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Ashburton River

The Ashburton River is a popular trout fishing water for a good population of brown trout as well as having reasonable runs of salmon from January through to April.

 

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Fish type Brown trout averaging just under 1 kg and small runs of salmon in the late summer and early autumn, particularly after a good rain has increased the river flow.
Situation The Ashburton River rises in the Arrowsmith ranges of the Southern Alps and flows eastwards, firstly through a gorge then across the Canterbury Plains to enter the sea just south east of Ashburton town.
Maps

Ashburton River including the North Branch:

Access map

Topographic map

South Branch and Ashburton lakes:

Access map

Access map with topography

LINZ topographic maps: 1:50,000 (260 series)

Description

The Ashburton River is snow fed and so can be silt laden during the early part of the season. The river from a point just upstream from the township of Ashburton consists of two separate branches. The South branch offers the most consistent fishing throughout the year as it has the more stable water flow. The north branch is prone to drying during the hot summer months, particularly after water is taken for irrigation. While the river can often be quite cloudy and dirty early in the season, the water is generally very clear from early summer through to the end of the season.

The river mostly runs over a shingle beaded and is easily waded. There is good bank side cover of willows, scrub and gorse, particularly in the lower reaches. The water is generally very clear and fish are easily sighted in the pools and riffles on clear days. In the southern section below the confluence of the two branches, there can be an excellent evening rise on warm evenings.

During the drier summer months, the river flow can diminish dramatically and during these conditions fishing can be very challenging, particularly during the day. Extreme caution is required as the water tends to be crystal clear and the fish very spooky.

The major salmon fishing area is around the mouth and in the lower reaches. The salmon congregate around the mouth waiting for the river flows to increase after rain before making a run upstream to spawn. The best times to fish for these feisty fish is from late January through to mid to late April.

Access

There are good access points from roads that run almost the entire length of the Ashburton River. State Highway one crosses the river at Ashburton with State Highway 72 crossing at Mount Somers. From Mount Somers the Ashburton Gorge Road 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 the true left bank.

The river mouth is easily reached by roads on either bank.

See the Ashburton River access map and also the Ashburton lakes access map which shows the South Branch.

Methods

The Ashburton River is ideally suited to dry fly and nymph fishing for the good population of brown trout. Small wet flies are also useful particularly in the evenings or when fishing riffles.

Salmon fishing requires much heavier equipment and spinning is the favoured method where a large heavy spinner is cast across the current and then allowed to sweep round and then retrieved. Lures need to be deeply sunk to be successful.

Recommended tackle

Light rods capable of casting a weight four to five line and long light tippets when fishing for the good population of brown trout are recommended. During the warm summer months, the lighter the equipment used the better.

When fishing for salmon much heavier tackle is required however and the preferred method is to use a seven to 8 foot rod capable of casting a spinner of between 15 to 30 g. It is necessary to get spinner is close to the stream bed as possible

Recommended lures

Dry flies: Small Parachute Adams, Blue Dun, Humpys, Royal Wulff in sizes 14 to 18 (and even smaller during the height of summer). During the summer months also try blow fly patterns and hopper and cricket limitations when fishing during the day. During the late summer cicada patterns can also be very effective.

Nymphs: Small either unweighted or very lightly weighted nymphs in sizes 14 to 18 and pattern such as Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tail and Halfbacks.

Wet flies: Small wet flies fished during the evening rise can be particularly effective. Try patterns such as a sparsely tied Black and Peacock, Hardies Favourite or a spider pattern.

Spinners: When fishing for salmon try large Zed Spinners, Rapalas and Toby patterns in sizes 15 g or greater.

Tributaries There are a number of tributaries which can provide good fishing particularly early or late in the season.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Ashburton River North Branch and tributaries
Region Central South Island regulations
Season

Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr

Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar

Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit

Trout: 2

Salmon:2

Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit

Salmon: Minimum 300 mm

Regulations (2)
Applicable to Ashburton River South Branch and tributaries upstream of Taylors Stream junction
Region Central South Island regulations
Season

Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr

Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar

Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit

Trout: 2

Salmon:2

Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit

Salmon: Minimum 300 mm.

Regulations (3)
Applicable to Ashburton River downstream of Taylors Stream junction
Region Central South Island regulations
Season

Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr

Salmon: 1 Oct-31 Mar

Methods Artificial fly, spinner. bait
Bag limit Trout: 4
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit

Salmon: Minimum 300 mm

Regulations (4)
Applicable to Ashburton River downstream of the SH1 bridge
Region Central South Island regulations
Season 1 Jun-31 Aug (winter season)
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Sports fish: 2
Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit

Salmon: Minimum 300 mm

 

Rakaia River Holiday Park

Rakaia River Holiday Park

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