Good catch rates recorded in annual survey of 'Hurricane Hāwea'

Jul 10, 2024

"Hurricane Hāwea" may have sent some boaties scurrying for shore last fishing season but it hardly put a dent in hourly catch rates.

Anglers on Lake Hāwea were often beleaguered by strong wind conditions during the 2023 to 2024 fishing season, Otago Fish & Game officer Ben Sowry says.

“The high mountains are notorious for tunnelling the wind down this lake, earning it the nickname Hurricane Hāwea,” he says.

Fish & Game interviewed anglers on the lake for the second season of a three-year survey period.

Lake Hāwea anglers caught on average one fish for three hours of angling, an almost identical effort to the previous season’s catch rate.

“Usually, the main catches have been from boats trolling lures, but with the rough conditions, more anglers were casting from the shore this season,” Mr Sowry says.

“It’s interesting to see that the hourly catch rate is almost the same, despite the swing towards land-based fishing.”

Spin anglers fishing from shore caught just as many fish by percentage compared with boat trollers.

Lake Hāwea, which is open to fishing all year, has the highest catch rate of the three biggest southern lakes in Otago.

Rangers encountered no anglers on 16 out of 36 randomised survey days, often due to high winds, Mr Sowry says.

Spin fishing - accountable for 38.3 percent of anglers - was more popular than the previous season but boat trolling - at 47.5 percent - still remained the most popular fishing method overall. Fly fishing comprised 14.2 percent of the angling effort.

Rainbow trout were the main catch, followed by brown trout and then salmon.

Salmon catches were highest during November 2023, compared with December having the highest salmon numbers in 2022.

"Hāwea is a great option for those wanting to catch a fish for the table. The brown and rainbow trout, as well as the abundant land-locked chinook salmon, make amazing table fare," Mr Sowry says.

The Neck and the western shoreline alongside State Highway 6 were the most popular angling areas where fish were commonly caught. Some angling effort was focussed off the Timaru and Dingle Burn stream mouths when weather conditions allowed.

Main image (Supplied/Ian Hadland): Lucas Rae, 6, right, catches a land-locked salmon while boat trolling with his family, from left, Justine, Amelia, 4, Kieran, and Steve on Lake Hāwea, this summer. 

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