Brown trout, rainbow trout

Trout Fishing

Southland is a stronghold for healthy populations of wild brown trout in New Zealand.

The region is bisected by four major rivers - the Aparima, Waiau, Oreti and Mataura. In particular, the Mataura River has an international reputation as one of the best brown trout fisheries in the world. It has the highest population of fish per kilometer and catch rate of any river in New Zealand. It is also famous for its hatches and spinner falls - particularily in late summer from the Mayfly. The Mataura offers multiple Fish and Game access points which are all open to the public, plentiful fish and water so translucent it is often described as ‘gin-clear’. The Mataura Valley is a genuine ‘dry-fly Mecca’. Yet the mighty Mataura River is only the starting point for the huge variety of fishing opportunities throughout the province.

Lumsden is centrally located for excellent trout fishing in every direction of the compass.

To the north lie the Acton, Nevis, Winley, Oreti Headwaters, Mataura Headwaters, Brightwater Spring, Mararoa, Irving, Eglington, Eyre and Von Rivers. In the east the rivers include the middle sections of the Mataura, the Tomogalak and the fabulous Waikaia River and Dome Creek. Rivers to the west cover the Whitestone, Upukerora, Waiau, Aparima and Home Creek, Hamilton Burn and the middle sections of the Oreti. Rivers to the south again include lower (wider and deeper) sections of the Mataura, Otamita, Aparima and Oreti, the Pomahaka and Waimea. This does not list all the productive burns or creeks that feed into these rivers nor does it list the large number of lakes in the region.

It is not surprising that Southland has the highest participation in angling per capita of any region in New Zealand.

It is possible to fish a different river, stream or lake every day for a month and still not have experienced all the fishing that Southland can offer. If you ever wanted to learn fly fishing or seek to improve your skills then a fishing trip to Lumsden will give you many opportunities to fish a variety of small and large waterways while casting over exciting and productive water.

The Oreti Headwaters have an international reputation for producing "trophy" trout that are difficult to catch and provide a real contest for any fly fishing enthusiast. They are so wary that a perfect cast is required and their size makes landing very challenging. The headwaters of the Mataura also holds large fish. The lowland rivers are more productive and offer excellent angling for all levels and skills where larger numbers of smaller fish (averaging 4lbs or 1.8kgs) can be caught and landed.

The town wakes early in summer and the main street is dotted with camouflaged anglers grabbing lunches before leaving for a day out on a chosen river. Accents from Australia, Scotland, USA, Canada, France, Britain and Finland fill the streets and reflect the lure that this small town in New Zealand has had over the international fly fishing community. Yet once the fishing vehicles disperse, the region offers so many accessible fishing locations that it easily absorbs the adventure seekers and it is uncommon to see another person for the remainder of the day. Many anglers consider Lumsden to be a trout fishing haven and return each year to continue their battle with the wily brown trout.

Guided Fishing

A number of excellent fishing guides base their operations from Lumsden. They can provide advice on seasonal variations in trout feeding patterns and suitable fly presentations. They are also very knowledgeable on water levels and any interesting changes in trout behavior. Regular summer rain means that the rivers and streams flow strongly all through the fishing season. A good knowledge of water levels is important when planning a successful day out in Southland. The guides are very helpful in locating clear water which always increases your chances of spotting and catching fish. Lessons on casting techniques are also available. Information about guiding can be found on

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