Notable Waters: Rangitata and Opihi Rivers

The Central region extends from the Rakaia River down to Moeraki and contains renowned chinook salmon, brown and rainbow trout fisheries.

Magnificent sea run salmon are the star attraction here as in the North Canterbury region. It is a thrill to stand at the mouth of a Canterbury river, cast a spoon and hook into a powerful silver-sided 15 kg. fighting fish – a memory to be nurtured for a lifetime.

The Rangitata is a venerated river with sparkling rapids, smooth glides and placid pools where countless novice anglers have been introduced to the august race of Pacific salmon and Californian trout. Some 4000 anglers spend around 36000 fishing days on this magnificent river every year. Both the Rangitata and Waitaki are favoured with salmon averaging 8-12 kg. and the best fishing is at the river mouths where a sociable ‘picket fence’ of anglers is a common sight. Sea run brown trout are plentiful from April to June when they return to the region’s rivers to spawn. Sockeye salmon are present in small numbers and also brook char, perch and tench in small coastal streams.

The inland Mackenzie Basin is well known for its sports fishing. The Waitaki hydro lakes, Benmore and Aviemore, are very popular summer camping and fishing venues. From there it is only a short drive to some of the best fly fishing in the region on the Tekapo, Twizel, Ahuriri, Hakataramea and Opihi rivers. The Opihi is internationally renowned as a dry fly stream and the Ahuriri is an excellent wild and scenic river with a reputation for producing both brown and rainbow trophy fish. Lakes Heron, Clearwater and Emma contain good stocks of brown and rainbow trout while Lake Emily carries a small stock of brook char.

Guided fly-fishing safaris for wild trophy trout and salmon are available in Ashburton, Timaru, Twizel, Kurow and Temuka. Near Twizel there is a unique alpine salmon farm, which has self-guided tours and catch options.