Trout Fishing


Trout fishing in New Zealand generally has a season of 1 October through to 30 April. In the Canterbury high country the season opens on 1 November, however there is still some great fishing to be had during October in our rivers flowing out of the foothills about an hour’s drive away by 4WD.

Good fishing can be had throughout the season. October until December can be unsettled spring weather… however New Zealand with its oceanic climate can have weather of all seasons at any time of the year! Early January is when New Zealanders go on their annual leave, and during this period it is more likely that you could run into other anglers, or experience trout that are extremely cautious.

The average distance you will walk in a day is between three and five kilometres (two to three miles) on reasonably easy river stones. Often there could be a walk down a river terrace (40–50m elevation, 150 feet) at the start of the day, which often means a short walk back up at the end of the day. These walks can be steep in some locations, but there isn’t a rush and your guide will assist you where required.

If you have a limited walking ability, we suggest that you book during the months of October and November when the trout are still high in the catchments after spawning. It is easier for us to get you close to the trout at this time of the year.

Generalisations would conclude that:

  • The most trout are caught when the water is cooler - October to Christmas and March to April.
  • The best-conditioned trout are caught late season prior to spawning - end of February to April.
  • Surface activity is best in summer – December through March.
  • However - the water is cooler when the weather is cooler, the water is warmer when the sun stronger and the fishing conditions are most pleasant. Warmer water can make trout more selective. Sun angles in April are low, thus the days can be slightly shorter at each end.

Fishing Styles

The Grasmere area has both browns and rainbows, averaging around three pounds, with fish five pounds and bigger often landed.  The region is unique in that there are Loch Leven, Mackinaw and Splake trout to be found, each in separate lakes.

There is also the opportunity to fish for salmon during certain times of the year. Generally in New Zealand, trout fishing takes place on foot, walking the banks of the river with your guide in front, searching with trained eyes for each individual fish. Your guide will then explain the method you should apply in order to maximise your chances, and offer any helpful advice with your casting/presentation techniques.

If you are practicing your casting prior to visiting New Zealand, focus on first-time accuracy at short distances, into a wind.  This area is fairly open countryside, but your guide will find the most sheltered area possible on windy days.  Most of our fish are hooked with only 5-15 feet of fly line and a 9-12ft leader. Practicing long casts is a waste of time. Concentrate on subtle six-inch presentation variations, i.e. expect your guide to tell you to cast six inches to the left of the last cast!!!

An ‘average day’ would be that your guide ‘spots’ (locates) 12-25 trout depending on the weather and fishing conditions. Anglers in their first visit will normally have around 10-12 ‘takes’, hooking on average seven of these fish. The average number of trout landed per day last season was three or four, averaging four pounds. It is not uncommon to hook a couple of five to six pound fish per day and your skill level will determine your chances of landing those trout (and a bit of luck!!). Obviously our fishing and techniques are unique to New Zealand, and your ability to listen, learn and adjust your fishing style to suit plays a major role in the number of trout you will catch in a day.

An ‘outstanding day’ would be a combination of perfect weather conditions, with no wind or cloud, matched with a good, fit angler and good river conditions. A rising barometer is always a bonus! These are the days guides dream of, and the reason why anglers continue to go fishing day after day. The more days you spend fishing in your life, the more chances you have at getting ‘a outstanding day’. When these days occur it is not uncommon to hook around a dozen fish averaging closer to six or seven pounds, with the occasional opportunity at catching a large fish of up to 11 pounds.  There are plenty of opportunities for these days to occur each summer.

A ‘below average day’ occurs normally as a result of poor weather and a dropping barometer. Your guide may only find half a dozen to a dozen fish, and these fish may be selectively feeding or relatively inactive. The wind may be strong and your ability may be limited. These days do happen and getting a fish in the net can be a challenge, but we believe any day out on a river is a learning experience and you will be fishing in unique, stunning landscapes… and not sitting at your desk!

Location & Fishing Range

Clients can expect an average drive (includes four wheel driving portion) of one hour, and up to two hours maximum in the morning to get to the fishing location. Longer drives are often a result of bad weather conditions.

Expect to depart your accommodation between 8.30-9.00am and return to it between 5.00-7.00pm.

Fishing Guides

We recommend guides who are members of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association (NZPFGA) so that clients receive fishing tuition, guiding and equipment to the highest standards provided within the industry.

The guides are all current with the latest techniques, methods, personal delivery, first-aid and safety systems.


When fly fishing in New Zealand, the trout's own vision plays an important role. The water clarity and the natural positioning of trout in the river are factors that compound the need for you to blend into the local surroundings. Therefore to assist in your camouflage, all bright or light coloured tackle and/or clothing need to be replaced with dull, dark colours.

Backcountry New Zealand can provide all equipment for guests. Some people prefer to have their own lightweight waders and boots to ensure a good fit, and we suggest that these are brought with you. Generally clients wish to, and enjoy bringing their own equipment. The following information will help you prepare for your backcountry experience.


Preferably 5 to 7 weight. Long (8'6" upwards), fast action graphite. The modern three and four piece rods are excellent and, most importantly, are easy to carry on aircraft.  The guides use Sage three and four piece from Graphite III series through to the latest models in TCR and XP series. The casting is usually short range so we overweight our rods by one as a standard practice.


Floating in dull colors – Rio selective trout WF series are excellent lines. Dull lines avoid line flash over the trout and are essential in clear water fishing for wild brown trout.


0x to 3x 9' to 12' (Rio, Cortland, Umpqua, Tippet 3x to 7x (Fluorocarbon).



Any brand with good disk drag and 100m of backing.

Dry Flies - (in sizes 10-16)

Adams, Kakahi Queen, Twilight Beauty (try dark and light Cahill for North American anglers), dark elk hair caddis, cicada (Joe's hopper in green), Black Gnat blowfly pattern, Humpy (green / yellow / black).



Nymphs - (heavily weighted tungstens in sizes 10 to 16)

Hare and Copper, Hare's ear, Prince, Sawyer (all the above in their various versions are fine), and in sizes 8-12 Stonefly (green and brown).

Essential Clothing

Coloured clothing

Dark, natural colors i.e. Browns, darker greys, greens, camo etc. No bright clothes or hats.


Columbia fishing clothing is great, otherwise try long-sleeved brushed cotton or lighter weight, in darker colours.


It is good to bring a polypro or Merino top to wear under the shirt against the skin because it can get very cold at times. Merino apparel tops are available to purchase from the Grasmere shop. Bring a fleece jacket for when it could get really cold. Polypro or Merino leggings are a good alternative to trousers and waders, for those who don’t mind getting their feet wet.

Rain Jacket

This is compulsory!! Remember dark coloured Jackets are best, and need to be very waterproof.

Polarised sunglasses

These will let you see the fish. Backcountry has two spare pairs, as well as a pair of clip-on Polaroids that you are able to attach to prescription glasses.

Sun Hat

Dark or tan with a wide all-round brim to protect from the sun.


Water resistant and minimum SPF15+. We have strong sun in NZ!


A small daypack between the two of you can be helpful. (Please not pink or white... it does happen sometimes!), and pack your insect repellent.