Fishing - Methven Mt Hutt Guide NZ

Salmon & Trout Fishing in the Methven area

The Methven area falls within Fish & Game New Zealand’s Central South Island region. Our high country lakes, braided rivers, backcountry streams and spring creeks offer some of New Zealand’s best fishing spots.  Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout and Salmon can be found in the area and a variety of fishing methods can be used to catch them.

The majority of the best fishing spots around the Methven area can easily be accessed by car. There are some fantastic remote high country fishing spots that do require 4WD access followed by a bit of a walk – theses areas get less fishing pressure than others so often provide the best fishing.

The open season for waters of the Central South Island Region is from 1 October to 30 April, but there are many exceptions or closed season periods you will need to be aware of. Open season information can be viewed in Fish & Game NZ’s South Island Sports Fishing Regulation brochure, which also includes information on catch limits, licensing laws and fishing methods. Fishing in New Zealand is administered by local Fish & Game departments.

Freshwater fishing licences can be bought online from the Fish and Game website, or from the following Ashburton agents: Ashburton Hunting & Fishing, Outdoor Adventure Sport, Smiths City, and Stirling Sports. There are many different licences available including one day, whole season, family, and non-residents.

Experienced local fishing guides can provide invaluable expertise, transport, and often fly fishing tackle as well. Many local fishing guides make use of jet boat or helicopter to access spectacular remote wilderness, a fishing experience where the only footprints are yours and the wildlife!

Fish found in the Methven Area

Chinook Salmon or Quinnat Salmon

Chinook Salmon, also known as Quinnat Salmon, were successfully introduced to the South Island in 1901. They are the largest freshwater sportsfish available to New Zealand anglers, confined to several of the larger South Island rivers. The male and female of the species have different colouring. A large salmon may attain a weight of 15 kg or more however salmon of half this weight are more common. The spawning migration of chinook salmon usually begins in December or January and will continue through the fishing season with the peak of activity occurring about mid March.

Brown Trout

The brown trout is an introduced northern hemisphere sports fish and vary considerably in body colouration and markings depending on their habitat. Large brown trout may attain a weight of 10 kg or more, although a fish over 5 kg is considered a trophy.

Rainbow Trout

The rainbow trout was introduced from North America. It is common in rivers and lakes but not as widespread as brown trout. The adult “rainbow” is distinguished by its silver colour and dark olive green back covered with many small black spots. As the name might suggest, there is a pink flush along the sides, beginning on the gill cover and fading as it nears the tail. Rainbow trout are usually 1–2 kg in weight but in larger rivers and lakes, where food is abundant, they may reach 5 kg or more.

Brook Trout

The correct name for the Brook Trout is the Brook Char. The brook char is an introduced North American species and the most handsome of our coldwater sportsfish. The back and dorsal fin is marbled dark olive, the sides are covered in yellow spots contrasting with distinctive red spots surrounded by blue halos. Brook char are found in several inland lakes and streams. Stream fish are usually small but lake populations can provide good fisheries.

Didymo

Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) is an invasive freshwater algae which is present in some South Island rivers in New Zealand. Didymo is most likely to be spread by humans moving items between waterways.

To ensure you don’t spread didymo, wherever possible restrict equipment, boats, clothing and other items for exclusive use in one waterway.

Anglers and all river users must thoroughly clean all clothing and equipment that has been in contact with any river.

For more information on didymo read Fish & Game NZ’s About Didymo PDF Factsheet.

Didymo Sign - Fishing - Methven Mt Hutt Guide NZ

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Fishing spots around Methven

The below map & information should give you an overview of what fishing spots are located around the Methven area. For more detailed information please visit Fish & Game NZ’s website.

Rakaia River

The Rakaia is a large braided river originating in the Southern Alps. It is susceptible to rain in the mountains and can flood quickly. The Rakaia is home to one of the best salmon fisheries in New Zealand with good runs from November to March each season. The Rakaia also supports very good populations of sea-run trout in the lower reaches, and river resident trout in the middle and upper reaches.

Jet boats, drift boats and ATV’s are popular tools for finding places where salmon are resting.

Other than the Rakaia Gorge, a popular boar launching spot, access points to the Rakaia River around the Methven area include Lowes Cutting just off the Rakaia Barrhill Methven Road and Oak Avenue at Barrhill. About ten kilometres above the Rakaia Gorge the riverbed opens up providing good access, especially from Double Hill Run Road on the south side including Manuka Point, Glenariffe, Black Hill, and Whisky Stream. Kowhai Flat is a popular access route and camping location in this section of the river.

On the North side of the river Camping Gully just past the gorge bridge provides good access as well as the Lake Coleridge Power Station.

Trout fishing is also good in upper section of the river, particularly in pools containing permanent water and large boulders. A number of spring fed tributaries enter the upper reaches of the Rakaia which provide excellent trout fishing, irrespective of the colour of the main river.

