Catch a fish in Selwyn

Friday, 15 January 2021

Catch a fish in Selwyn

A great pastime, or a new fun activity to try with the kids, Selwyn is blessed with many options for fishing.  There are many beautiful fishing spots to explore around Selwyn and perhaps even catch your dinner.

Before we dive into some great fishing locations, it is important to note that you must have a fishing licence to fish in the rivers and lakes, and every location is slightly different.  The best way to comply with the up-to-date rules is to visit the Fish and Game New Zealand website.


How do you like to fish?

You will also note there is often a limitation on the type of fishing you can do at each site.  While this may sound a little complicated, here are the simple differences in the most popular methods.

Fly Fishing  

A special type of rod and technique where you fool the fish into biting what looks like a fly or insect they would usually eat.  Dry fly fishing has an imitation lure which floats on the surface using a floating line.  Nymph lures are under the water attached to a floating line and wet fly fishing has an imitation under the water with a sinking line.  Fly Fishing is common on moving bodies of water such as rivers but is also used in lakes and sea.

It is a much harder type of fishing to learn and commonly thought by connoisseurs as the pure way to fish.  It is a great style of fishing if you are keen on fishing for trout.

Spin Fishing

What laypeople may see as traditional fishing.  A heavier lure made to look like a food source sinks into the water (hopefully not scaring the fish below). With a cheap point of entry, a spin rod is affordable, easier to learn and uses a heavier lure.  A good all-round rod and a good starting point for families with kids.

Lake Pearson

Lake Pearson is a lovely hourglass shaped lake located on State Highway 73 on the way to the Arthur's Pass, about 15 minutes past Kura Tawhiti/Castle Hill.  If you are planning to make a bit of a holiday in the area, it is worth noting there is a DOC campsite here at Lake Pearson where you can stay for a minimal fee.

There are no motorised vessels allowed on Lake Pearson leaving you the option to fish from a dinghy or kayak, or from the shore. 

You are limited to catching two trout and two salmon per person at Lake Pearson and the two permitted fishing methods are spin and fly fishing.

Lake Coleridge

Lake Coleridge is a huge lake covering more than 3,500ha.  This high country lake is home to Chinook salmon, one of the few places in New Zealand where you can catch this fish.  The best places to access the lake for fishing are off Aldridge Road, at Ryton Bay or Harper Bay.

You are allowed to fish by artificial fly or spinner, but bait fishing is not permitted here.  The fishing season at Lake Coleridge runs from November to April.


Selwyn River

The Selwyn River used to be abundant in fish, but now you have to pick your location and timing carefully.  If you are hedging your bets, try your luck at the Selwyn Huts, where the river meets Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.  It has been known for large searun trout and you can fish here all year round.  The bag limit for this area of the Selwyn River is two fish.

The huts are just over 15 minutes from Lincoln at the end of Days Road, so you do not have to venture far for a fun fishing experience.

Rakaia River

If you have ever driven through Rakaia, you will have noticed the huge salmon in the township and this is because it is abundant in the Rakaia River.  Stretching over 60km, the Rakaia River has different fishing rulings depending on where you are accessing the river.  The river is also full of trout.

The Lower Rakaia River is perhaps the easiest area to access for families and runs from the Rakaia Gorge out to the rivermouth on the East Coast.  The best time to fish for salmon at the rivermouth is between mid-January and mid-March, whereas for trout, it is November to February.  Artificial fly and spinner fishing is permitted, but bait fishing is only allowed for trout fishing.  Limits are one salmon and two trout.

You can access the rivermouth from the huts on either side of the Rakaia River.  There is a campground at the Rakaia Huts in the northern side of the river which is budget friendly.

How to get started in Fishing?

The first thing you need to do is buy a fishing rod.  You can head down to the local Magnitude Sports store in Rolleston (near the New World) and they can sort you out with the right equipment

Purchase a fishing licence.  The easiest way to do this is online, or you can purchase at an authorised agent.  Kids under 12 years old are free for residents and adults can purchase a one day, part-season or full-season pass.  Do be aware there are different options for residents and non-residents.

Next, head over to the Fish and Game New Zealand site for all the basic skills you need to give you the best chance of taking home a fish for your dinner.

And if that fails, you can always check out Sovereign salmon for some unique and flavoursome smoked salmon instead!

Back to Articles