fish & Game regulation booklet o\er some hints when it comes to picking a river,” says Santillan.


Honorary Ranger Mike Teasdale checks the licence of a compliant fly angler up at Poolburn


Spin for the Win

Ryan from Hunting & Fishing Dunedin says the Waipori River has been fishing well with reports from anglers commonly catching brown trout between 3-6lb. Most of these fish are succumbing to softbaits with the Olive Pearl being the colour of choice. Spinning has proven to be elective on the Clutha/Mata-Au River. Anglers around Beamount have been picking up multiple trout casting black and gold tobies from the bank. Ryan recommends ensuring that your spinner is heavy enough to reach the fish in the Clutha/Mata-Au, as they often hold near the bottom half metre of the river.


River Mouths Holding

During recent lake surveys Fish & Game staff have seen large numbers of trout congregating at river mouths and drop-ffs. Tim from Central Otago Hunting & Fishing recommends targeting these fish by trolling or casting small spinners and soft baits along the edge of the river mouths and drop-offs. Tim also says the bait anglers using whole shrimp at the top of Lake Dunstan are having success with good- conditioned rainbows coming to the net.

A feisty river mouth rainbow ready for release. Photo: Allan Carpenter.


Lower Clutha Fishing Competition

Don’t miss the Lower Clutha Trout Fishing Competition on Sunday, March 12, supporting trout research and the Clutha community.

The event, run by Otago Fish & Game, is linking up with the children's Bluelight Fishing Competition, backed by Balclutha police and the local community. Same day. Same weigh-in.
Up to $3000 worth of Sshing prizes for adults are up for grabs. Plenty of children’s prizes are also on offer in the Bluelight competition. Fish & Game will collect trout heads at the weigh-in to study where trout spawn and spend most of their lives.

Where: The Clutha River, from below Roxburgh Dam to the sea, and the lower Pomahaka River:
When: Sunday, March 12, from 8.30 am to 2.30 pm.
Weigh-in: Balclutha Association Football Club, Glasgow Street, Balclutha, 2.30pm-3.30pm.
Prize-giving: 4 pm.
How to enter: Online at the Otago Fish & Game Facebook page, www.surveymonkey.com/r/SZBSL5W, or pick up an entry form from Balclutha Police Station or Stirling Sports Balclutha.


Balclutha angler Mark Kingipotiki with his winning 2kg brown trout at the Lower Clutha Trout Fishing Competition in November 2021. Photo: Bruce Quirey.


Low Levels at Lake Onslow

Fish & Game staff are hearing feedback from anglers concerned about the poor fish condition and access difficulties related to unusually low water levels at Lake Onslow. The low level may look bad, however, it is completely authorised by the current consent conditions for Pioneer Energy, which draws down the water for power generation. Otago Fish & Game officers will be conducting research on the sports fish population in Lake Onslow this week. It is worth noting that with the forecasted rain this weekend it is recommended to carefully assess the road as Seld staff found it inaccessible last week after the rain and should only be attempted in a suitable 4WD.


Clyde Dam Live Webcam


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:



Not the clear skies and light winds many anglers were hoping for this weekend, with rain and southerlies forecast, however, with the rain and wind easing on Monday this will provide an ideal
opportunity to Ssh some clearing rivers. The Taieri River at Outram was fIowing at 3.372 cumecs but expect it to rise. The water temperature was 18.3 degrees.

Click here for live weather updates.




Sunday afternoon looks to be the pick of the weekend days with rain clearing and southeasterlies dropping. Monday is forecast for light winds and clear skies, perfect for targeting those active fish feeding after the rain.

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Heavy rain and stiff southerlies make for unpleasant fishing conditions on Saturday, with rainfall somewhat easing on Sunday. Mondays clear skies and variable winds make for the most inviting day to get out.

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Clutha Regional Forecast


With rainfall forecast to be the heaviest on Friday then easing throughout the weekend, it will bring much needed rain to the Pomahaka, which is currently below minimal Iow. At the time of writing the Pomahaka River fIow was 3.568 cumecs and the Lower Clutha River at Balclutha was 373.275 cumecs.

Click here for live weather updates.

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