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Lake Opuha Trout and Salmon Fishing

Lake Opuha is a 700 hectare man-made lake, built with the purpose of acting as an irrigation reservoir, which offers good fishing. The lake lies hidden away and sheltered within the Fairlie Basin, 12km from the township of Fairlie. As well as fishing, the lake is used in summer for boating, kayaking and water skiing.


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Fish type

Lake Opuha boasts three introduced species of fish. Rainbow trout were in the Opuha river before the dam was built; brown trout and salmon have been released since. Lake Opuha salmon are landlocked by the Opuha dam and generally have a life expectancy of three years.


Stored winter and spring river flow is released in summer for stock watering and domestic and industrial use. In addition to water storage, Lake Opuha provides electricity with a small scale hydro 7.5MW electric plant on the outlet of the dam at the head of the Opuha River gorge. The Opuha River then flows south-easterly to join the Opihi River.


Access map
Access map with topography

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

River flow and water clarity

View a graph at the Environment Canterbury website showing recent rainfall at Clayton. View lake levels here


Lake Opuha is great fishing lake if you have your own boat and fishing gear. Power boats are allowed on the lake and there are several boat ramps to get you launched on to  this wide warm body of placid water. Spaces for camping and picnics are large and well spread out.

The Lions Club run a fishing competition on the lake every November in conjunction with CSI Fish & Game.


Getting there

Turn off SH79 east of the Opihi River and Fairlie and follow Clayton Road, a long straight tar-sealed road, to Lake Opuha. See the Opihi/Opuha River access map.

Methods Trolling from a boat or spinning from the shore work best.
Recommended lures

Dry flies:


Wet flies: Woolly Bugger


Applicable to Lake Opuha and its tributaries
(but not the Opuha River)
Region Central South Island regulations >>>

Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar

Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 6 trout or salmon in total.
Trout: 4
Salmon 6
Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum

New Zealand Fly Fishing Adventures

New Zealand Fly Fishing Escapes


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