Clutha River Mouth Kahawai

A vast school of kahawai just inside the mouth of the Clutha River.
A vast school of kahawai just inside the mouth of the Clutha River.

Clutha River Mouth Kahawai

By Peter Davy

The tide comes in on the north side of the Clutha River mouth and rushes out on the south side. This never changes regardless of what the tide actually is. The Clutha River is so big and powerful that it always has a fierce outgoing current on the south side. Huge schools of Clutha River mouth kahawai can be caught just inside the entrance.

The kahawai always come in on the north side (Kaitangata) and they sit in the slack water where the incoming tide meets the outgoing in the middle of the river. This forms an eddy and they just sit in it going around in circles which I have on drone video.

Kahawai can show up at any stage of the tide but they hate dirty water. As soon as a fresh comes down they’re gone. If it isn’t too bad they will sit outside the bar all day but not come into the river itself.

Due to all the rain we just had they are gone and I would guess that unless the river cleans up real fast that is the end of the kahawai season at the Clutha mouth for this year.

There will always be the odd kahawai running up the north side even in dirty water but not any big schools. These fish are travelling not just sitting there.

Even when a huge school comes into the river they may not take a lure. I have drone video of fishermen casting lures into literally thousands of kahawai without hooking up… over and over. I don’t think the fishermen even knew they were there.

Sometimes if the water is clean enough the kahawai are only about two metres off the bank on the north side. Again I have a drone video to prove it. Fishermen were casting out into the middle of the river when there were thousands of fish at their feet. They could have waded out and just grabbed them by the tail.

If you want to fish the south side then the secret is to cast all the way over to the North side but be warned if you do hook up then the fish will get into that fierce outgoing current and then it is like fighting a shark.

I was reluctant to post any of these photos or give any tips because I saw a lot of very greedy people slaughter a ridiculous amount of fish. Nobody needs 15 kahawai for every family member there and most of them just thrown-up on the sand to cook in the sun while they carried on fishing. Not bled immediately or gutted or kept cool. This is what gives fishermen a bad name.

I post this for the others who take their kids down to catch their first fish, who actually eat the kahawai they catch, who practice catch and release or are just getting into fishing and want to catch a fish that puts up a good fight. I was you once so I know what it’s like and I post this for you.

The best times were dawn and dusk two hours after low tide… but when the school moves into the river you can catch as many as you like all day long off the north side.

Finally, I tracked the schools with a drone for 3 weeks so I have a lot of video footage that will be processed into a video that I will be putting on Youtube eventually. I will post a link here when it’s done but could take a while because I’m very busy.

Could there be 10,000 kahawai in this school? Photographs courtesy of Peter Davy.
Could there be 10,000 kahawai in this school? Photographs courtesy of Peter Davy.
A densely packed school of kahawai at the Clutha Rover mouth.
A densely packed school of kahawai at the Clutha Rover mouth.

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