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Cascade River

The Cascade River is a remote and challenging river for anglers providing fishing for a good population of brown trout in a remote and beautiful setting. This river sees few anglers though the fish remain hard to entice and are easily spooked by a poor approach or bad cast.


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Fish type Brown trout with good numbers of sea-run trout in the lower tidal reaches.
Situation The Cascade River drains the Olivine Range and flows generally north-west to enter the Tasman Sea approximately 20 kms south of the small settlement of Jacksons Bay. It is regarded as the southernmost fishery in the West Coast region.

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The Cascade is a remote and difficult river to fish through much of its length.

In the lower tidal section it is inaccessible on foot due to the swampy margins along both banks and so can only be fished from a boat. It does hold an excellent population of fish in this section especially early in the season when massive numbers of whitebait enter the river. During the months of October through to early January, fish move downstream to feed on the whitebait that migate into the river system from the Tasman. This section can provide exciting fishing with spinners and / or wetflies that mimic the small translucent whitebait that the trout are feeding on. Trout will be seen swirling around in a feeding frenzy at times and can provide very exciting sport for those able to get at them i.e. have a boat!

The middle reaches are over farmland (requiring permission from the landowners and a reasonable walk to get to the river). In this section the river flows through a mixture of open land and through bush and over a stone and rock bed. The water is generally clear enough to allow fish to be spotted and fished to. Fish numbers are good and tend to get better when the fish move upstream again after gorging on the whitebait in the lower reaches.

In the middle section, when flows are lowest in late summer the river can be crossed in a number of places. But beware, this river drains one of the wettest areas of the country and so can rise extremely fast if there is any rainfall in the hills. And beware the sandflies and mosquitos - they do not take prisoners. Venture into this region without industrial strength insect repellant at your peril!

The upper reaches are very remote and hard to access. The water however is generally very clear and the trout of a good size. This section provides pure wilderness fishing for trophy size brown trout in crystal clear water. A section for anglers who are looking for that special fish and are prepared to stalk and cast accurately to sighted fish. Fish numbers in the upper reaches are low but the size of the fish is big.

Access The river is hard to access though there is some access over farmland in the middle section. The lower reaches need a boat while a helicopter or a very hard walk is required for the upper reaches.
Methods The lower reaches are best fished with a spinner or wet fly while the middle and upper reaches provide good nymph and dry fly water.
Recommended tackle

In the lower reaches when chasing the larger fish in the tidal section use a rod capable of casting distance rather than for finesse. Fish will be seen swirling in the water as they crash into the whitebait shoals and stripping a lure past them is likely to induce a take. In the middle and upper reaches a 9 foot weight 5 -7 rod is ideal. For those spinning a rod capable of casting a lure of around 5 - 10gms works well.

For the middle and upper reaches we recommend that rods that can cast with some finesse yet be able to tame large fish in powerful water are required. Long leaders of 16 feet plus are essential and these need to be of sufficient strength to be able to assert some control on the fish when hooked. Flourocarbon is really a must. Whiloe spinning is legal we do not see this as effective on these most wiley fish.

Recommended lures

Nymphs: Dark patterns in the style of Hare and CopperColoburiscus, Pheasants Tails or Hare's Ear that have enough weight to get down to the fish in the faster water. Roughly tied patterns are best.

Dry flies: Bushy flies suchas a Grizzly Wulff or a Coch-y-Bondhu for the faster water and for the evening rise small dark patterns

Wet flies: In the lower reaches flies that imitate whitebait such as a Grey Ghost

Spinners: Silver or zebra toby patterns or any spinner that looks like a fleeing small silver bait fish.

Regulations (1)
Applicable to Cascade River downstream of Martyr confluence
Region West Coast

Trout: All year

Salmon: 1 Oct-30 Apr

Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total sports fish: 2
Size limit (cm) No limit

Regulations (2)

Applicable to Cascade River upstream of Martyr confluence
Region West Coast

Trout: 1 Oct-30 Apr
Salmon: 1 Oct-30 Apr

Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total sports fish: 2
Size limit (cm) No limit






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