South Island

New Zealand’s South Island offers the best sight-casting opportunities for brown trout that you could imagine. The name of the game here is sight, stalk, and cast. Accuracy and presentation are key—if these fish see you, or you make a bad cast, it’s game over!! This visual style of fly fishing is exhilarating, and the chance to catch a pristine South Island brown trout weighing more than 10 pounds is a deeply rewarding experience.

While the average fish here weighs between 4-6 pounds, double-digit encounters are common. However, hooking and ultimately landing one of these behemoths puts all of your angling skills to the test. You’ll have to demonstrate ninja-like stealth when approaching these fish and make accurate casts using long leaders.

On an island packed with great fly-fishing options and quality guides the Nelson-Marlborough region stands out as a South Island gem. This area experiences less rain, more sun, and the most consistent weather on the island. In addition, this part of the island is dominated by beach forests, which produce seeds approximately every seven years. This phenomena fuels a plague of mice, which results in some of the most insane fishing you can imagine. Casting mouse patterns to these giant trout is something every angler should experience at least once.

On the southern end of the island, the Otago and Southland areas offer the most beautiful alpine scenery in the country. This region has a well deserved reputation for rugged backcountry streams with gin-clear waters. Trout here be gigantic as they face less pressure than those found to the north.

Careful trip planning is important here as the weather can be unpredictable and certain rivers can be un-fishable after heavy rainfall. Accommodations and fishing options on the South Island include fishing lodges, heli-fishing camps, hotels, and independent guides. Keep in mind, accessing the best backcountry fishing areas in the south requires multi-day hikes and/or helicopter.

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