Reel Life February 2022

Five fantastic fishing access points – Waiau River

This month, we want to highlight the awesome fishing opportunities on the Waiau River and share with you five top access spots.

From the outlet at Lake Te Anau down to the mouth near Tewaewae Lagoon, the Waiau River provides a variety of fishing options and is well suited to fly, spin and bait fishing.

Working our way upstream, here are five top access points:

1.)  The Waiau River Lagoon

Access the lagoon at the end of Papatotara Road. The Lagoon holds good numbers of trout, and they are best targeted with silver ticers, Toby lures and smelt-like soft baits.

At this time of year, there is a good chance of catching a Kahawai too.

2.)  Wairaki River Mouth

Access off the Clifden-Blackmount Road. Park at the Waiau Trust car park. 750m walk to the mouth of the Wairaki River.

Drifting a soft bait across and down the current is a deadly technique at this location.

3.)  Rakatu Wetlands

Access off Blackmount-Redcliff Road. Be prepared to do a bit of walking but also reap the rewards of some feisty rainbows. It’s also worth having a cast in the Rakatu wetlands themselves.  

Above Right: spin fishing on the Waiau river behind the Rakatu Wetlands. 

Catching perch soft bait Waiau Arm2

A Waiau Arm perch taken on a soft bait.

4.)  Waiau Arm

Access at Manapouri Township.

A handy spot for a quick fish.

Plenty of perch at certain times and always a brownie or two cruising around.  

5.)  Te Anau Lake Control

Access at the outlet of Lake Te Anau.

Drift diving results show that the highest trout densities are 1-2km downstream from the outlet.

Fish a soft bait deep for the best results.

Fly anglers should consider using small wet flies during the evening.

Take the fishing rod with you

Bike fishing upper waiau

The combination of cycling, walking the dog and fishing on the upper Waiau makes for an enjoyable day out.

Fish & Game research has revealed that one of the main reasons people decide to participate in trout fishing is that fishing is easily added to their holiday plans.

That’s the great thing about trout fishing, it can either be the primary focus of an outing, or it can be a nice addition to other activities.

Here are a few ideas on how you could add trout fishing to some other fun activities and get even more value out of your fishing licence. 

Cycling – combining cycling and trout fishing is a great way to get exercise, enjoy the scenery and catch some healthy food. The Lake2Lake Fiordland trail is a great Southland cycling option and provides great fishing access to the picturesque upper Waiau.  

Walking the dog – If you have a dog, you have to take it for a walk, so you might as well do it with a fishing rod in your hand. Southland’s braided rivers are great options for combining dog walking and fishing. In our braided rivers, your dog can have some freedom to run around, and they won’t disturb any stock.  

Tramping/hunting – If you are a tramper or large game hunter, your expeditions will take you into some pretty awesome places that will have crystal clear rivers with healthy trout populations. So why not take the fishing rod with you? Finishing up a day in the hills with a cast or two in the river next to camp is a great way to relax. Also, a fresh fish for dinner sure does beat dehydrated food! 

Camping – many families and family groups love to go camping over the holidays. Camping often involves all sorts of additional activities like kayaking, boating and trout fishing. Most camping spots around Southland are next to rivers, lakes, or estuaries, so make sure to pack the fishing rods. 

Jacob and Lucy prepare trout

Cooking up a trout on the edge of the river is great fun

Outdoor cooking – There’s something special about cooking up a fish you have caught yourself on an open fire whilst being immersed in the great outdoors. That’s probably why ‘catch n’ cook’ videos are popular on YouTube. So when you are out fishing this season, take your favourite seasonings/condiments and whip up some culinary creations next to your favourite fishing spot.

Make sure to check if there are any fire restrictions before lighting a fire for cooking.

 Tight lines

Cohen Stewart, Southland Fish & Game