HomeWest CoastWest Coast: Where to fishWanganui River

Wanganui River


The Wanganui River is a good river to fish for sea-run brown trout and salmon in the lower reaches.

Fish type Brown trout (mostly sea run) and salmon from November to January. Good numbers of reasonable size sea run fish in the lower reaches. Some salmon around Nov to Dec and a few fish in the headwaters.
Situation 58 kms from Hokitika
Setting The Wanganui (sometimes referred to as the Big Wanganui) rises in the Southern Alps and flows west to join the Tasman sea near the remote Wanganui Bluffs. It is a big rough and boisterous river that is prone to flooding.

Access map

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Description The lower reaches are tidal brackish water and provide the most interest to anglers as they hold the largest number of fish though fish numbers are low. In the whitebait season (Oct to Dec) this area can come alive as the fish (many sea-run) chase these small translucent fish as they enter the river. The lower tidal reaches are relatively easy to fish.

The middle reaches are mostly unstable runs of rough water flowing through braided channels that are prone to flooding reducing the rivers capacity to hold good numbers of fish. The upper reaches do hold some resident fish but are challenging to fish.

Access Via State Highway 6 and then access the lower reaches via the Wanganui Flat Road which turns off at the small settlement of Harihari. A small road takes the angler some distance upstream from a road that leads of from the north side of SH 6 bridge.
Recommended lures Nymphs such as Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tails and Caddis imitations for the upper reaches in sizes 10 - 14 or smaller. Some weight is required to get the flies down through the faster water or to fish spotted in the deeper pools.

Dry flies: Not really a dry fly river but in the upper reaches try small flies such as Royal Wulff, Hardies Favourite, Dad's Favourite and March Brown.

Wet flies: In the lower tidal reaches use a slow sinking line and a fly such as a Grey Ghost, Parson's Glory, Dorothy or Jack Spratt for the good number of sea-run fish.

Spinners: In the lagoon area between Oct to Dec use silver pattern minnow type spinners such as a Toby or Cobra to imitate the shoals of whitebait that enter the river and are irresistible to the trout.

Tributaries While the Wanganui River has several tributaries, only one is of particular note and that is the La Fontaine.
Applicable to Wanganui River
Region West Coast
Season 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

Other fishing waters of the region


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