World Wide Fishing!

A Very Rough Guide to Fishing New Zealand

By Mike Thomas, New Zealand

Recently there have been a few questions on the Bulletin Board about fishing in New Zealand so I thought I would try to give you all a rough guide.

Author Mike Thomas

The fishing in New Zealand can be fantastic but please do not believe all the hype; you do not have to hide behind a tree before you open your fly box! The fishing can be quite hard and the Trout very educated on the more popular rivers, but they can be fooled and if you happen to find an uncooperative fish you can simply move up to the next pool and try the next trout.

New Zealand's fishing can be roughly broken down in to 2 types of rivers: Backcountry or wilderness rivers and rural or low country rivers.

Each type need there own unique approach with the backcountry fishing often being sight fishing in very clear water for large trout that seem to be able to spot you from about a hundred yards away and often are sitting in spots with lots of cover and lots of escape routes for the fish. As a general rule the bigger the fish the more awkward the lie from a fishing point of view. If you want to have a go at this most rewarding fishing you can of course just arrive and give it a go but if you can afford a guide I would recommend that you use one, if only for the FIRST day. You will learn a hell of a lot from a good guide about the local fish and how to catch them in a full days fishing. There is absolutely no point learning lots from a guide on your LAST day, you will just leave frustrated.

Author Mike Thomas

The lowland rivers are a bit different, they are often a little coloured from farm run off or just from running through bush upstream where the leaf litter may give the water a tannin-like stain. Lowland rivers can be easier to fish and may require you to cover the water rather than just sight fish. The trout in these types of water are just as big and feisty as their backcountry cousins. As you are not sight fishing you never know if the next fish is going to be a small one pound rainbow or a giant fish of a lifetime. The biggest trout I ever landed was a Brown trout from a lowland stream coloured by farm run off and pulled the mark on my weigh net to 12lb. This stream was no more than 15 to 20ft wide so do not ignore the smaller streams they will often hold a few surprises.

Just about every region in N.Z. has some fishable water that holds good stocks of wild trout, the North Island has a good mix of both Rainbows and Browns and some of the best lake fishing anywhere in the world. The South Island has mostly Brown trout with the odd river holding Rainbows as well. The South Island also boasts some great Salmon fishing though these are mostly caught on spinners.

Author Mike Thomas

The weather in N.Z. can be very variable even in the summer months and as the land warms up a stiff sea breeze can kick in most afternoons. Because of this Kiwis tend to fish a bit heavier than strictly needed, however when you do hook that monster Rainbow or Brown you will be glad to have a six weight rod rather than a four!

I would recommend a six weight for most of your fishing in N.Z. Some of the bigger rivers like the Tongariro may need an eight weight to fish effectively but a six will cover most of both islands. No matter what your preference for fly fishing you will be able to indulge it in N.Z. and often on the same river. One of the rivers I fish quite often is the Wanganui upstream of Taumaranui and I will often start off with a weighted nymph in the morning, change to a dry fly in the middle of the day and then fish wee wets in the late afternoon and take good fish on all of them. This is not unique to this river, most rivers in N.Z. will fish well to all methods at some time or another during the day so be flexible, if you are not catching fish try a different approach. As for fly selection most American and English patterns will work in N.Z. and of course all the local tackle shops will sell you the local "must have" fly and normally throw in a bit of advice about local rivers as well. They also will have free access guides produced by New Zealand Fish and Game that are also available online in pdf format (Do a search for Fish and Game N.Z.).

I hope this helps if you are thinking of coming to The Land Of The Long White Cloud, it is a very rough guide but I believe most of the advice given will cover both Islands and if you think you need more info you can always P.M. me, I am always happy to help as much as I can.

I hope you can come and experience the fishing and the people of New Zealand for yourself; it truly is a wonderful place full of good fishing and great people as well as some spectacular scenery. All the best and "tight lines." ~ Mike Thomas

More Fly Fishing Down Under:

Fly Fishing New Zealand
The Art of New Zealand Flying Fishing
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Flyfishing Taupo (New Zealand) Streams & Rivers
Stalking the Large Trout of Australia
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Matching the Hatch
A Guide to 'Cracking' the Mystery of the Mataura

Fly fishing in the Mitta Mitta Valley of NE Victoria, Australia
Bream on the Fly - Australia
A Very Rough Guide to Fishing New Zealand

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