Reel Life January 2022

Otago fisheries looking great for holidays

This holiday season looks like it could be a cracker. Here’s hoping!

Summer temperatures are highly likely to be above average, NIWA is forecasting.

Otago is privileged to have world-class freshwater fishing.

After early summer rain, lake, river and reservoir conditions are looking stable, promising good angling opportunities and fish in top condition.

Inland reservoirs are popular holiday spots and easy places to teach the kids to fish.

Many are stocked with hatchery-reared rainbows that are often easy and fun to catch.

This season one- and two-year-old rainbows are being liberated into reservoirs that have no natural trout spawning. They include Tomahawk Lagoon, Southern Reservoir, Sullivans Dam, Pinders Pond, Lower Manorburn Dam, Moke Lake, Coalpit Dam, McAtamneys Head Pond, Hamiltons Dam, Mathias Dam, Butchers Dam, Rutherfords Dam, Blakelys Dam, Perkins Pond and Nenthorn Pond.

Teach your children how to spin fish, give soft baits a go, or cast a float and worms.

If you plan to keep fish, take a chilly bin with ice.

In terms of Covid, there is a lot of information that the best place to be is outdoors.

So, grab your rod and get out there, enjoy nature, relax and catch up with friends and family.

Summer ranging

Above Right: Anglers may be checked anywhere and anytime. BRUCE QUIREY, OTAGO FISH & GAME 

Otago Fish & Game rangers are ranging across the region this season.

Anglers may be checked anywhere and anytime.

The region has 11 warranted voluntary rangers and seven warranted staff rangers.

Last season our rangers checked more than 1000 fishing licence holders.

That’s over 10 per cent of all whole season adult and family licence holders in the region.

We’re pleased to say most anglers were highly compliant with regulations.

The 2020-21 compliance rate was 97.5 per cent.

Fish & Game staff and voluntary rangers will be busy over the summer holidays interviewing anglers, checking licences and recording catch details.

Always carry your licence when fishing. Details on cell phones are acceptable, but other forms of identification will be required.

If you meet a ranger on the water this season, they will be happy to answer questions to help your fishing success.

Be cooperative as they go about their legal duties to protect and enhance our sports fishery. If an offence is committed, rangers are obliged to issue an offence notice and seize fishing gear. 

Family licences

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Take the kids out fishing with a family whole season licence this year. PHOTO: JAKUB KANOK

We love seeing families out doing things together, and that’s why we offer family fishing licences.

But we often get asked about the rules for these licences.

The licence allows one person (the primary licenceholder), or one person and that person's spouse or partner (the secondary licenceholder) and their children or grandchildren (who are under 18 years of age on October 1) to fish together.

The secondary licenceholder may take the children named on the licence fishing (and fish themselves with the children) without the primary holder taking part.

But only the primary licenceholder may use this licence to fish on their own.

If family participants, including the secondary licenceholder, want to fish independently, they will need a separate licence.

A family licence includes a couple and up to four children or grandchildren under the age of 18 on 1 October (the first day of that respective fishing season). 

It is valid from 1 October to 30 September and is available for New Zealand resident anglers only. 

Salmon time!

211207 Otago Reel Life salmon

Landlocked salmon caught in Lake Wakatipu have been in good condition this year. PHOTO: BEN SOWRY, OTAGO FISH & GAME

October to Christmas is the time of year for targeting landlocked salmon in our lakes.

Those with boats will have success trolling Wakatipu near Glenorchy or around the Neck in Lake Hāwea. 

Shore-based anglers don’t have to miss out either. Plenty of salmon are caught off the rocks in the neck, or near the dam in Lake Hāwea, or near the Clyde Dam in Lake Dunstan.

Salmon are suckers for anything bright, sparkly or pink, so choose spinners and softbaits with a bit of bling to them.

Beetle mania

211207 Brown bettle

Trout feed on brown beetles in spring and early summer.

Brown beetles have been fishing well around the region.

These big brown bugs are abundant during evenings and early mornings, and trout are gorging themselves on this seasonal feast.

They’re common in high-country lakes (Manorburn, Onslow and Poolburn) and areas like Dean’s Bank and the upper Taieri.

They’ll even show up at your house!

These will be replaced in December by the green mānuka beetle.

These can be found in large numbers in areas of native scrub.

Beetle imitations such as coch-y-bondhu can be fished with a fly rod or with a plastic bubble.

In bait fishing areas, a real beetle can even be super-glued to a size 14 fly hook and again fished with a plastic bubble. 

Reel and wheels

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Bike fishing … Fish further with pedal power these holidays. PHOTO: JAKUB KANOK

Otago’s many cycle trails can open a world of fishing opportunities these holidays.

There are lots of reasons why cycling and fishing are a great fit. Whether on a multiday tour or a short ride, fishing adds a fresh element to exploring new destinations. Bike fishing can get you to places that are hard for other anglers to access.

Take a break, cool off and soak up your surroundings along the journey. Trout live in beautiful places.

Keep your fishing gear to a minimum. Attach the rod to the bike or carry it in a tube or pack.

Here are six trails worth fishing:

The Outlet Track

This popular track links the Lake Wanaka Outlet and Albert Town. The top end starts at Outlet Road and follows the Clutha River Mata-Au. The sign-posted Deans Bank section is fly fishing only. Elsewhere, spin fishing is permitted. The upper Clutha holds healthy stocks of rainbow and brown trout.

Hawea River Track

This 14km track links Hawea and Albert Town. The Hawea River is controlled by a dam and fishes well when flows are moderate to low. The lower end starts at Albert Town campground. Above the swing bridge, the track winds away before rejoining the river. Access at the Hawea end is via Domain Road.

Central Otago Rail Trail

Several parts of the 152km trail from Clyde to Middlemarch offer fishing spots on rivers and dams. The Manuherekia River can be accessed near Alexandra, Chatto Creek, Omakau and Lauder. A short detour leads to Lower Manor Burn Dam. The trail also passes the Idaburn Dam. An overnight detour to Naseby offers fishing at Coal Pit and Hoffman’s dams. Below Waipiata, the trail crosses the Taieri River. Daisybank is a good spot on the Kokonga to Hyde stretch in the Upper Taieri Gorge. Between Hyde and Middlemarch, side roads from State Highway 87 lead to the river.

Upper Clutha River Track

This track follows the riverbank between Albert Town and Luggate. The track crosses the Cardrona River below Albert Town. There are entrance points at Albert Town, Cardrona River, Stevensons Road, Reko’s Point, Shortcut Road and Luggate.

Lake Dunstan Trail

The Lake Dunstan Trail between Clyde and Cromwell journeys for 55km along the lake edge. The top of the trail is from Smiths Way to Cromwell. It follows the Kawarau arm to the Bannockburn bridge and then along the true left of Lake Dunstan. The recently opened trail between Cromwell and Clyde has opened fishing opportunities on the south bank of the lake. Concentrate on stream mouths and along weed beds.

Clutha Gold Trail

This trail follows the Clutha River Mata-Au between Roxburgh and Lawrence. The journey from Roxburgh Dam to Beaumont never strays far from the Clutha, but willows can make access tricky. Look for side channels, gravel bars and backwaters. Pinders Pond near Roxburgh is stocked with rainbow trout. The trail parts ways with the Clutha at Beaumont.

Holiday water safety

Whether boating, fishing from the shore or having fun with the kids on the water, make smart decisions over the holiday period. 

We want everyone to return home safely.

From the Otago Fish & Game team, thank you for your support this year, and we wish you a wonderful Christmas and New Year.