Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 20 April 2023

  • Otago
  • 20/04/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 20 April 2023

Above: Daniel Natta with an excellent conditioned brown trout from the Owaka River. Credit: Robbie Natta.

ANZAC Day opportunities

With ANZAC Day falling on a Tuesday next week, there will likely be a few leave days used on Monday to take advantage of the excellent fishing conditions via an extended long weekend.

Limited rainfall throughout the week has ensured most rivers have dropped and cleared, providing improved sight fishing opportunities for anglers. Some light rain and wind are forecast for Sunday evening and Monday across the region before clearing on Tuesday. This sprinkling of rain should provide anglers ideal conditions to take advantage of the public holiday to travel and explore a new area.  

Appealing to different senses

Trout will rely on other senses if they cannot see their prey. When rainfall affects visibility in the rivers, Tim from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago recommends bait fishing or bright spinners if the water is discoloured. He suggests trying Lake Dunstan near Smiths Way or above the Bendigo Campground.

With rainfall affecting the visibility in the rivers over the last couple of weeks, trout have had to adapt their feeding habits in order ensure that they can put on the extra condition required for spawning. Tim from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago recommends trying out bait fishing with a prawn or a worm. Bait fishing can be extreme effective in discoloured water as the added scent from the bait can draw the trout in from a great distance and is not reliant on sight to be effective. Tim also reports angler having success using bright spinners and soft baits in the discoloured water. Tim recommends that Bait anglers fishing Lake Dunstan try out along Smiths Way or up from the Bendigo Campground as these provide the areas with deep channels ideal for bait fishing.

Fluctuating lake levels

Lake Dunstan is a highly productive fishery, providing exceptional shore angling for trout. Due to its nature as a hydroelectricity dam, the lake levels are prone to fluctuation. This can affect how anglers fish the lake, particularly at the head of the lake where the Clutha/Mata-au enters.

During high levels, brown trout will push onto the flats, feeding on invertebrates that were otherwise protected from predation by the low water levels. Using a boatman or damselfly imitation can prove deadly to these fish. When the lake is low, these fish will drop back into the channels in the lakebed, and near weedy areas.

The rainbow trout generally spend all their time in these channels and deeper water, as they are more reluctant to venture into the shallower waters. Small soft baits and spinners can work well, and fly anglers are best to blind fish these channels with a nymph under an indicator. Cast out and let the fly sit for several minutes before recasting and laying the trap in a new location.

The link for the ORC monitoring of lake Dunstan levels can be found below:



An angler surveys the flats at the top of Lake Dunstan. Credit: Mason Court.

Mayfly hatches

Mayfly hatches are providing excellent evening fishing from the Albert Town outlet towards Deans Bank, says Nick from Southern Wild Wānaka. With rainbows rising to these mayfly hatches and brown trout cruising the edges at Deans Bank, it is well worth a walk. It’s important to match the hatch with a variety of mayfly patterns in the forms of small dries, emergers and nymphs.. Nick encourages anglers to be patient if a boat travels past as trout often stop rising, but generally resume feeding rafter a small period of time.

Exploring the Catlins

Tannin-stained waters, shrubby riverbanks and more twists and turns than a mystery novel, the Catlins is often overlooked by anglers. But this area is well worth exploring.  Father and son Robbie and Daniel Natta landed some nice browns in the Owaka River recently.  Robbie says the further upriver they went, the better condition the fish were. Try standard nymph patterns such as hares ear and pheasant tail under a small but easy to see dry. Gold-beaded and orange hot-headed models of both nymphs can provide that extra attraction in the tannin-stained water.

Download the Catlins brochure here.Robbie Natta with a lovely coloured brown trout plucked from the Owaka River on a father-son mission. Credit: Daniel Natta.

Soft baiting the Kawarau

Anglers soft baiting the Upper Kawarau are having success, says Angus from Hunting & Fishing Queenstown. Casting upstream and swinging the soft bait similar to that of a streamer has been the most effective method. Anglers are also getting strikes as they retrieve the soft bait back along the river edge.  An area that provides easy access and some great fishing is the section between the Kawarau Delta and Lake Hayes. Angus recommends using natural-coloured soft baits such as olive and bronze pearl.  Ensure the soft bait is threaded on straight and use the correct jig head weight to present the soft bait as realistically as possible.

Southern Lakes spawning salmon

Landlocked salmon of Wānaka, Hāwea, Dunstan and Wakatipu will now be making their way to the top of the lakes and tributaries to spawn. While this is a good time to target these species at river mouths, there is a zero-bag limit for salmon in rivers above the Roxburgh Dam and they must be released.  These salmon often congregate in deep water at the edge of river mouths before pushing up into the rivers. If targeting them at river mouths, try small silver spinners or soft baits. Mixing up your lure and jig head weights to ensure you get down to the salmon is equally important.

A standard sized landlocked salmon hen caught during its spawning run on one of Wakatipu’s tributaries. Credit: Steve Dixon.

Upper Taieri

Hadley from Dunedin Hunting & Fishing Dunedin says extra -large brown trout have been seen in the Upper Taieri River above Hyde. He headed up there to fish clearer water as the river was discoloured lower down. Black and gold soft baits proved to be effective on the Taieri’s trout population. Hadley landed a few nice specimens, but the larger fish he saw proved elusive. He also recommends checking out Hore’s Control Pond as it produced some excellent fishing last week.  The fish seemed to favour the motion of Shimano Waxwing lures in the green shad colour.

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:


Another variable weather forecast for Dunedin this weekend with Friday and Saturday forecast to provide the best fishing conditions with light northeasterlies and scattered clouds. A strong southerly change on Sunday is forecast to bring strong southwesterlies and rain that will last to Monday evening. Light westerlies and overcast conditions provide pleasant condition for anglers to fish on the public holiday but be prepared for that forecasted rain to have affected rivers. The Taieri River at Outram at the time of writing was flowing at 30.6 cumecs and dropping.

Click here for live weather updates.


Ideal fishing condition for Wānaka this weekend with warm northwesterly breezes ensuring the temperature remains pleasant. A southwesterly shift on Monday will bring rain and strong wind, however, it shifts back to the northwest Tuesday morning providing excellent conditions for ANZAC Day. Expected most rivers to be running clear and cool with fish actively feeding prior to spawning.

Click here for live weather updates.


Light overcast conditions may provide difficult spotting conditions for anglers around Alexandra wanting to sight fish the recently cleared rivers. A southwesterly change on Monday brings showers and stiff winds. Much like Wānaka forecast the weather shifts towards the north on Tuesday, providing clear skies and warm light winds providing an excellent forecast to take advantage of the public holiday and get out fishing.

Click here for live weather updates.

Clutha Regional Forecast

Mixed weather forecast this weekend for the lower Clutha with pleasant fishing conditions forecast Friday and Saturday. The weather then shifts to gusty westerlies raising to gales in the evening. Light westerlies and overcast conditions are forecast for Monday with snow forecast to fall to 100 metres. Tuesday morning provides respite from the weather with light westerlies.

At the time of writing, the Pomahaka River flow was below median flow at 9.3 cumecs.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha was 639.3 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.

More Posts