HomeOtagoOtago: Where to fishPoolburn Dam

Poolburn Dam


Poolburn Dam offers relaxed fishing in the middle of Central Otago plateau for a good population of brown trout.

Fish type Brown trout
Situation This 300ha irrigation storage reservoir is situated just north-east of Manorburn Dam and east of Alexandra. The Poolburn Dam and the resulting lake was formed in 1931 and is now a popular recreational venue for a variety of water-based activities.

Access Map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast

View the rainfall.


Poolburn Dam is a quiet exposed water in Central Otago amidst some beautiful scenery. The surrounding land is very open and tussock covered providing little shelter in adverse weather conditions. The hills around the lake have many interesting rock formations (and there are some rocks that rise to just below the surface in the lake itself so if using a boat take care).

The lake has a number of islands which provide good trout habitat. Spin and fly fishing are the best methods to fish this water, though bait fishing with worms is legal and popular with younger anglers. Trolling is also popular but the number of submerged rocks can take their toll on lures (and outboard propellers!). There is no need to use deep sinking lead lines however as most anglers prefer to troll using normal spinning gear. Most fish caught are in fact close to the shore and the lake can have an excellent rise in the warmer months.

Trout cruise the shallows and will feed in very shallow water so long casting is not always necessary or advisable. During the warm weather any wind can blow a range of insects onto the surface which can induce a savage splashy rise. There is also an amazing midge and sandfly population and when these are hatching will bring trout to a feeding frenzy (and if you do not have good insect repellent can drive anglers into a frenzy).


Road access

Road access is either south of Ida Valley, turning south off SH85; or continuing along the turn-off from Alexandra towards Upper Manorburn Dam. The last 9km of the road to Poolburn is unmetalled and only accessible for use by 4WD vehicles during and following heavy rain.

Boat ramps

Boat ramps are situated:

- just south of the dam at Drunken Woman Bay

- in the north at Hutts Bay.
- at the north tip in Bonspiel Bay

Recommended lures

Small Hare’s Ear, Rough nymphs, midge  pupa patterns and damsel fly nymphs.

Dry flies: Brown and green beetles, Royal Wulff, and Coch-y-Bondhu early in the season. Then later Cicada, Black Gnat and Peveril of the Peak.

Wet flies/streamers:
Mrs Simpson's yellow or red, Grey Ghost, Dorothy. , Green Woolly Bugger, Hamill’s

Spinners: Early in the season, use normal size lures. Try Rapalas, Copper Zed spinners, Silver and black Tobys, Black and Yellow Mepps, and Veltics.

Tributaries Poolburn Creek
Applicable to Poolburn Dam
Region Otago regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None

Other fishing waters of the region


NZFishing.com is the complete guide to New Zealand trout and salmon fishing.

Advertise Here