Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 9 March 2023

  • Otago
  • 9/03/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report - 9 March 2023

Changing seasons

Cooler overnight lows and shorter days are bringing on the mayfly hatches, while rain showers through the week provided a welcome refresh for many low rivers. Forecast rain over the weekend will provide opportunities at river mouths as trout and salmon prepare for their spawning runs. Don’t forget the Lower Clutha/Bluelight Fishing Competition is being held this Sunday.

Right: Bevan Campbell (front) and Johnathan Tilley swing softbaits near Outram in the Taieri River. Credit: Bruce Quirey.


March mayflies

With cooler temperatures and rain starting to become a more common occurrence in our weather forecast it signals the increased emergence of mayflies.

Santillan, from Queenstown Hunting & Fishing, recommends increasing your leader length and dropping down to size 16-18 flies in order to be successful on these mayfly-feeding trout. Popular mayfly patterns include Parachute Adams and Dad’s Favourites while Pheasant tail and Flashback nymphs can be used to imitate the hatching nymphs. Calm mornings and warm afternoons are your best bet to produce successful fishing, says Santillan.

Tasty trout snack, an adult mayfly sitting on the water surface. Credit: Ben Sowry.


Pomahaka fishing well

Fish & Game officer Bruce Quirey reported good fishing on the middle reaches of the Pomahaka River over the weekend, with the river still low and wadeable in many sections having missed much of the recent rainfall nearer the coast.

Good fish numbers were encountered over the weekend with browns eagerly rising for size 14 and 16 Parachute Adams flies. They ranged in size from 1.5kg to just wee ones of about 250g. These fish also proved easily susceptible to softbaits, taking slowly retrieved Savage Cannibal Shad on a size 1/16 ounce jighead. 

A size 14 Parachute Adams fly was the undoing of this 1.5kg brown trout on the Pomahaka. Credit: Bruce Quirey.A size 14 Parachute Adams fly was the undoing of this 1.5kg brown trout on the Pomahaka. Credit: Bruce Quirey.


River mouth rainbows

With the increase rainfall received over the last of weeks large numbers of trout and salmon are congregating at river mouths enjoying the cooler more oxygenated water.

Brad, from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago, reports that some rainbow trout caught within the last week have started developing eggs. Many of these river mouth rainbows are under conditioned and make poor eating. It is recommended to limit handling of these fish if you intend to release them.

The Lowburn Inlet has been a hotspot for some large perch recently, Brad says. He recommends targeting these using a range of softbaits (Brad’s favourites are the Berkley T-tails and Grubs).

Softbaits come into their own when exploring deep, slower sections of rivers or lakes. When searching for fish, look for structure such as rocks and logs, drop-offs, undercut banks, and the edges of current seams.


Lower Taieri trout on the bite

Brown trout were on the bite on the lower Taieri River near Outram this week, Bevan Campbell, of Mosgiel, says.

Bevan was fishing with softbaits on Tuesday with Johnathan Tilley, of Christchurch, when a Fish & Game ranger met them on the river.

They were using 1/16th ounce jigheads with the river being very low, about 4 cumecs. Bevan reeled in four brown trout to the bank. “Olive pearl softbaits were the only colour ya need in there,” he says. If not successful with softbaits, Ryan, from Hunting & Fishing Dunedin, recommends trying out the 7-gram Crusader spinner in the black and gold color, as he believes the gold flash can often entice a bite in dirty water.

A healthy brown trout caught this week on an olive-pearl softbait on the lower Taieri. Credit: Bevan Campbell.


Lake levels

Changing lake levels are providing increased angling opportunity as more habitat becomes accessible to both anglers and trout.

Nick, from Southern Wild in Wānaka, recommends targeting lake-edge cruisers on Lake Hāwea as the lake has recently dropped over half a metre, opening an area of shore not usually accessible to shore-based anglers.  

While Lake Hāwea’s water level has dropped, Lake Dunstan’s water level is up with Fish & Game officer Ben Sowry seeing large numbers of feeding brown trout cruising the freshly flooded zones up the top of the lake. You can check lake levels for Hāwea and Dunstan using the links below.

Jordan Mace with a Lake Dunstan salmon which fell victim to a Zman watermelon red 3inch slimswimZ softbait. Credit: Jordan Mace.

Lower Clutha Trout Fishing Competition this Sunday

Don’t miss the Lower Clutha Trout Fishing Competition this Sunday, March 12, supporting trout research and the Clutha community. The event, run by Otago Fish & Game, is linking up with the children's Bluelight Fishing Competition, backed by Balclutha police and the local community. Same day. Same weigh-in.

Up to $3000 worth of fishing prizes for adults are up for grabs. Bluelight children’s prizes are also on offer as usual. Fish & Game will collect trout heads at the weigh-in for research.

  • Where: The Clutha River, from below Roxburgh Dam to the sea, and the lower Pomahaka River
  • When: Sunday, March 12, from 8.30am to 2.30pm.
  • Weigh-in: Balclutha Association Football Club, Glasgow Street, Balclutha, 2.30pm-3.30pm
  • Prizegiving: 4pm.
  • How to enter: Online at the Otago Fish & Game Facebook page,  www.surveymonkey.com/r/SZBSL5W, or pick up an entry form from Balclutha Police Station or Stirling Sports Balclutha.

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. 

Here’s the weekend outlook:



With rain forecast for most of the weekend expect rivers to rise and be dirty around Dunedin, light winds and warm weather make Saturday the pick of the days. Don’t be afraid to explore Dunedin’s lakes and reservoirs if the rivers are unfishable with plenty of fishing to be had within 30 minutes’ drive from Dunedin city. At the time of writing this report the Taieri River at Outram was flowing at just over 4 cumecs’. The water temperature was 17 degrees.

Click here for live weather updates.



With northwesterlies and heavy rain developing on Sunday, Saturday looks to be the day to get out for a fish around Wānaka. Light wind and overcast skies on Saturday make for ideal fishing conditions with trout eagerly feeding after the rain. Remember to take your time when spotting trout as overcast weather, while helping disguise your leader, may also hamper your ability to spot trout.

Click here for live weather updates.



With cool mornings and warm afternoons forecast for Alexandra, it is recommended to get out there on Saturday and target rivers that will be dropping after the recent rain. Take advantage of the light winds on Friday and Saturday before the northwesterlies develop on Sunday bringing more rain.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast

Those fishing the Lower Clutha fishing competition are recommend to pack a raincoat for Sunday with showers forecast to develop throughout the day.  Expect the rivers to be up, however, the temperature and light winds will provide ample opportunities for those not afraid to get a little wet. At the time of writing this report, the Pomahaka River flow was still below minimum flow at 3.14 cumecs while the lower Clutha River at Balclutha was up at 568 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.


Tight lines, 

Otago Fish & Game


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