Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 5 October 2023

  • Otago
  • 6/10/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 5 October 2023

Pictured above: Tim Johnson battled the gusting southerly on Sunday, enticing this chunky brown trout at Poolburn Reservoir. Credit: Tim Johnson.

Mixed bag for rivers and weather

Dry conditions this week have allowed for some of region’s rivers to return to lower flows and a more fishable state. With limited rain forecast this weekend, the main visibility issues for some of the larger rivers will be caused by snowmelt.

Rainbow trout are still completing their spawning run in the lake tributaries, while many brown trout have already put on good condition after winter spawning and will only improve with time, making excellent table fare.

Putting some time and effort into scouting and checking the waters you intend to fish over the weekend will help you get the best out of the variable conditions.

Brighten up the murk

The upper Taieri River at Hyde taken on Wednesday evening. The flow levels have dropped, however, the river is still carrying colour. Credit: Ian Hadland.

Reports from around the region indicate many rivers are still running high and dirty. Fish & Game officer Ben Sowry says many of the open fishing waters at the top of Lake Wakatipu are currently in an unfishable state. These include Diamond Creek, Diamond Lake, Reid Lake as well as the lower Dart and Rees rivers.  

The outlook is slightly better in the lower catchments. The upper Taieri and Manuherikia rivers are still carrying some colour but have dropped to a fishable state if anglers are willing to adapt. One method to combat these conditions is the use of bright-coloured lures and flies. Drifting bright yellow or chartreuse soft baits paired with a light jig head though these deep dark pools can often entice a bite.

Tim Johnson from Central Otago Hunting & Fishing warns anglers fishing the top of lakes that there is still plenty of debris around. Tim says the strong flows and winds have moved some of the weed beds and urges anglers to take care.

Small stream success

Leon Healey (left) and Samuel Norman at Waitahuna River on opening day. Credit: Bruce Quirey.

Early season is a great time to explore South Otago’s smaller streams and rivers while there are good flows and less weed growth.

Samuel Norman (right) caught this brown trout on a soft bait lure while out fishing with Leon Healey on Waitahuna River on opening day. Samuel was using was a bronze T Tail minnow with a 1/12 oz jig head.

“I cast into this little backwater and reeled it through the main hole I was fishing. The fish came out from the dark and smashed my soft bait.” 

Poolburn providing

Graeme Sainsbury from Alexandra with a lovely-conditioned brown trout that was unable to resist a worm. Credit: David Priest.

Rangers conducting licence checks at Poolburn Reservoir on Sunday reported that anglers brave enough to battle the elements were catching lovely well-conditioned fish. Worm fishing was the most popular and successful method on the day as trolling, spinning and fly fishing was somewhat limited by the gusting southerly winds.

Tim Johnson from Central Otago Hunting & Fishing was one of those brave souls battling the wind. Tim found even though the wind was unrelenting, if you focused your time in the sheltered and likely spots, it was still possible to pick up cruising fish. The lure of choice for spin and trolling anglers was the humble traffic-light-coloured Tasmanian Devil in 13.5 grams.

Fish smarter, not harder

Ryan from Hunting & Fishing Dunedin says local angler are having success with small nymphs and soft baits up at the Southern and Sullivan reservoirs.  

If not fluent with a fly rod, anglers can try using a small bubble float to present the small nymph in a natural manner. Ryan recommends pheasant tail or hare and copper flies in the size 14 and 16 with 30cm-60cm of leader from the float to the fly. If casting soft baits, ensure that the jig head weight is suitably weighted to reach the bottom but not too quickly. You want to maximise how long it takes to sink, as this is often when trout will strike.  


42nd Annual Glenorchy Fishing Competition - 7th October 2023

The annual Glenorchy Fishing Competition returns this weekend.

Anglers interested in taking part in this long-running event should click here.



Whoops, we slipped up.

Deans Bank, which is a fly-fishing-only section of the Upper Clutha River, opened last Sunday, October 1. Last week’s Weekly Fishing Report incorrectly said Deans Bank was not open until November 1.

We don’t get everything right but thank you to readers for pointing this out, especially the one who wrote back: “On second thoughts do nothing and then I might be the only one there!”

Deans Bank is a well-signposted section downstream of the Lake Wānaka outlet and upstream of Albert Town. Apologies for the error, and good luck fishing.


Lake Wānaka live webcam

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


Here’s the weekend outlook:



Pleasant fishing conditions are forecast for Dunedin this weekend, with light showers forecast to ease on Saturday morning. Don’t forget to wrap up warm as fresh southwesterlies are forecast to develop on Saturday evening through to Sunday night. If local rivers are unsuitable, it would be a good opportunity to target stillwaters or the confluence of tributaries.

The Taieri River at Outram at the time of writing this report 29.9 cumecs, over double its median flow.

Click here for live weather updates.



Rain is forecast to clear on Saturday afternoon. Sunday is looking to be the pick of the days to get out fishing around Wānaka, with light variable winds and clear skies forecast for the morning. Expect some of the surrounding rivers to have risen due to rain forecast on Friday and Saturday morning.  

Click here for live weather updates.



Heavy rain and brisk southerlies are forecast to roll in Friday night around Alexandra, easing on Saturday evening.  Sunday is forecast to be the pick of the days, with light westerlies and some cloudy periods forecast.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast


Make sure to pack warm clothes and a raincoat if planning to head out fishing around the lower Clutha this weekend. Rain is forecast to develop on Friday night and fall throughout the weekend. Saturday is forecast to have occasional rain, falling as snow to 600 metres, before clearing later in the evening. Sunday is forecast to have stiff westerlies and rain throughout the day.

At the time of writing, the Pomahaka River flow was 37.7 cumecs. The lower Clutha River at Balclutha was 867 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.


Tight lines, 

Otago Fish & Game

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