McKenzie Hydro Canals Map - Complete Fishing Guide

When it comes to fishing, landing monster trout from the Twizel Canals has all sorts of hearsay and conjecture. Whether you are for it or against it, chasing the McKenzie monsters is something of a bucket list thing. You have to do it once, surely? 

But before you read this need to stop by and read the most comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about fishing the McKenzie Hydro Canals

Some purists will tell you that if you there looking for the all time trophy it doesn't count. There are always going to be people that don't like the McKenzie Hydro canal system but there's probably one hundred times more people fed up with others catching 30 pound rainbow trout.

Fly Fishing Twizel Canals Hydro nz


The fishery has morphed and changed over the past ten years and there's not so many trophies in above 20 pounds being caught anymore. There's a number of reasons. One might be that most have been caught and mounted on the wall, but another just as valid reason is that trout have a finite lifespan and that lifespan would be running out round about now.

If you are yet to head there, or have been and blanked, then we are here to help your next Hydro Canal Fishing experience with the most comprehensive spot guide to the region. 

Our resident expert has spent many a long day and walked the length and breadth of each side of every canal to bring you...

The Ultimate McKenzie Hydro Canal Fishing Map

 McKenzie Twizle Hyrdo Canals fishing mapMap Data ©️2024

Each map has been overlaid maps courtesy of Uncle Google (thanks!) and there are numbers below each that give a detailed description of what to expect. All you need to do now is dress up warm, get a nice light pair of wading boots (cos there's lots of walking), stock up on flies and be on your way. 


Lake Ohau

McKenzie Twizle Hyrdo Canals fishing map
Map Data ©️2024

1. Ohau A Wall

Great spot in autumn and early winter for trophy browns and rainbows. Swing heavily weighted (1oz+) flies in the turbulent water from the wall, big stoneflies and egg patterns work best. Otherwise softbait, egg-roll or if you want to get the fly rod out indicator nymph downstream from the tail end of the turbulence.

 2. The Bend

Year-round hotspot for big trout. Fish soft baits or indicator nymph the drop off from the bend down to the top of the cages, natural patterns with plenty of movement work best here. Some fantastic sight fishing opportunities through summer, lots of 2-6lb fish rising on the edges and some proper behemoths sitting a little deeper. 

3. Ohau A Cages

Soft bait from the northern bank casting towards the cages, casts need to land within a foot or so of the edge of the pens so be prepared to lose some gear! Fishes best in high flows, and with minnow style soft baits with heavy jig heads and plenty of action imparted by the angler. Also a great spot to swing a big streamer at night.

4. Cages to Confluence

This relatively short stretch can be extremely productive, particularly in autumn and spring. Only really suitable for egg rolling and when flows are relatively high, fish very small glo-bugs and relatively short drifts. If the fishing is slow switch up to a natural nymph or a squirmy worm. Dropping down to 6lb leader is often necessary due to the water clarity here, so stopping fish before the run upstream to the cages can be tricky.

5. The Point

Despite being one of the most consistently fished spots on the canals, the point at the confluence of Pukaki and Ohau A canals still produces some outstanding fish. The most effective method is to swing lightly weighted soft baits or streamers on a sinking line from either side of the fork into the seam where the two canals meet, followed by a slow twitching retrieve. Another top spot to swing a big streamer after dark for mega browns.

6. Pukaki Dam

Used to be an excellent salmon spot but has faded a bit since the bulk of the cages were removed from Ohau A. Still has its days, work lightly weighted soft baits around the dam wall and the 100m or so upstream for solid browns and rainbows. Always a few actively feeding fish along the edges upstream from the dam to pick off with a dry/dropper on the fly rod.

7. Ohau River Confluence

Late autumn and spring sees congregations of huge browns and rainbows making their way into the Ohau River and the point of the confluence of the river and Lake Ruataniwha is a prime spot to intercept them. Swing streamers or softbaits through the flow and into the seam, then twitch them back. Dusk, dawn and the hours of darkness are your prime times here.

8. Ohau River

Jurassic Park. Monster trout make their way through the lake into the river to spawn, making for a truly unique fly fishing experience. Tongariro style fishing to fish up to and over 35lb, with sight fishing opportunities in the crystal clear water is incomparable to any other fly fishing river. A must-do for all fly anglers, balloted fishery and closed certain times of the year so be sure to check the most recent regulations. Bombs and eggs are the main method, but they’ll absolutely slam a streamer swung across them as well.