View Fish & Game NZ’s Rakaia River brochure for more information on the river and access points

Rangitata River

The Rangitata River is famous for its salmon fishery. It originates high in the Southern Alps and is prone to floods and freshes from high rainfall and snowmelt, particularly from warm nor’west wind conditions that occur frequently throughout the main salmon season from November to March. However the duration of unfishable periods is usually short and good fishing can be experienced as discoloured waters begin to clear. The best upriver salmon fishing from January to March.

The Rangitata is also noted for its sea run brown trout early in the season.

Access points to the Rangitata River near Methven include Shepherds Bush Road and Klondyke Terrace Road located on the North side of the river, inland from the Inland Scenic Route 72. Both of these points require a good level of fitness to walk into. There are many access points of the South side of the river heading up to and around Peel Forest including Arundel bridge, Ferry Road, Peel Forest Campground and Kowhais.

Ashburton River

One of our smaller salmon rivers, the Ashburton River is popular with local anglers and visitors alike. The major salmon fishing area for this river is around the mouth but good fishing spots can still be found in the lower reaches of the South branch. Above the Thomsons Track intersection, and the willow lined Taylors Stream & Bowyers Stream are worth a look. The Ashburton Gorge Road off Inland Scenic Route 72 provides access to the upper reaches.

There are a number of side roads that provide access to the river off State Highway 77 between Ashburton and Methven that lead to left bank.

Ashburton Lakes

Nestled between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers of Mid Canterbury lie the Ashburton Lakes. This group of lakes is popular with anglers with a permanent fishing village situated between Lakes Camp and Clearwater. The area is reached from Mt Somers township via the Ashburton Gorge Road. At Hakatere Corner (23km from Mt Somers), the road branches; right to Maori Lakes and Lake Heron and straight ahead to Spider Lakes and Lakes Clearwater, Camp, Emma, and Roundabout.

Lake Heron

Lake Heron, 15km from the Hakatere Corner is the largest of the lakes and is home to good populations of brown and rainbow trout. There is also the odd landlocked quinnat salmon. Rowboats and canoes may be used to fish but beware of the nor’wester which may quickly chop up the lake. Maori Lakes bypassed on the way to Lake Heron is surrounded by wetland and raupo swamp. Fishing from anchored rowboats is permitted here.

Lakes Roundabout, Emma and the Spider Lakes

On the road to Lake Clearwater 5kms from Hakatere Corner, a signpost marks the gate and vehicle track to Lakes Roundabout and Emma. On the opposite side of the road 4kms from the Corner there is a track which leads off to Spider Lakes. A short 1km walk is necessary if the track is muddy. Fishing from a moored row boat is permitted on Lake Emma, however boats are prohibited on Lakes Roundabout and Spider.

Lake Camp

Lake Camp, 9kms from the Corner, is the only lake where powerboating is permitted. Swimming, boating, and water skiing activities tend to dominate but during quiet periods the odd quality rainbow often rewards angler effort.

Lake Clearwater

In comparison Lake Clearwater is a place of relative peace and solitude. This scenic lake with its picturesque fishing village is 10km from the Haketere Corner. The Lake is open to both fly and spin fishing. While fishing from an anchored rowboat is permitted, most anglers prefer to walk the lake margins stalking the cruising browns with polaroids and an accurate cast. To reach the northern side away from the prevailing nor’westers drive past the village about 2km to the head of the lake and walk from there.

Lake Coleridge

Lake Coleridge is the largest and most heavily fished lake in North Canterbury. It supports one of very few New Zealand populations of landlocked chinook salmon which are the most common catch in the lake. Brown and rainbow trout are also abundant although rainbow trout tend to be more “catchable”.

Opening Weekend (the first Saturday in November) is a big event with hundreds on anglers on the lake and lots of fish being caught. There are many well known fishing areas around Lake Coleridge. Ryton Bay can be reached by following the Lake Coleridge Road to just before where it crosses the Ryton River. A left fork in the road here takes you to Ryton Bay where the river enters the lake.

The top end of the lake where the Harper enters is reached by continuing up the Lake Coleridge Road after crossing the Ryton Bridge, past Lakes Evelyn and Selfe, through the ECNZ village and turn left after crossing the Harper River. The first right leads to a camping area known as “The Boat Harbour” from which access to the southern shore of the lake is easy. Park at the Boat Harbour, cross the walk bridge and head down the south shore of the lake. The Harper confluence is another popular fishing spot.

Lake Lyndon

Lake Lyndon can be accessed directly off SH73 just over Porters Pass. Access to the lake is excellent and good catches of rainbow and brown trout can be had. In the past the lake has tended to hold large numbers of smaller fish. Today there appear to be fewer, but larger fish.