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Lake Ohau

Lake Ohau is a large exposed high country lake that holds a good population of both rainbow and brown trout.

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View Lake Ohau access map

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Fish type Brown and rainbow trout averaging 1 to 2 kg in good numbers and some small landlocked sockeye salmon.
Situation Lake Ohau lies to the southwest of the township of Twizel. It is surrounded by high hills and is fed by a series of tributaries including the important Dobson River and man made canals that are part of the hydro-electric power scheme.

Access map
Access map with topography

LINZ topographic maps: 1:50,000 (260 series)

Waitaki lakes pamphlet The Waitaki Lakes Recreational Information pamphlet, available at the Environment Canterbury website, includes sections on the lakes, safe boat navigation, camping, hydro power station statistics, wildlife and plants, local walks, and important contact information.

Lake Ohau is one of three lakes that have been affected by hydroelectric power production. It is a large U-shaped Lake that can be very exposed to the prevailing Norwest wind making it a lake to ensure appropriate care is taken when boating as it can chop up very quickly.

Trolling from a boat or spinning from the shore the preferred methods when fishing this lake though there is ample opportunity for the dry fly or wet fly angler. Trout can be spotted and fish to as they cruise the shoreline and under ideal conditions there can be a very good rise.

The most popular area for the shoreline angler is at the head of the lake where there is good fishing conditions, particularly where the large Dobson river flows into the lake. As well, the surrounding hills can provide some shelter from the wind.. Care should be taken however in this section as the lake bed can be very soft and muddy. As the water shelves slowly out from the shore it is possible to stalk cruising trout that are feeding around the weed beds.

Many regard this as an under fished lake they can provide greater opportunities when the conditions are correct.


Turn off State Highway 8 (at Clearburn) onto the Lake Ohau Lodge Road to gain access to the southern shores and to the head of the lake.

A road leading to Glen Lyon Station gives access to the northern shores as well as to the Dobson river.

Methods All methods work on this lake with trolling lures from a boat and spinning from the shore being the most popular methods. For the fly fisherman however there is ample opportunity on this large expanse of water.
Recommended tackle As wind can be a problem on this lake, fly rods are best in heavier weights of 7 or above.
Recommended lures

Dry flies: Humpys, Moleflies and Coch-y-Bondhu patterns when the water is ruffled by a (slight) wind. Otherwise try a Twilight Beauty or similar pattern when the water is calm.

Nymphs: Use un-weighted nymphs when sub surface activity is observed. The best method is to cast ahead of cruising or rising fish and then twitch the fly as they pass. Try patterns such as Pheasant Tail and Halfbacks or Hares Ear in sizes 12 -14.

Wet flies: Woolly Buggers, Hamill's Killer, Mrs Simpson or other small fish imitators.

Spinners: Black and gold Tobys, Rapalas, Cobras and Flatfish

Tributaries The major tributary is the Dobson River which also has a number of important tributaries such as the Maitland Stream and the Hopkins River. These are open to fishing from the first saturday in Nov and close 30 April.
Applicable to Ohau, Lake
Region Central South Island regulations

All year

No fishing for sockeye salmon 1 March - 30 April

Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: Minimum 300 mm
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Regulations 2
Applicable to Ohau, Lake tributaries
Region Central South Island regulations

First Saturday in November to 30 April

No fishing for sockeye salmon 1 March - 30 April

Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: Minimum 300 mm


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