HomeNelson – MarlboroughNelson Marlborough: Where to fishSabine River

Sabine River


The Sabine is a wilderness river that flows through wooded mountain valleys and provides anglers with excellent fishing for a good population of fish, some of which reach trophy size.*

Fish type Brown and rainbow trout
Situation 5-6 hours walk from Rotoroa settlement or 30 minutes by boat or water taxi.
Setting The Sabine is a major tributary into Lake Rotoroa and is an excellent water for the more energetic angler to explore as it offers top quality fishing for large trout in a beautiful environment. The lower reaches are often hard to fish as they can be cluttered with debris brought down in floods. Upstream it is a wonderful river to explore and fish for large browns and the occasional rainbow. A track follows the river for much of its course and there are huts allowing anglers to spend some time experiencing fishing in a wonderful pristine environment.

Access map

Check conditions View MetService weather forecast
Description The Sabine runs through beautiful wooded valleys but still allows plenty of opportunities to fish for the trout that can be spotted in the clear pools and runs. It is best to move upstream as the lower section before entering the lake offers difficult fishing due to debris in the river and a difficult gorge area. In all however the angler has the chance to fish many kilometres of pristine waters.
Fish numbers and size Fish numbers are good with there being both rainbow and brown trout in the river. Fish average around 3-4lb but can and do grow much bigger however.
Ease of fishing A track runs along the river that any reasonably fit angler will be able to easily negotiate.

The Sabine can only be reached by walking from the small settlement of Rotoroa at the northern end of the lake or by boat.

A water taxi can take you across to the Sabine.

See the access map.

Recommended lures

Small unweighted nymphs such as Pheasant Tail variants and Hares Ear, Hare and Copper.

Dry flies: Cicada patterns are very effective from late summer and beetle patterns work well in early summer. Otherwise use small flies of the Greenwell's Glory, Royal Wulff or March Brown type flies. In the more boisterous water use large visible palmered flies, especially in the hotter months when the river is low and very clear.

Wet flies:
Small wets like Greenwell's Glory, March Brown and emerger sedge patterns such as Invicta work well when fished sub-surface.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners (Mepps or Veltic) fished into the faster water or through the deep pools or into the faster rapids are best for this river.

Applicable to Sabine River
Region Nelson Marlborough 
Season 1 October - 30 April
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2 (with only one fish exceeding 500mm in length)
Size limit (cm) No minimum size

Other fishing waters of the region


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