Published On: Mon, Nov 27th, 2017

Mapourika, Lake, Salmon and Trout Fishing – Westland

New Zealand Map showing Lake Mapourika, Westland.

Lake Mapourika – Brown Trout and Quinnat Salmon

Located 10 km north of Franz Joseph in one of the most beautiful scenic parts of New Zealand. The salmon fishing is variable but there are plenty of big brown trout although you might find them hard to catch.

Though there is good brown trout fishing and sea-run salmon from December to March, the thick bush cover makes access for anglers on foot around the lake difficult. The lake is too dangerous for wading. A small boat or kayak is a worthwhile investment. There are a few clear places where the thread-line angler can cast if you keep a lookout while travelling along State Highway 6. Successful spinners include anything black and gold such as a Toby, small zed spinner, or Tassie Devil. Most trout and salmon are caught near the bottom so your best bet is a slow retrieve.

Marg Delore caught this big salmon in Lake Mapourika. That sure looks like a big fish!

Marg Delore caught this big salmon in Lake Mapourika. That sure is a beaut fish! Photo courtesy of Marg Delore.

Lake Mapourika, at 11 square kilometres (7 square miles), is the second largest lake in West Coast region after Lake Brunner. The lake bed is 37 metres (120 feet) at its deepest. The lake is carved from an ancient glacier. Perhaps surprisingly Mapourika is not a Maori name. Rather it was the name of a ship that sailed between New Zealand’s West Coast and Australia during the gold rush of the 1800s. In those days it was faster to sail from the West Coast to Australia and back to a New Zealand port than to travel overland by a more direct route.

Fish & Game sign at Lake Mapourika. The small red insert says, "Attention Anglers: If you have captured and kept your bag limit for one species you must cease fishing for the day.

Fish & Game sign at Lake Mapourika. The small red insert says, “Attention Anglers: If you have captured and kept your bag limit for one species you must cease fishing for the day. 

Salmon were first released into Lake Mapourika as early as 1932. Quinnat salmon run up the Okarito River from the sea into the lake from December to April. Some years the salmon fishing here is very good indeed. Big salmon are also taken by deep trolling. There is also a small population of smaller landlocked salmon present in the lake. Just under 6000 Quinnat salmon fingerlings were released into Lake Mapourika back in 2015.

Expert angler Lex Coutts from Christchurch with a 1.8 kg butter-coloured Lake Mapourika brownie taken trolling.

Expert angler Lex Coutts from Christchurch with a 1.8 kg butter-coloured Lake Mapourika brownie taken trolling.

Like all the West Coast lakes that have dense bush surrounding them the water is tea coloured from rainwater leaching through the vegetation. This makes spotting trout hard work. Spinning and trolling are the preferred fishing methods.

The Okarito River drains Lake Mapourika into the Okarito Lagoon.

Bag Limits and Open Season

The open season for trout and perch fishing in Lake Mapourika (excluding tributaries) is all year. McDonalds Creek at Lake Mapourika is closed to fishing at all times. The minimum length for trout and salmon caught in Lake Mapourika is 250mm. The bag limit in Lake Mapourika is 2 trout and 2 salmon. Bait, fly and spin fishing are all permitted on this lake, as is the case with all waters on the West Coast.

The Open Season for salmon in Lake Mapourika is 1 October to 31 March. Brown trout fishing is permitted all year.

You can download the West Coast Fish & Game Region Access Brochure.

The Department of Conservation Otto/MacDonalds Camp Site is located at the northern end of Lake Mapourika. It has basic facilities only.

Video: Glacier Country Lake Tours Scenic Cruises, Guided Rainforest Walks and Fishing Charters on Lake Mapourika, Franz Josef Glacier, NZ
Glacier Country Lake Tours vessel at the southern end of Lake Mapourika. Glacier Country Lake Tours offer scenic lake trips and fishing charters.

Glacier Country Lake Tours vessel at the southern end of Lake Mapourika. Glacier Country Lake Tours offer scenic lake trips and fishing charters.

Tour boat at the southern end of Lake Mapourika.

Tour boat the Hanna-K at the southern end of Lake Mapourika.

Lake Mapourika, Westland. Photo: GoogleEarth, TerraMetrics, Landsat, DigitalGlobe. From a height of 3 miles. There is a small lake in the bush to the northwest of Lake Mapourika called Alpine Lake Ata-Puai. Click on map to enlarge.

Lake Mapourika, Westland. Photo: GoogleEarth, TerraMetrics, Landsat, DigitalGlobe. From a height of 3 miles. There is a small lake in the bush to the north-west of Lake Mapourika called Alpine Lake Ata-Puai. Click on the map to enlarge.

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Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.

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