Published On: Tue, Jan 27th, 2015

Waiau River Salmon and Trout Fishing – North Canterbury

Waiau River, North Canterbury.Waiau River

The Waiau River mouth is some 18 kilometres to the north east of the Hurunui River mouth. The River marks the northern boundary of Canterbury ‘s tremendous wild searun salmon fishery. The river does have good salmon runs but these tend to be sparodic. Water abstraction for farming has lowered the mid-summer river flows not helping the fishing at all.

Salmon caught in the Waiau River, North Canterbury.

Andy Black with a big 11.9 kg salmon taken from the Waiau River.

Access to the river for approximately 5kms either side of State Highway One at Spotswood is quite good. Access downstream of Waiau East Road down to the mouth is a problem unless you have a jet boat. With a jet boat the ride from Waiau East Road to the mouth takes only about ten minutes or so.

River access upstream of Leamington Road is also difficult as there are no road access points. A Four-wheel-dive vehicle is a definite advantage if you want to avoid a good deal of walking to good casting spots.

Many Canterbury anglers like to fish for salmon at river mouths. Unfortunate topography including a narrow gorge in the lower river and complete absence of road access makes fishing the Waiau River mouth the preserve of the jet boat equipped angler.

Bag Limits Eastern Zone

In the Eastern Zone below the Hope River confluence fishing is permitted all year with a limit of 2 trout and 2 salmon.

Natural bait fishing for trout is permitted in the Eastern Zone only. Bait fishing is only permitted in the Eastern Zone between 1 October and 30 April.

Wairau River Mouth

The Waiau River marks the northern boundary of Canterbury’s tremendous wild searun salmon fishery. Generally speaking few Christchurch salmon anglers fish the Waiau River. Locals from the Cheviot area are at a definite advantage when it comes to awareness of recent salmon runs.

Other than by crossing privately owned farmland (for which you must obtain permission from the land-owner) the mouth of the Waiau River can only be accessed by jet boat. It is however a relatively short trip by jet boat from the State Highway One Bridge down stream to the mouth.

Above: Waiau River Mouth - Sourced from NZTopo50-BU26. Crown Copyright Reserved. On both maps one blue square represents one square kilometre.

Above: Waiau River Mouth – Sourced from NZTopo50-BU26. Crown Copyright Reserved. On both maps one blue square represents one square kilometre.

Waiau River at Spostwood - Sourced from NZTopo50-BU26. Crown Copyright Reserved.

Waiau River at Spostwood – Sourced from NZTopo50-BU26. Crown Copyright Reserved.

Few Christchurch salmon anglers bother to make the 135km journey north to fish the Waiau River, especially as they would have to cross the Waimakariri and Hurunui Rivers on the way!

Bag Limits Western Zone

There is a one trout limit in the Western Zone above the Hope River confluence between 1 October to 30 April. You are not permitted to take salmon from the Hurunui River in the Western Zone at all. Any trout longer than 400mm caught in the Waiau River or its tributaries upstream of the Hope River confluence must be released unharmed back into the river.

Here is an excellent short video clip showing travel by jet boat to the Waiau River mouth together with salmon fishing both in the surf and the gut.

About the Author

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Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.

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