HomeNelson – MarlboroughNelson Marlborough: Where to fishThe Tarns

The Tarns


The Tarns are a series of small lakes in swampy tussock country that offer the more adventurous angler a chance to stalk and fish to good size brown trout in still water.

Fish type Brown trout
Situation The Tarns are in the headwaters of the Wairau river via a private road. At the entrance to this section, anglers need to leave their vehicles and walk to the lakes. The closest, Sedgemore, is about 20 minutes walk with Bowscale and Island Lakes requiring about an hours walk.
Setting The Tarns are located in the headwater region of the Wairau River and require some walking from the end of a private hydro road. They are very exposed and at times wind can be a problem. Each lake is small and they are scattered over some distance. The larger lakes are named (Sedgemore, Fish and Bowscale) but even the smaller un-named lakes hold fish.

Access map

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Description These exposed lakes are ideal for fishing to fish that cruise in the shallows. Being very exposed, they are best fished during good calm and bright conditions. A remote and beautiful area that will interest the angler looking for a different angling experience.
Fish numbers and size Fish stocks are good with fish in the 3lb range with some going up as high as 8lb.
Ease of fishing If the conditions are right the fishing is easy once the angler is there. If the wind is blowing (as it often does) fishing is very challenging.

The Tarns can only be reached via a private hydro road through the rainbow or Molesworth station. Permission must be obtained first from the Department of Conservation at St Arnauds (phone 03 521 1806) or Doc at Hanmer (on 03 4157128). See the access map.

Recommended lures

Nymphs: Lightly weighted nymphs such as Pheasants Tail and Hares Ear work well in small sizes ( 14 or smaller)

Dry flies: On clear days with a light or no wind, fish rise readily to such flies as Black Gnat, Coch-y-Bondhu, Mole Fly or Adams. Otherwise use a larger bushy fly.

Wet flies: Hamill's Killer, Mrs Simpson or Muddler Minnows work well when fish just sub-surface.

Spinners: Not a great spinning area but try black or green Toby patterns or small bladed Veltic or Mepps patterns.

Applicable to The Tarns
Region Nelson/Marlborough
Season 1 October - 30 April
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None

Other fishing waters of the region


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