Coping with High Water in New Zealand

By November, most rivers are open to fishing in New Zealand (the rivers around here in the north of the South Island mostly open in October.) However it is springtime and that usually means rain. But don’t be put off by the chance of spring rain and high flows; with a bit of effort you will almost always find somewhere to fish.

The sheer number of rivers, streams and lakes, combined with weather-making mountain ranges scattered all over New Zealand, mean you can usually drive for no more than 60 minutes and find something clear enough to fish. As a rough guide, rivers that flow out of wilderness areas will colour up later than lowland rivers and will clear faster too. And typically, the headwaters/upper reaches of rivers and streams will be clearer than the lower sections.

Down low or high up, the good news is that big flows will push most of the trout to the edges and sometimes I mean right on the edges, like with their back nearly out of the water. So pay careful attention to the edges, because that’s where the fish will be. Your favourite big stonefly nymph is the pattern of choice when the streams are high & discoloured – vary the weight to match the water you’re covering. You’ll find the trout will move quite some distance for one of these (apparently) tasty morsels.

Aside from the major rivers and streams, every region of New Zealand is blessed with some spring creeks – read up about these before your trip to New Zealand and this prior knowledge will help you keep on fishing even if the weather packs it in. Finally, New Zealand is positively littered with lakes; go for a wee walk around the edges of any of these lakes and you’ll be surprised what will cruise by.