Pukaki Canal

McKenzie Twizle Hyrdo Canals fishing map
Map Data ©️2024

9. Pukaki Bend

Fish downstream from the powerlines with lightly weighted soft baits. Holds a healthy population of “natural” browns and rainbows year round, generally in the 2-8lb range. It’s one of the lesser fished sections of the canals, so is a good option to get away from the crowds during busy days. Also worth rolling eggs through autumn and early winter for some trophy fish as they make their way upstream, but be prepared to lose a few sinkers on the snaggy bottom

10. Pukaki Edges

For a bit of variety from the usual egg-rolling and soft baiting, the edges of the Pukaki canal hold excellent numbers of cruising browns, particularly through the warmer months. These are prime targets for the fly angler and will readily rise to dries, with humpys and terrestrials being the best options. For fish that aren’t rising, pheasant tail variations, snails and smaller stonefly patterns will usually induce a take. Most fish are in the 2-8lb range, with the occasional much larger fish to get the heart pumping.

11. Below the Boulders

The stretch below the turbulent water at the top of Pukaki has one of the highest densities of fish in the entire canal system, but is one of the less frequently fished. Cast softbaits well upstream and twitch them back, fishing your way downstream to the bridge. Dark paddle tail lures work best, and fishes particularly well in the evenings when the fishing can be red hot.

12. Pukaki Washing Machine

Don’t let the turbulent water put you off – the top of Pukaki can be an excellent option on its day! Best fished in lower flow conditions, run a bait behind a relatively heavy barrel sinker and let it run along the bottom through the whitewash for a mixture of all three species



McKenzie Twizle Hyrdo Canals fishing map
Map Data ©️2024

13. Ruataniwha Point

A very popular spot so get there pre-dawn to secure your spot right on the point where Lake Ruataniwha drains into the canal. Cast soft baits as far into the lake towards the marker buoy as you can, and let them dead drift back around into the flow for best results – this spot produces consistent salmon interspersed with the occasional monster rainbow to keep things interesting.

14. Wairepo Arm

Drive to the bottom of Ohau B, cross the dam and head back upstream to where the Wairepo Arm joins the canal. Drift softbaits or slowly retrieve spinners where the flow meets the still water. Dark natural colours like black & gold are most productive, and this spot fishes best on the change of light in the evening. Soaking a bait often produces a salmon or two for the table. Drifting flies under an indicator around the corner work well, with 20lb+ specimens on the fly rod a genuine possibility.

15. Ohau B wall

A popular spot for bait fishermen, the Ohau B wall can produce some outstanding salmon fishing at times. While bait is the go-to method here, twitching a very lightly weighted soft bait through the eddies in each corner can be extremely effective, and there’s often a couple of huge browns lurking.

16. Top of Ohau C

The top of Ohau C canal is heavily fished – and for good reason! This spot regularly produces trophy fish of all three species, and these can be taken on a number of methods. Spinning is most effective for salmon, while drifting paddle-tail softbaits across the flow works best for trout.

17. Ohau C cages

Dinosaur country. Without a doubt home to the largest trout on the planet, the Ohau C cages aren’t a place for the faint hearted! Softbaiting the edges of the cages is the way to go here, with dark patterns fished as close to the bottom as possible working best. The stretches between pens can also be targeted on the fly, particularly when the fish get active at dusk. Controlling a fish here is paramount, as the big fish know exactly where the cables are and how to use them. Consecutive official world record browns have been caught here, making this piece of water home to literally the largest trout on the planet!

18. Opposite the cages

The run of water opposite the cages on Ohau C has something for everyone. Bait fishing will regularly pluck salmon for the table, softbaiting will do the same but more scope for bycatch of mega trout. Mega browns sit along the edges and will eat a well presented fly. Egg rolling is most effective here though, but it is also the  most technical stretch to fish. Long casts landing right next to the cages are paramount to success, and run longer droppers to both the sinker and your glo-bugs than you would elsewhere.

19. Ohau C dam

Fish the same as Ohau B dam, either by soaking baits or drifting softbaits on 1/16th – 1/12th oz jigheads in the eddies formed in each corner of the dam.

