Otago Weekly Fishing Report 9 November 2023

  • Otago
  • 9/11/2023

Otago Weekly Fishing Report 9 November 2023

Pictured above: Levi Stafford with a thumping 8lb brown trout caught at Poolburn reservoir. Photo: Hayden Stafford.

Thumping catch is a family affair

Poolburn is still producing some excellent early season fishing with the Stafford family one of many families experiencing momentous catches at the reservoir.

Levi Stafford recently landed this 8lb brown trout. It was a catch that involved the whole family.

Levi caught the monster on a worm that he and his younger sister Macey had found, foraging around the reservoir edges. Mum Megan was called on to net the fish while dad Hayden and a friend worked on hut repairs.

Hayden says he was working on their hut when his mate said they had one on. He says it jumped out of the water and looked to be about the 2lb mark, so they left them to it. It wasn’t until the fish was in the net that they realised it was a lot bigger.

The Stafford family caught another four well-conditioned fish over their trip.

Rainbows fishing well in lake tributaries

Team work makes the dream work for Wānaka anglers Sandy Brown and Hamish Bartlett. Photo: Mason Court.

Anglers are having some great early season fishing targeting rainbows in Southern Lakes tributaries. Large numbers of post-spawn rainbows can be encountered in these small tributaries before they drop back into the lake or larger rivers.

Fly anglers are reporting success running large stonefly, glow bug or squirmy worms patterns, as they offer a large source of protein that recovering trout often find too hard to resist. Spin anglers should use lighty weighted softbaits and spinners, focusing on the deep pools. Aggressive rainbows can appear out of nowhere to smash their lures.

Trolling around the mouth of small tributaries where they flow into the lake is also rewarding anglers with excellent-conditioned rainbows, says Mark from Southern Wild Wanaka. Mark recommends Tasmanian Devils and Tobys in the 7-14 gram range. Everyone seems to be catching fish on their favourite coloured lures, he says, but it’s hard to go past the tried and tested black-and-gold or the traffic-light colours.


Bright and heavy

If fishing discoloured water, don’t be afraid to increase your tippet strength, says Santillan from the newly opened Patagonia fly fishing store in Queenstown.

The fish are unlikely to see the larger diameter tippet due to the discoloured water. This allows you to apply more pressure landing the fish quickly and possibly avoid the unseen snags that seem to litter every river after last month’s flooding.

With a large amount of discoloured water around, getting the trout to see your flies is half the battle. Brightly coloured bead head nymphs have been doing the job for many anglers as that extra colour often catches the fish’s attention. Tim from Hunting & Fishing Central Otago also recommends anglers add a couple of flies heavy with ultra violet (UV) content into their box.

If seeking clear water leads you towards some of the smaller tributaries, please remember to be courteous to the landowner as lambing is still ongoing. Remember to use Fish & Game access points or talk to the landowner if wanting to cross private land.


Mahinerangi boat ramp extended

Anglers will be relieved to hear Manawa Energy has extended the boat ramp at the Edgar Stark bridge at Lake Mahinerangi, which is a popular fishery. The energy company is dropping the lake level this summer to perform maintenance on structures normally underwater, which left the end of the boat ramp short of the water’s edge. Three slabs have been installed and Manawa says a contractor will instal a fourth when the lake is low enough.

The Lake Mahinerangi Gold Cup, sponsored by Manawa, is on this Sunday, November 12, in association with the Taieri and Lawrence anglers clubs. Tickets are available at Dunedin Hunting & Fishing, Mosgiel Tavern, Paper Plus Mosgiel and Elios.


Lower Clutha Angler Survey


We’re on a mission to deepen our knowledge of angler activity on the lower Clutha, Pomahaka, and Waipahi rivers. Our goal? To estimate the total angling activity and the numbers of fish caught and kept, highlighting the immense value of these waterways.

Anglers from Otago and Southland will be part of this study, with a focus on those living closest to the rivers. Over the next 12 months, local licence holders might receive a phone call from surveyors on our behalf.

If you receive a call, your input is invaluable. Your fishing data will help us better recognise the worth of the Lower Clutha catchment. This project is made possible thanks to funding from Contact Energy, under the Lower Clutha Sportfish Management Plan.


Waipahi lives up to challenging reputation

The river was running high and dirty during Saturday’s 140th Waipahi Gold Medal competition. Photo: Bruce Quirey

Fishing conditions this weekend in the Waipahi, the Pomahaka and other tributaries of the lower Clutha catchment should be much improved compared with last weekend.

The Waipahi River is a challenging river to fish often at the best of times. Only seven trout were caught in last Saturday’s 140th Waipahi Gold Medal  ̶ one of the lowest catch rates in the event’s long history. The river rose during the day, and by afternoon anglers in lower sections were competing in thunderstorms, hail and rain. The river peaked at 26 cumecs on Saturday night.

Thanks to event organisers Otago Anglers Association for helping Otago Fish & Game collect otoliths (ear bones) to continue research into where brown trout spend their lives in the lower Clutha catchment. The ongoing research is already helping us to identify and manage important natal streams in this catchment.

Congratulations to Matt Pettersson, who earned back-to-back gold medals in the event.


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:



Pleasant fishing conditions are forecast for Dunedin this weekend with clear skies and light northerlies forecast from Friday to Saturday. Cloud and showers are forecast to develop on Sunday afternoon.

The Taieri River at Outram was flowing at 21.5 cumecs. This is above its median flow. Expect the river to still be carrying some extra colour with showers forecast for today (Thursday).

Click here for live weather updates.



Saturday is the pick of the forecast for Wānaka this weekend with clear skies and limited wind forecast throughout most of the day. Anglers taking their boats out on the Southern Lakes are urged to keep an eye on the northerlies developing in the afternoon. If heading out on Sunday morning, make sure to pack a raincoat as rain showers are forecast to develop from mid-morning.

Click here for live weather updates.



Saturday is forecast to provide excellent angling conditions, with clear skies, warm conditions and limited wind until the early afternoon. Take your sunblock and water bottle as the temperature pushes into the high 20s. Sunday morning is forecast to be similar before the rain and showers develop in the afternoon.

Click here for live weather updates.


Clutha Regional Forecast

Friday and Saturday are the pick of the forecast with warm, clear skies and limited wind. Westerlies are forecast to develop on Saturday afternoon before shifting to brisk north-westerlies on Sunday, bringing overcast conditions and the occasional shower.

The Pomahaka River flow was 18.6 cumecs at the time of writing this report, providing excellent river conditions for fishing.

The lower Clutha River at Balclutha was 666 cumecs.

Click here for live weather updates.


Environmental Data Portal

Visit the Otago Regional Council Environmental Data Portal for more alerts and notifications, latest lake and river levels, and the latest rainfall summary.

Getting started

Need 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.

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