Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 25 January 2024

  • Otago
  • 25/01/2024

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 25 January 2024

Pictured above: Lily Manson with a 4.5lb rainbow that rose for a small CDC emerger around the edge of Upper Manorburn Reservoir. Credit: Tim Johnson.

Manorburn magic

Several rivers have been getting high or discoloured from rain, limiting fishing options when the weekends roll around. Fortunately, that's not the case for all of them.

Stillwaters such as lakes and large reservoirs have also been a saving grace for anglers chasing sight-fishing opportunities.

Tim, from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago, recently had a tricky but rewarding day at the Upper Manorburn Reservoir. Despite spooky fish in shallow water, he landed some excellent conditioned rainbows. Tim and his partner Lily had success after lengthening their leaders and dropping down to size 16 CDC emergers.

Tim says even though no fish were rising throughout the day, all of their fish were caught on dry flies.

Small, natural coloured soft baits, traffic light Tasmanian devil lures, and bait-fishing with worms and a small sinker are also popular and effective methods at Upper Manorburn.

Fish had a gutsful

Little wonder this trout had refused soft baits. Credit: Ian Hadland.

A shore-based angler getting constant refusals of soft baits from a trout in Lake Hāwea couldn’t understand why. The fish was in about 2 metres depth of water near the edge. The angler tried all sorts of the retrievals only to be ignored.

Eventually he got his fly rod from his truck and cast a large dry fly. The trout rose immediately and took it.

The reason for the trout’s disdain for plastics soon became apparent. Inside its stomach was a soft bait. How it ended up in there is a mystery. There was no evidence of a hook, which may have rotted away, but more likely another angler had dropped an unrigged soft bait into the lake and the fish picked it up.

What’s your theory?  


Damsel dry hard to resist

David Dodd hooks up with a red damsel dry [inset] last weekend. Credit: Bruce Quirey.

David Dodd ties a red damsel dry fly that works nicely on the Taieri River when adult damsels are around. This imitation of an adult damsel was prepared a few years ago by Dave Harris from the Southland Fly Fishers Club on the suggestion of Ian Michelson.

You’ll find this pattern and other good ones on the Southland Fly Fishers Club website. Unlike some other rivers, the Taieri River has been low recently and fished well last weekend. Surface-feeding brown trout were taking dry imitations such as adult damsels and beetles, unweighted nymphs, and (near willows) willow grubs.


Takitakitoa Wetland Walking Tour

Join Fish & Game staff for a walking tour at Takitakitoa Wetland to mark World Wetlands Day. The event starts at 6pm on Friday, February 2.

Takitakitoa is one of the largest wetland restoration projects in the country. This is a chance to explore the flora and fauna which have recolonised the area, learn more about this wetland and do some planting. The wetland is at the end of Takitakitoa Rd, about 40 minutes’ drive south of Dunedin, on the lower Taieri. Click here for more details, including directions how to get there.


Phoenix Dam

Anglers are advised to stay away from Phoenix Dam. Credit: Steve Dixon.

The public are being advised by Clutha District Council to avoid Phoenix Dam, which is being dewatered due to safety concerns. Phoenix is a small dam near Lawrence and is not specifically listed in the Fish & Game regulation guide. CDC says the water is being siphoned to reduce the impact of risk of any potential failure of the dam. The dam edges are muddy and hazardous.


Greenstone Controlled Fishery

Bookings for the Greenstone Controlled Fishery beats open this week. 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 to fish the Upper Greenstone River. This 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 here for more information.


Taiari Wai River Festival

The Backyard Bass casting game was a hit with the kids at Patearoa last weekend. Credit: Bruce Quirey.

Kids showed some cool casting skills playing Backyard Bass with Otago Fish & Game at the Taiari Wai River Festival at Patearoa on Saturday.

This inaugural community event was staged by Tiaki Maniototo celebrating the local waterways and habitat with live music, food, native plants and some fun bioscience.


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:



Showers and a stiff south-westerly breeze are forecast for Dunedin this Saturday. Expect the showers and wind to clear in the afternoon providing some relief. Sunday morning is the pick of the forecast with clear conditions and light winds. Pack a raincoat as showers are forecast to develop later in the day.

The Taieri River at Outram is flowing at 3.3 cumecs, and the water temperature was 17.7 degrees.

Click here for live weather updates.



Another wet weekend for Wānaka with showers, some heavy, forecast for Saturday morning before easing slightly in the afternoon. Sunday is forecast for scattered showers clearing late in the day, but remaining cloudy and northerlies developing. Anglers should double-check the forecast and river conditions before attempting any river crossings. If in any doubt, do not cross.

Click here for live weather updates.



Alexandra has showers forecast on Saturday morning before clearing to fine in the afternoon. Westerlies should develop in the afternoon and evening. Sunday is the pick of the area’s forecast with partly cloudy conditions and light winds, providing excellent opportunities for anglers to target large stillwaters such as Poolburn and Upper Manorburn.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast

A damp Saturday is forecast for the Lower Clutha with showers, some heavy, becoming isolated with longer fine breaks in the afternoon. Fresh westerlies are forecast to develop from Saturday morning. Sunday morning is forecast to be clear skies with a slight westerly breeze before showers develop in the afternoon.

The Pomahaka River was flowing at 20.8 cumecs at the time of writing, and dropping from a peak of 38 cumecs on Wednesday night.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha is flowing at 827 cumecs and is significantly coloured from the Clyde Dam through to the mouth.

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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