20. Ohau River delta

A great day-saver when the fishing is tough in the canals! The area where the river meets the lake is loaded with rainbows and browns in the 3-6lb range. Natural softbaits are extremely effective, particularly on rough windy days when the lake is stirred up. Stripping woolly buggers is also a blast, and the fish that sit in the river mouths will readily accept nymphs. Has been the difference between a tough day and a fun session on multiple occasions


Lower Tekapo

McKenzie Twizle Hyrdo Canals fishing map
Map Data ©️2024

21. Fish Bowl farms

A perfect option for those chasing a couple of salmon for the table, the salmon farm in the “Fish Bowl” is up there with the best spots in the whole canal system for catching a feed. Park at the carpark at the bowl, walk across the dam and back up to the cages. Fish softbaits on the edges or throw spinners into the deep and fish them low and slow back. Float fishing is also extremely effective here and is a really under-utilised way of targeting salmon.

22. The Fish Bowl

The wide, slow flowing section at the bottom of Tekapo canal has earned its nickname “the Fish Bowl” for two reasons – the lack of water movement, and the huge number of fish it holds. Spinning is very effective with black and gold lures fished super slow and deep being easily the most effective for salmon and big chrome rainbows. It’s also arguable the best spot to target big fish on the fly – fish Tongariro style with a big Simon’s Ugly and a trailing size 14 Otter Egg suspended under a big indicator along the edges where the Bowl narrows back into the canal.

23. The Posts

A fickle spot that can make your day, then just as quickly break it! The flow breaking posts provide great structure for big trout to use as cover, and a well presented soft bait will often get eaten. Landing a fish here is challenging at best though, so fish heavier leader, be aggressive during the fight, and be prepared for some heartbreak!

24. Tekapo Boulders

A great winter option that holds good numbers of both browns and rainbows. Egg rolling is best here, you’ll need to drop down a sinker size to get a decent drift as this section is slower than others. Keep a fly-rod handy as there will often be an occasional mega brown cruising the edges that will ignore everything but the best presented nymph on the nose.

25. Tekapo Cages

Year round egg-rolling paradise, the Tekapo cages are one of the most consistent spots in the system. Needs plenty of flow to be effective, use the smallest glo-bugs and Otter Eggs you can find. Be prepared to lose a bit of gear to the cages as your casts need to land hard up against the edge of the cages and the scrappy rainbows that reside here fight dirty!


Upper Tekapo

McKenzie Twizle Hyrdo Canals fishing mapMap Data ©️2024


Note – All Map 5 areas are closed for fishing from June 1st - August 31st

26. The Magic Carpet

The most heavily fished, and most productive stretch of water in the entire system, the “Magic Carpet” is both loved and loathed in equal measure. You’ll almost never have this stretch of water to yourself, and at times it can resemble a conveyor belt of anglers mindlessly walking their eggs downstream. While this close-quarters fishing isn’t for everyone, when it fires the fishing can be absolutely electric with 20lb+ fish left, right and centre. With so much pressure, presentation and egg selection is key – natural drifts with the correct weight, and the smaller the better with the egg patterns.

27. The Bend

With so much pressure on the “Magic Carpet”, the fish will often move away from the anglers and sit on the bend above the carpark – countless times when the fishing has gone quiet, a quick walk upstream will immediately produce fish.

28. Everywhere Else

With the known spots on this stretch getting so much pressure, the fish will naturally disperse a bit to get away from all of the madness. Covering ground relatively quickly is the way to go, with a few extra drifts on the bends or if you notice a change in bottom structure.

29. The Bridge

Similar to the “Magic Carpet” in that there will always be another angler here, but again for good reason! The bridge here provides rare structure for the fish to congregate around, and the area 100m or so either side of the bridge is loaded with fish. Egg-rolling is again the go-to method, but this stretch also provides excellent flyfishing opportunities. Fish the drop off with a Simon’s Ugly trailed by a size 14 Otter Egg or orange bead Hare & Copper, and be prepared to put some hurt on a fish to keep it away from the bridge – fish here average 15lb+ so they take some convincing to stop!



 About the Author: 

Bryce Helms is a true favourite. He's a wonderful human being who knows his fishing and he definitely knows this spot.