Otago weekly fishing report - 29 February 2024

  • Otago
  • 29/02/2024

Otago weekly fishing report - 29 February 2024

Beech forest beasts

Some stunning fish are being caught in the beech-lined rivers of Otago’s backcountry. Rumours are floating around about a beech mast, and the excellent condition these fish are carrying certainly indicates that they may have been exposed to an extra protein source.

If chasing these fish, don’t be afraid to use a large streamer when traditional dries or nymphs do not work. These fish may refuse the small prey items if they’re tuned into larger offerings of protein, such as mice.

Targeting these large predatory fish when they are actively feeding early morning or evening can improve the chances of success.

Pictured above: Paul van Klink with an 8lb brown trout from one of the beech forest-lined rivers at the top of Lake Wānaka. Credit: Jakub Kanok.


Mixed fortunes on the lakes

Mixed news has come from anglers fishing Otago’s larger lakes with some great catches being reported while others have struggled.

Anglers reporting the most success tended to be focused around Stevensons Arm on Lake Wānaka or The Neck and the Hunter River delta on Lake Hāwea.

Red and black is the colour for trolling in autumn, says Mark from Southern Wild Wānaka. Whether it is a Tasmanian Devil, a Toby or another spinner, there is something about the colour red which seems to inspire fish to strike at the start of the cooler months.

The top of Lake Dunstan is still producing fish on damsel nymphs and small dries, says Tim from Central Otago Hunting and Fishing.

Tim has had success there but found he had to land his fly within 60cm of cruising trout to get their attention and induce a take.



Jayde Couper with a brown trout that took a Kyle's Deletidium nymph on the Pomahaka River last week. Credit: Bruce Quirey.

The Pomahaka River has been holding some extraordinarily large fish lately.

One angler is still waiting for his heart rate to return to normal after losing the largest brown trout he’s hooked in 30 years.

On one clear and sunny day, a big fish was spotted in a pool or run every few hundred metres. This time of year, sea-run browns can be expected to move up the Pomakaha.

Please note the Pomahaka River upstream of Hukarere Station Bridge is a Designated Waters fishery. An Otago Designated Waters licence is required in this section of river, which is fly and spin only.


Snap’n’Share photo competition

Take any epic fishing snaps over the summer break?

Share them in our Snap’n’Share photo comp and you could win a share of $2,000 in prizes!

Enter your images in our monthly fishing licence photo competition, and go in the draw to win a $250 Kilwell voucher.
Plus if you are the monthly winner, have a one in four chance of winning the overall competition and winning an additional $1000 Kilwell voucher.

Follow the link to enter. Please read the full terms and conditions and make sure your photo complies with the competition rules.

Steve Higgins, from Sydney Fly Rodders, landed this brown on a cicada imitation at Logan Burn Dam in Otago. Credit: Ian Hadland.

You can also enter our Wild Kai Photo Competition. Click the link to learn more and be ready to enter your Wild Kai photos in the draw.


Logan Burn Dam

Trout were rising to cicadas at Logan Burn Dam from midday to mid-afternoon last Friday. Credit: Ian Hadland.

Inland weather is looking warm again tomorrow and Saturday and might be some of the last opportunities for cicada fishing.

Steve Higgins and Denis Hill, from Sydney Fly Rodders, fished at Logan Burn Dam last Friday.

Trout started rising to cicadas about midday and the Aussies caught three fish between them.

An inspection of fish stomach contents showed the trout had been feeding earlier on water boatmen and midges.

By mid-afternoon the bite had slowed down as the trout had probably had their fill of cicadas!


Game, set and match

Stu Maxwell’s Deuce cicada pattern. Photo: Bruce Quirey.

This cicada season, Dunedin artist and angler Stuart Maxwell has caught 48 trout on a dry fly he ties using tennis ball fluff. He calls it the Deuce (above). That’s one of his paintings in the picture, too.

Stu says UV properties of the tennis ball fluff help attract the trout. The fluff is highly buoyant and the fly lasts all day. He also uses a foam strip, rubber legs, brown dubbing for the tail and thorax, and sparkle strands above the wing. He ties onto size #12 long-shank and #B10 hooks.


Greenstone Controlled Fishery

The controlled fishery period on the Greenstone River still has one more month to run, finishing on March 31.

Anglers have been reporting good numbers of rainbows throughout the river with the odd larger brown providing that extra challenge.

When the weather has permitted, cicadas and large stimulator patterns have provided exciting and explosive dry-fly fishing. Heavy stonefly patterns are working on the more stubborn fish that refuse to rise.

For more information on the Greenstone controlled fishery period or to book a beat, click here.


Across the Border: On the Fly Mataura River Festival

It was great to see people connecting with the river and with fishing at the On the Fly Mataura River Festival in Gore on Sunday. Otago Fish & Game supported Southland Fish & Game at the event.

For those wondering how many rainbow trout were in the tank at the Fish & Game stand, the answer was 73. The sole winner with the correct guess was Roger Gibbe, of Dunedin. Kids also had fun on the Backyard Bass casting session. For anyone keen to give fishing a try but are unsure where to start, contact the Otago Fish & Game or Southland Fish & Game offices for advice.


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 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:



Heading out Friday afternoon or Saturday morning are an angler’s best bets this weekend as showers are forecast to develop from late afternoon Saturday with strong northerlies developing mid-morning. Showers are forecast to clear Sunday evening with the fresh south-westerlies, turning north-easterly.

The Taieri River at Outram was flowing at 2.1 cumecs, and the water temperature was 17.2°C.

Click here for live weather updates.



Mixed forecast for Wānaka this weekend with cloud cover and rain developing on Saturday limiting sight-fishing opportunities. Northerlies are forecast to develop in the afternoon as well. Early rain and cloud cover is forecast to clear Sunday morning as the wind shifts to the west. This should offer an excellent opportunity to fish recently refreshed rivers.

Click here for live weather updates.



Saturday in Alexandra looks to be the most favourable fishing day with forecast light winds and clear skies. Northerlies and the chance of a shower are forecast to develop late in the evening, so get up early and make the most of the calm weather. Showers are forecast for most of Sunday before clearing late in the evening with westerlies winds developing.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast

Clear weather is forecast for Saturday morning before becoming cloudy in the evening with a few showers. North-westerlies are expected to develop for a time in the afternoon and evening. Showers, some heavy, are forecast for Sunday with fresh westerlies, turning lighter northerly in the evening.

The Pomahaka River was flowing at 3.6 cumecs at the time of writing, but expect it to rise after the rain.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha is flowing at 438 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.


Tight lines, 

Otago Fish & Game

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