Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 21 March 2024

  • 21/03/2024

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 21 March 2024

Make the most of the long weekend

Make the most of the extra day this Otago Anniversary long weekend for fishing.

The long-weekend weather forecast is a mixed bag. Saturday looks to be the pick of the fishing days in Central Otago with Sunday looking a touch nicer on the Coast. So, save any chores for the rainy days! Or pack a coat and get out there anyway.

Autumn is a great time of year for fishing. Snow and rain early this week helped cool rivers and – at least briefly - improved flows while much of the region endures dry conditions.

A 1.3kg Manorburn Dam rainbow caught on an olive Woolly Bugger. Photo: Lex Coutts.

To the Manorburn

On a recent fishing trip to Upper Manorburn Dam, angler Lex Coutts was struggling to catch anything due to a lack of surface activity. He changed tactics and started slowly stripping an olive Woolly Bugger when “bang!” he hooked up.

After a short fight he landed a nice 1.3kg rainbow, which after a quick photo he released. Lex’s says he’s lucky to have such a great fishery close to his home at Alexandra. 

For more information about the upper Manorburn fishery click here.


Deltas and mouths

Anglers are reporting good fishing at the river mouths and deltas of some of Otago’s rivers.

As brown trout and salmon begin congregating, they can aggressively strike at spinner lures or streamers. Dylan, from Hunting & Fishing Queenstown, recommends using a bladed spinner to maximise the chance of an aggressive strike. Large streamers such as Woolly Buggers and Black Rabbit can also be effective. Fly anglers should use a sinking tippet, sinking line or weighted fly to get down to the fish.

Please take note of the salmon bag limit in rivers above the Roxburgh Dam. Land-locked salmon may only be kept in the Clutha River/Mata-Au, Hāwea River, Kawarau River and Shotover River. All other rivers above Roxburgh Dam have a zero-bag limit for salmon.

For access locations to many river mouths and deltas click here.

River mouth safety

As we approach the cooler months and more anglers target the fish congregating around river mouths, it’s important everyone stays safe in these hazardous areas.

When fishing at a river mouth, anglers should take the following precautions:

  • Fish with a buddy, if possible.
  • Wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD).
  • Be aware of the currents and flow conditions in the area. These can change quickly and can be very strong.
  • Stay alert.
  • Use caution when walking on slippery rocks or sandbars.
  • A walking pole or stick can assist greatly.
  • Carry an emergency whistle or other signalling device.

Hunter River jetboat uplift

The Hunter River taken from a recently conducted Designated Water’s survey. Photo: Mason Court.

The Hunter River has a jetboat uplift period from the March 19 to April 30. Expect there to be significant river traffic as other recreational users head up the valley.

Please note anglers are not permitted to fish from a boat, canoe, pontoon or floatation device on the Hunter River.

Jetboats can be a serious hazard for unsuspecting anglers, as well as disturbing the water and spooking feeding fish. Some anglers say, jetboats get trout feeding by stirring up the bottom.

But if you’re looking for a backcountry fishing experience without the interruptions or risk, pick a waterway where you won’t get affected by a jetboat this weekend.


Stalking the shore

Anglers are still having success targeting cruising trout from the shore in the larger lakes.

Mark, from Southern Wild Wānaka, says brown trout are cruising the shallows of Lake Hāwea around The Neck. These fish have been chasing bullies, so a small streamer imitation such as a Mrs Simpson or Hamills Killer is the best way to target them. A pheasant-tailed nymph in a size 10 can also be effective as the bullies can be very small. 


Water temperatures

Pictured: The lower Clutha River/Mata-Au at Kaitangata where the water temperature this week is ideal for trout fishing. Photo: Bruce Quirey

If you’re out fishing, keep an eye on the temperature gauge.

You can get an overview of water temperatures on the Otago Regional Council’s Environmental Data Portal map.

The temperature can change significantly in a day. At the time of writing the Taieri was about 13 to 14 degrees Celsius, depending when and where you looked, and the Pomahaka at Burkes Ford was 12 deg C.

Trout are comfortable between 10 to 18 degrees Celsius. The sweet spot is 14 deg C, which means the lower Clutha River/Mata-Au temperature was just about perfect.

Below 10 deg C, trout become sluggish as their metabolism slows down.

Perch are happiest between 15 and 25 deg C, so it’s starting to get cool for them.


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

A screengrab of the Lake Wānaka webcam taken at the time of writing.

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


Here’s the weekend outlook:



Sunday is the pick for angling around Dunedin late this week with the showers and fresh south-westerlies forecast to clear overnight. Friday is forecast for low cloud and a possibly some light rain, ideal spinning conditions.  

The Taieri River at Outram was flowing at 2.2 cumecs, and the water temperature was 13.8 degrees C.

Click here for live weather updates.



Light winds with a chance of showers are forecast for Wānaka on Friday. Both Saturday and Sunday mornings are looking good, with Saturday being the pick. Cool air temperatures should offer relief to low-flowing rivers.

Click here for live weather updates.



Alexandra is forecast for cloud and showers on Friday before clearing on Saturday. Anglers should make the most of Saturday morning before a southerly wind develops in the afternoon. Sunday is forecast to be partly cloudy with a northerly wind in the afternoon.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast

A damp weekend is forecast for the Lower Clutha this week, with showers likely from Saturday afternoon on, with the possibility heavy rain in places. Sunday is the pick of the weekend days with mostly fine weather.

The Pomahaka River was flowing at 8.11 cumecs at the time of writing,

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha is flowing at 347 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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