The Esk River is small and flows through hilly country over a shingle and stone bed. In the upper reaches it generally remains clear but environmental mismanagement by farmers in the area have caused it to deteriorate over the past two decades. Consequently it will colour up very quickly after rain and this has had a very detrimental effect on the fishing over the years as not only does it cause the fishing water to deteriorate but it also causes a major decline in food for the fish. When the river is clear however, both rainbow and brown trout can be spotted in the water and these respond well to both dry flies and nymphs. The best sections to fish are the middle and upper reaches.
Fish numbers and size
Low numbers with fish averaging around 1 kg
The lower reaches can be accessed from SH 5 with the middle reaches of being accessed from the Ellis Wallace Road which turns off SH5 at Eskdale. The upper reaches can be accessed from Berry Road (which is of Ohurakura Rd). Permission to cross farmers land must be sought however before fishing this section.
This small river is best fished by dry fly on nymph (with the exception of the lower tidal reaches which are best fished with a spinner or large wet fly).
An 8 1/2 to 9 foot rod and weight four to five line. Floating lines in neutral colours are best.
Nymphs: Small lightly weighted Hare and Copper and Pheasant Tail nymphs. Also try any pattern that has been tied with Peacock Herl such as a Theo's Bomber.
Dry flies: In the early summer as the river clears, try beetle patterns and from midsummer cicada and cricket patterns.
Wet flies: Small spider patterns fished down and across through some faster water can be effective especially in the evenings.
Spinners: In the tidal reaches use silver or black and gold Toby's. Otherwise very small bladed spinners of the veltic or mepps type.
Esk River upstream of Waipunga Road Bridge and all tributaries