Waituna Lagoon has a rich cultural and ecological history. It plays a significant role in Southland's biodiversity and its environmental importance led to its designation as a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance in 1976.

The lagoon has approx. 1350ha of open water, making it larger than both Mavora Lakes combined. It is a 30-minute drive from Invercargill. It’s a huge and productive fishery at our back door.

The health of the lagoon relies on a native plant species, Ruppia, that lives submerged in the lake. It filters and oxygenates the water, holds the lagoon bed together and dampens wave action. It is a cornerstone species.

Ruppia tolerates some salt water, however it does not grow in the sea. Opening the lagoon and increasing the long-term salinity of the lagoon would have devasting effects on the ruppia and subsequently, the ecological health of the lagoon. That would then have flow on effects to the cultural, social and recreational values of the lagoon. Fish & Game has been a strong advocate for the lagoon to remain closed to the sea.

Waituna trout are on average, the heaviest of all Southlands waterbodies.  The average fish is ~2.3kg (5lb) and there are some notably larger than that.

When fishing, look for specific features and conditions that enable you to break the lagoon down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Target tributaries and structure. The structure could be plants or tree stumps, maimai (or remnant old piles), ledges, drop offs or the edge of macrophyte beds or vegetation. It doesn’t have to be much. These areas provide trout with food, security and cover.

Use the wind. Fish downwind of sources of wind-blown food (ie. insects) as trout will likely be circling and making the most of these continual offerings. The wavelap can also create productive shore-based fishing where the waves crash into the bank. These waves not only move feed across the lagoon, they stir up the bed and suspend invertebrates in the water.

Use lightweight gear.  The traditional approach of long rods, thick monofilament and heavy wedges, might still work but they are not nearly as effective as the modern, lightweight options. Soft-baiting is ideal here. They allow you to quickly change your set up depending on the depth of the water – some of it will be under a metre, while other areas could be several metres deep.

Braid allows an angler to remain in contact with their offering and detect even the smallest of touches – some takes will be fast and violent, whereas others will be the slightest of intakes. Don’t allow any slack in your line. Always remain in contact with it.

Have a range of jig-head weights and soft-bait colours. This will allow you to fish different depths and conditions. In some areas you will bounce your soft-bait along the bottom and in other places, you will be fishing above the ruppia.

Move and be mobile. If an area is not producing, then relocate.  The trout seem to move around the lagoon depending on the conditions, so you should be prepared to move as well.

Small vessels can be launch at the end of Moffat Road and Waituna Lagoon Road. These boat ramps are suited to smaller vessels and the use of 4wd vehicles for launching.

Accesses to Waituna Lagoon can be found here