Notable Waters: Clutha and Hunter Rivers
This region extends from the Shag River down to The Catlins and inland to the Mt Aspiring National Park. It offers some of the best trout and salmon angling experiences to be found in New Zealand.
The lower reaches of all rivers have good populations of sea run and resident brown trout. This includes the Taieri and Clutha rivers, which also have salmon spawning runs from January to April.
The Central Otago area is an angler’s paradise with easy public access to spectacular alpine streams and glacial lakes such as Lakes Hawea, Wanaka and Wakatipu. These lakes contain plentiful stocks of landlocked salmon, rainbow and brown trout, which provide visitors with a world class angling experience.
Numerous pristine high country rivers flowing into the lakes also hold brown and rainbow trout in pure, clear waters that make spotting relatively easy. The notable rivers are the Greenstone, Dart, Hunter, Matukituki and Makarora.
The Clutha River is an excellent fishery giving unrestricted access to countless spinning and fly-fishing reaches. Tributaries like the Pomahaka and Waipahi can give anglers a memorable backcountry experience. Lake Dunstan on the Clutha is an outstanding recreational lake offering good results from trolling, spinning, harling and fly-fishing.
The Hunter River at the head of Lake Hawea can be described as the pure essence of the Southern Alps with its abundant stocks of wild brown and rainbow trout and land-locked salmon. Here you can fish blind in the tumbling rapids in absolute isolation, and enjoy the surprise and excitement that follows a hook-up – is it a rainbow, brown or salmon? The experience is quite remarkable and therapeutic.
Dunedin city has several water reservoirs that are open all year round for fly-fishing and spinning. Otago Harbour has become a popular fishery in recent years as increasing numbers of salmon run between Christmas and Easter. It is a welcome bonanza for locals and visitors alike with fish over 8 kg. regularly taken.
Guided heli fly-fishing into unlimited remote high country fishing waters is available in Queenstown from several guiding companies and also in Glenorchy, Wanaka, Alexandra, Cromwell and Makarora. Float fishing in an inflatable boat on the Clutha River can be arranged in Balclutha.