Fishing New Zealand is up there on the bucket list of many anglers from around the world, however some struggle with the cost of doing so and go for the full ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) or ‘trout bum’ experience. This is not a problem in itself and most locals do condone it, however if your dream is to fish New Zealand, and do so on a budget, it is important to consider the following points to ensure you have a smooth trip and positive trip here.
1. Understand our methods
Unsurprisingly, fishing in New Zealand can be very different other fishing around the world. We have a wide variety of water types and sizes, with most having moderately clear to gin clear water. Much of your success will rely on your execution rather than luck. Your ability to read water and spot fish will go a long way to getting your line in the right place, but it is also very important to practicing your casting, especially the ability to rollout 12-15ft leaders, sometimes in strong winds. There are obviously many more techniques unique to NZ that are worth understanding before you hit the water, these can be found online or talking to a local angler or guide.
2. First – Hire a guide or fish with a local
Now I’m not just saying this because I’m a guide, I am mentioning it because even if you are on a tight budget, hiring a guide for even just one day can mean the difference between you having a successful DIY fishing trip or a mediocre one. The skills a local will introduce you to will go a long way to assisting you on your own fishing travels later in your trip. Whats the points in spending $1000’s on airfares to get here and then just chuck and chance your fishing success? Reach out to guides and locals and see where you can get help, kiwi’s are known for their friendliness and may be willing to help you or take you out on a guide day to learn the ropes.
3. Base yourself in a town, not on the river
One of the key issues with international DIY anglers in NZ is their tendency to base the majority of the trip on the water itself, sleeping, eating and shitting there. This is highly contentious with locals and should be done with care a consideration for the fishery. Multiple days spent fishing one river or piece of water can be detrimental, especially for your local kiwi who only gets his weekends to fish and turn up to find out it has been hammered all week by one group. By basing yourself in a local town, you not only have comfortable accomodation, you have more options of water to fish in multiple direction , giving you a wider variety of water and experiences. The key to all this however is you contribute to the local economy, which can be very important in our smaller regions with some towns relying heavily on fishing tourism. This option doesn’t need to be expensive either, many campgrounds offer tent sites or cabins from only $10pp with all the facilities and usually a local supermarket will provide affordable food options.
4. Understand angler etiquette
Nothing disgruntles a local angler more than someone that doesn’t understand river etiquette or common courtesy on a river. Considering the majority of our fishing here is an upstream method, never, ever start fishing in front of another angler. This ‘Jumping’ is intolerable, even if you are not seen. Depending on the waterway, where no accesses are marked it is best to give an angler at least 4-6km of river before you start fishing (this is up for interpretation by each anglers), or better yet, talk to them if you can and agree who will be going where. As mentioned above it is also important to understand that the river is for everyone, each getting a fair amount of time to fish it and therefore it is important that you keep your camping and/or stays in backcountry huts to a reasonable length of time, this time varies on the area and/or waterway and can be determined by chatting with a local or just some common sense. You can read more on NZ angler ettiequte in the booklet that accompanies the purchase of your fishing licence.
5. Be careful what you share with the world
We all love to share our experiences and show off our catch, I am known for this as much as anyone else. However the key to this is to be discreet. With the global reach of social media it can be great to show off your kiwi experience and show others whats possible if they travel to NZ, which we love you to do. However just keep in mind that the essence of fly fishing is the exploration. Keep your video and photo content discreet, try not to show obvious hints of locations, road signs and of course don’t mention the name of the river! This is in no way meant to prevent others from experiencing the same, it just means that like anyone else, you need to put in the effort to find the special places.
It must be understood that fishing in NZ is not easy, particularly in the South Island where waters can receive significant pressure from both international and local anglers over the key summer months. To be successful in NZ you must take into account not only the fish you catch but experiencing and respecting all that our magnificent country has to offer
So if your planning to DIY fish NZ, please be conscious and considerate of the above points and hopefully you will have a trip that you will never forget!