Notable Waters: Karamea and Hokitika Rivers

This region extends some 800 kms from Karamea to Haast covering 2 million hectares of pristine wilderness.

The ‘Coast’ offers a great range of challenging sport fishing experiences with literally hundreds of lakes, rivers and streams to provide a lifetime of angling.

The Karamea River delivers wilderness fishing at its very best. Both the Karamea and the Mokihinui rivers have a well-deserved reputation as wild, scenic brown trout fisheries. Big brown cruisers inhabit the deeper pools, moving sideways and then darting upwards to seize drifting insect larvae. You have to work hard to place a nymph above them but when they strike you feel that exhilarating throbbing pull as the fish rushes downstream.

The Grey River boasts one of the highest catch rates in this region. It would take several weeks to do justice to all the angling options on this river, including the spring and rain-fed tributaries of Lake Brunner and the wonderful Arnold River. Spinning and bait fishing are popular in the lower Grey River and after Christmas those delectable sea run salmon travel upstream to their traditional spawning grounds.

The Hokitika River has everything to please the ardent angler with sea run browns and salmon in spring and summer as well as good fighting rainbows in the upper reaches. The Whitcombe River provides good threadline fishing in deep pools that release magnificent fish. South of the Hokitika a dinghy becomes useful on idyllic natural lakes such as Ianthe, Mapourika, Moeraki and Paringa. These oases of peace and solitude are all well suited to spinning or casting along the bush-fringed margins with a dry fly or bully imitation.

South of the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, the itinerant angler will discover unlimited new fishing water. The Haast River emerges from the grandeur of South Westland rainforest and joins the Landsborough River to form a most accessible and breathtaking backcountry waterway. These rivers never fail to delight the angler.

With all West Coast rivers it should be noted that heavy rainfall produces flood conditions, which can quickly become hazardous. Remarkably the rivers drain equally fast and soon return to a fishable state.

Guided backcountry fly-fishing by helicopter, boat or 4WD vehicle can be arranged in Greymouth, Westport, Hokitika, Haast and Lake Brunner.

Danny de Hek

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