Published On: Fri, Apr 13th, 2018

Opawa River Trout Fishing, and Taylor River, Marlborough

Opawa River Trout Fishing, and Taylor River

There are some big resident brown trout in the Opawa River. Opawa River Trout Fishing.

There are some big resident brown trout in the Opawa River. This big 10lb brown trout was caught in the Opawa River on a Deer Hair Beetle by Jim Hobby.

Opawa River Trout Fishing. The Opawa River begins in the Wairau Valley and flows across the fertile Wairau Plains to the northeastern suburbs of Blenheim, leisurely meandering along, to finally exit into the large tidal lagoon near the mouth of the Wairau River. Though much of this small river is accessible to anglers, for the most part, it will require parking and walking. Most of the river flows across farmland. You must seek permission if you wish to access these sections. There are access points but roads don’t follow along its banks.

The Opawa River is sedate, slow and winding. Further upstream it is a bit more braided. The Opawa River is prone to substantial flooding following heavy rain in its catchment. For this reason stop banks have been built well back from the river’s usual channel to contain the huge periodic floods for which Blenheim was well known in years gone by. Rose’s Overflow is a wide channel cut across farmland from the end of Swamp Road to the lower Wairau River. As the name suggests it is designed to carry overflowing Opawa River flood water away from houses in a direct straight line to the Wairau River. The Opawa and Taylor Rivers are in the Nelson/Marlborough Fish and Game Region.

The Opawa River runs through the northern suburbs of Blenheim. Opawa River trout fishing.

The Opawa River runs through the northern suburbs of Blenheim.

This narrow Opawa River clouds to a grey colour following rain, as does the Taylor River, a small tributary of the Opawa River, but clears within a few days. The river beds of both these rivers are well weeded and full of aquatic insects, bullies, and eels.

Peter Shutt in his excellent book Fishing in the South Island – New Zealand (now out of print but definitely worth searching for), talks about some big trout being captured in the Opawa River; a 12 pounder shortly after the war; a 13 pound trout in 1983, and a huge 24 and a half pound trout caught in 1886.

Kayak in the Opawa River. This is a good way of accessing the river. Opawa River trout fishing.

Kayak in the Opawa River. This is a good way of accessing the river.

On a recent trip to both the Opawa and Taylor Rivers, I spotted several quite large brown trout. From a bridge over the Taylor River in the middle of Blenheim, I could clearly see at least five brown trout around 3 or four pounds. Later I saw a much larger fish further upstream under over-hanging weed. It emerged and took-off very quickly.

Opawa River.

The Opawa River in an urban section. The Blenheim railway station can be seen in the right of the photograph. This picture was taken after rain had clouded the river.

Sea-run brown trout are able to access the Opawa River from the lower Wairau River. There are some big resident browns in the lower river also. The Opawa and Taylor Rivers are not highly regarded, perhaps because they run through built-up areas, but they certainly do hold some very good sized brown trout.

Opawa River Trout Fishing Lures: Try spin fishing with small black Tobys, Zeds, and Mepps lures through the deeper sections at dawn, dusk, and after dark should prove effective. Though perhaps a small dark coloured nymph drifted over the weed, or lure like a Black Rabbit, worked carefully without lining the water should be effective. As you can see below Jim Hobby was successful with a Deer Hair Beetle dry fly. During summer these small rivers can become choked with weed making them a challenge to fish.

Opawa River Trout Fishing Regulations

Opawa River Upstream of State Highway 1 Bridge: Open Season 1 October – 30 April. Permitted Fishing Methods: Fly and Spin. Limit 2 brown trout.

Opawa River Downsteam of the State Highway 1 Bridge (including Roses Overflow): Open All year. Permitted methods: Fly, Spin and Bait fishing. