Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 26 October 2023

  • Otago
  • 26/10/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 26 October 2023

Pictured above: Will Horsley with nice Central Otago brown trout taken on an unweighted pheasant tail. Credit: Angus Borrell.

High Country opening this Wednesday

With heavy snow and strong wind warning forecasts in place adverse weather is set to batter the region on Friday, so expect many of our rivers to be stirred up come Saturday morning. There is a silver lining with the weather from Saturday onwards looking clear and calm allowing rivers to clear before the High-Country opening on Wednesday.

Most Otago rivers in the Upper Clutha catchment open on November 1, a month later than the rest of the region. This is to allow rainbow trout in these areas to complete their spawning cycle. There may still be some spawning rainbows encountered when fishing these rivers early in the season and anglers are encouraged to limit handling and release these often poorly conditioned post spawn fish.

Designated Waters

James Harris with a lovely rainbow trout from the Wilkin River, one of the many rivers that open this Wednesday. Credit: Mason Court.

This 2023-24 season Fish & Game has introduced the Designated Waters Licence to replace the Backcountry Endorsement.

If you want to fish Designated Waters, you require a valid Designated Waters Licence in addition to your whole season Fishing Licence. There are nine Otago Designated Waters Fisheries. Seven of these Designated Waters Fisheries open on November 1.

  • The Upper Lochy River (upstream of Disputed creek)
  • Dingleburn (upstream of bridge on Dingleburn Station Access Road)
  • Hunter River
  • Young River
  • Wilkin River
  • Greenstone River (upstream of swing bridge at the Greenstone Station Road car park)
  • Caples River

Click for more details about Otago Designated Waters Fisheries.

Please show respect and consideration towards fellow anglers while sharing the river to ensure positive fishing experience for everyone. 

Lake edge lurkers

Nancy Tapper with a lovely conditioned rainbow trout caught flyfishing a stream mouth on Lake Wānaka. Credit: Mason Court.

With some of the rivers still being in high flow or carrying slight colour due to mid-week rain, the clear lake edges of the southern lake have been providing some excellent sight fishing opportunities. Stream mouths are a hotspot for cruising fish as they provide fresh cooler water and a steady source of food.

With both rainbow and brown trout stalking the edges, it pays to take your time slowly walking the edges as these fish can appear out of nowhere to within five metres undetected.

The key to having success on the lake edges and flats is ensure that your cast is well in front of the cruising fish so that it has time to sink and appear natural.

Dylan from Queenstown Hunting & Fishing recommends a small twitch of your soft bait or fly can often catch the fish’s attention if it appears they have not seen it. 

No lead line no issue

Mark from Southern Wild Wānaka reports anglers experiencing good catches on the Southern lakes, with anglers targeting fish around the five - seven metres depth range having the most success. Most of the trout are in excellent condition and in particular the rainbows have been putting up excellent fights says Mark.

If you do not have access to a downrigger, or lead line Mark recommends using bibbed lures such as the Halco poltergeist range. These lures dive to a depth of 6 metres allowing you to get down to the depth the fish are feeding.

Sea runner success

Louella Donaldson with a fat sea run brown caught swinging a smelt imitation pattern Photo: Angus Borrell

Sea running brown trout are still smashing small baitfish down at the Clutha River Mouth, reports Ryan from Hunting & Fishing Dunedin.

Anglers are having success both with the fly and spin rod, with soft baits proving to be the most effective, closely followed by swinging a small streamer pattern.

Matching the colour and size of the bait fish is very important when attempting to get a take. Ryan recommends trying out the 3-inch Berkley Gulp! Minnow in the Starry Night colour or the Savage gear cannibal shad Holo bait fish if heading down there over the weekend.

Across the border  ̶  Twizel Canals

There was a confirmed salmon escape at the Tekapo Canal over the long weekend, fish were mostly in the 2-3kg bracket. Central South Island Fish & Game Officer Nikki Dellaway was up there and said that if you were not catching something within 10 minutes you were doing something wrong. Anglers fishing with spinners were having the most success while those using bait were finding the fishing a little slower.

The size of the escape has not yet been confirmed. If heading up there over the next couple of weekends expect the fishing to have calmed down, however if putting in the hours there should still be plenty of escapees about.

Lake Wānaka live webcam

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

Here’s the weekend outlook:


Dunedin is forecast to have scattered showers and snow to low levels on Friday morning, with rough weather forcast to clear in the afternoon. Saturday is forecast to be mainly fine with southwesterlies clearing and remain fine with light winds through to Monday. The Taieri River at Outram was flowing at 11 cumecs. Below its median flow offering some excellent river conditions for fishing.

The water temperature was 15 degrees C.  Click here for live weather updates.


Friday’s wild weather is forecast to clear mid-morning as westerlies develop. There is a road snowfall warning for Friday morning so do take care on the roads. Saturday and Sunday are forecast to be stunning spring days with limited to no wind, perfect for taking the boat out on the lakes or heading down to the river. Northerlies are forecast to develop Sunday evening.

Click here for live weather updates.


Showers and Southwesterlies, are forecast to ease Friday evening. Overcast conditions are forecast to clear Saturday morning and remain fine through to Monday. This period of warm, dry conditions should allow for central rivers to clear as well as providing excellent condition on the large reservoirs and lakes.

Click here for live weather updates.

Clutha Regional

Scattered rain is forecast to develop on Friday morning before clearing Saturday morning. There is a heavy snow watch in place until 11am Friday so take care. Fresh southwesterlies develop Saturday morning before easing in the evening. Sunday is forecast to be a stunning clear day with no wind.

The Pomahaka River flow was 10 cumecs at the time of writing this report expect it to rise slightly with the rain of Friday.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha was 719 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.

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