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Opihi River Trout and Salmon Fishing

The Opihi river is a popular river with a reasonable population of brown trout averaging over 1 kg. There is a small run of salmon late in the season.

View Opihi River photo

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Fish type Holds brown trout in reasonable numbers averaging around 1 kg and small runs of salmon late in the season.
Situation

The Opihi river and its tributaries rises in the Ben McLeod and Richmond ranges and flows eastward to enter the sea near the township of Temuka.

Maps

Access map
Access map with topography

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

River flow and water clarity

View graphs at the Environment Canterbury website of:

  • the current Opihi river flow recorded at:
    - Rockwood (upper Opihi)
    - at SH1 (lower Opihi)
  • recent rainfall at Opihi
Description

The Opihi is a pleasant river flowing over a shingle bed and between willow lined banks.

Early in the season the Opihi is often clear when other larger rivers such as the Rangitata and the Waimakariri discoloured from snow melt.

The best fishing on the river is early in the season as it can dry badly can be reduced to a fraction of its flow from mid to late summer. At these times fish retreat to the deeper pools or lie under the overhanging vegetation.

Late in the season and particularly after there has been some heavy rain to increase of the water flow, the fishing for both trout and salmon improves markedly.

Access

There are a number of good access points to the river particularly around the township of Temuka.

See the Opihi River access map.

Methods

The Opihi is an ideal river for the dry fly all lightly weighted nymphs. Flies should be small particularly when the water is very clear.

Spinning is the favoured method when targeting salmon which is usually done around the mouth of the river or in its lower reaches

Recommended tackle Rods capable of casting a weight four to five are recommended. When the water is clear, long leaders are necessary. When fishing for salmon spinning rods capable of casting a 15 to 28 gram lure are favoured.
Recommended lures

Dry flies: Blue Dun, Parachute Adams and Coch-y-Bondhu early in the season and cricket and hopper patterns during the summer and early autumn months. Keep sizes small preferably 16 to 18.

Nymphs: Caddis patterns and mayfly nymphs such as Pheasant Tail and other variants, lightly weighted or unweighted in sizes 14 to 16.

Wet flies: Small wet flies such as Greenwells Glory, and soft hackled flies fished through the riffles and under overhanging vegetation

Spinners: Spinners are mostly used when targeting salmon with the preferred varieties being Zed spinners, large Tobys and Rapalas. Spinners need to be able to be retrieved close to the bottom and so need to be of a weight sufficient to get them down through the current. When using spinners put out small Rapalas that imitate a small brown trout or small bladed spinners such as Veltics (preferably in dark colours) are best.

Tributaries The Opihi River has a number of tributaries which all offer good fishing particularly early in the season. These include the Waihi River, the Hae Hae Te Moana, the Opuha River and the Tengawai River.
Regulations (1):
Applicable to Opihi River and its tributaries upstream of the Opuha River 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: 2
Salmon: 2
Size limit (cm)

Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum

Regulations (2):
Applicable to Opihi River and its tributaries downstream of the Opuha River 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: 300 mm minimum; 450 mm maximum, from 1-31 March.
Regulations (3):
Applicable to Opihi River below the SH1 bridge
Region Central South Island regulations >>>
Season 1 Jun-31 Aug (winter season)
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Total sport fish: 2
Size limit (cm) Trout: No limit
Salmon: 300 mm minimum; 450 mm maximum, from 1-31 March.

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