Otago weekly fishing report - 7 March 2024

  • Otago
  • 7/03/2024

Otago weekly fishing report - 7 March 2024

Something fishy about weekend weather

Finally, a calm and clear weekend is forecast for most of Otago. Although temperatures are dropping and there has been a dusting of snow on the hills, don’t pack the fishing gear away yet. There are still plenty of angling opportunities to be had around Otago’s waterways.

Surprising as it may seem, cicadas are still chirping around high-country lakes and reservoirs after the mid-week snow although numbers are down. Mayfly and caddis hatches offer exciting fishing in the early morning or late afternoon.

Pictured above: Riley Anderson with a stunning rainbow trout caught on a Tasmanian devil up the top of Lake Wānaka. Credit: Stacey Anderson.

The large lakes are producing some excellent fish. Effectively using your sounder and targeting the correct depth will ensure you have the most chance of success.


Cannibals at Butchers

Tim Johnson with a large redfin perch caught using a soft bait up at Butchers Dam. Credit: Tim Johnson.

It’s a fish-eat-fish world out there – even for the same species. During a recent fishing trip to Butchers Dam near Alexandra, Tim from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago hooked a small perch which was then engulfed by a much larger specimen. Tim says somehow the soft bait pulled free from the smaller perch and stuck into the large fish, allowing him to land it.

Tim and his friend caught more than 30 perch, of which the largest weighed about 3.5 pounds. Tim was using a Zman Slim Swimz soft bait in the “baby bass” colour, but any spinner, streamer and soft bait that imitated the size and colour of a juvenile perch was likely to work. No matter what you tie on, good presentation is very important.

Bait fishing using a worm under a float, especially near weed beds, is another good method and perfect for young children starting out. Take care when handling perch as they have sharp spines, including one on each gill cover.

Tim also saw some large rainbow trout cruising the water’s edge but couldn’t entice a bite.


Finding the flow

Dunstan Creek at Beattie Rd at low flows on Sunday. Credit: Bruce Quirey.

With river flows fluctuating heavily over the past couple of weeks, finding a suitable river hasn’t been the easiest. After a long journey, it’s disappointing to find the river you intend to fish is too low or too warm.

To avoid this the ORC environmental data portal is the tool anglers should turn to. The portal displays river flows across Otago, as well as indicators if the river is above or below median flow.  

Another benefit is the ability to track rainfall received within the past 24 hours so anglers can predict which rivers are likely to rise.


Brightening up the Taieri

One young angler’s new favourite soft bait for the lower Taieri River. Credit: Ryan Dunbar.

Good numbers of perch and brown trout are being caught in the lower Taieri River, says Ryan from Hunting and Fishing Dunedin.

Bright lures in chartreuse or pink in the discoloured water have been working well while the faithful black-and-gold provides a proven alternative.

One young angler had success targeting perch and browns using the Berkley Gulp! 3-inch minnow in the “rainbow trout” colour. Casting under the banks or near structure often resulted in perch. Trout were holding in the deeper, cooler pools as the day warmed up.

For access locations and other options for a half-day fishing to the south of Dunedin click here.


Onslow update

The low level of Lake Onslow is a concern. Boat launching has become difficult as the concrete ramp is above the waterline. Many parts of the shoreline are shallow, muddy and potentially dangerous.

Water clarity is low. Last weekend Fish & Game rangers spoke to anglers at Onslow who weren’t having much success or the fish they caught were too small.

The frequency and volume of draw-down of Onslow lake levels is very permissive and a variation to the dam consent in recent years has removed a restriction that helped hold lake levels up. Fish & Game submitted to a hearing to try and stop the variation but was unsuccessful. It’s likely that part of the low lake levels we are seeing will be due to this consent variation.


Predator control operation

The Department of Conservation advises 1080 toxic bait will be dropped by helicopter in the Dart, Routeburn and Caples Valleys on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, to control rats and stoats.

DOC advises do not touch or eat the bait, and do not eat animals within the operational areas or buffer zone. For more information, click the DOC link here or contact the DOC Whakatipu Visitor’s Centre on (03) 442 7935. 


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:



An excellent weather window for Dunedin this weekend with clear skies forecast from Friday to Sunday. Fresh south-westerlies ensure the air temperature doesn’t climb above 20 degrees C on Saturday. Brisk westerlies winds are forecast to develop on Sunday.

The Taieri River at Outram was flowing at 1.9 cumecs, and the water temperature was 15 degrees C.

Click here for live weather updates.



Excellent angling conditions are forecast around Wānaka this weekend. Clear skies and light winds are forecast on Friday to Sunday, with the only blemish being stiff northerlies developing on Sunday. Rivers should be in prime condition after receiving rain on Thursday. If heading out on the lakes, always double-check the forecast before you go as conditions can change.

Click here for live weather updates.



Pack your hat and sunblock when heading out fishing around Alexandra this week. Warm, clear and dry weather conditions are forecast on Friday to Sunday. A northerly breeze is forecast to develop throughout Sunday. This weather offers the perfect opportunity to head to the large reservoirs and dam with the family.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast

The Lower Clutha unfortunately gets the short end of the stick this weekend, with showers and south-westerlies forecast for Saturday morning before clearing in the afternoon. Sunday morning is forecast to be clear, however, isolated showers and strong north-westerlies are forecast to develop from mid-morning.

The Pomahaka River was flowing at 16 cumecs at the time of writing, dropping from a high of 22 cumecs on Wednesday night.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha is flowing at 380 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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