HomeOtagoOtago: Where to fishLake Onslow

Lake Onslow


Lake Onslow is one of Otago’s best lake fisheries for brown trout offering excellent fishing for all skill levels and all methods. It is remote and can be windswept at times but is worth the effort when the conditions are right.

Fish type Brown trout

This man-made lake covers 830ha. Set in wide, open Otago tussock 700m above sea level it offers exciting high country fishing for a good stock of wild brown trout. Due to its altitude and the open countryside it can be very exposed and bleak in adverse weather.

Lake Onslow is located east of Roxburgh, off SH8 south of Alexandra.


Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast

Lake Onslow is a wild fishery with five major tributaries that each offer excellent spawning grounds for the large population of stocky fish. It was formed by the damming of the Teviot River. It is very open and exposed which can make it rather unpleasant to fish when the weather turns bad. In the warm weather with a light wind it offers top quality fishing and is suitable for all methods. Fish rise freely during these warmer months providing excellent dry fly fishing. Many fish can be spotted cruising the shoreline so long casting either with a spinner or fly is unnecessary. Trolling is also very popular.


Bait fishing

Bait fishing works well throughout the year but as the lake water is weedy and shallow, suspend baits from a float about 1 metre below the surface rather than using a sinker. Worms and grubs work well.

Fly fishing

During the warmer months trout rise freely to take terrestrial insects that have landed on the lake. There can be excellent caddis and midge hatches and small midge and emerger sedge patterns fished just sub-surface work well. During the summer there can be very good fishing using cicada patterns. Fishing from the shore is best when there is a slight breeze rippling the water’s surface.


Trolling is the most popular method. As the lake is very shallow there is not much need to use weighted lead-core lines (and if using these use no more than 1 or 2 colours). Most anglers just use a good length of ordinary nylon.


Spinning is also very popular and to avoid catching the weeds that grow subsurface, don't let the lure sink too deep before retrieving..

Fish numbers and size

The population is self-sustaining wild trout due to excellent spawning habitat in the lake’s tributaries. Fish average 1-1.5kg, but can reach 3kg or more. They are feisty fighters.


The two most popular access routes are from Miller’s Flat and Roxburgh East, both off SH8. Both are good gravel roads but recommended for 4-wheel drive vehicles.

Although most of the access roads are private, they are usually available for public use by the  owners if approached.

Boat ramp

There is a boat ramp on the west side of the lake by a cluster of privately owned fishing huts.

Recommended lures

Midge pupa and caddis emergers, Hare's Ear, and Damselfly

Dry flies:
In spring and early summer use Royal Wulff, Coch-y-Bondhu, brown or green beetle imitations. In January and February, use cicada patterns. Later in the season use Black
Gnat and Peveril of the Peak. At dawn and dusk throughout the season, use Adams.

Wet flies /Streamers:
Water-boatman, Woolly Bugger, Hamill’s Killer, Mrs Simpson, Fuzzy Wuzzy.

Spinners: Black and gold Toby, green and gold Veltic, Mepps, silver and green Hexagon wobbler, and Jensen Insect.

Tributaries Tributaries to Lake Onslow
- Fortification Creek
- Boggy Creek
- Teviot River (North Branch)- Teviot River (South Branch)
- Boundary Creek
Applicable to Lake Onslow
Region Otago regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 10
Size limit (cm) None
Boat fishing Fishing from boats is permitted.
If fishing from a mechanically propelled boat, the boat must
stay at least 100m from any angler fishing from the shore.

Other fishing waters of the region


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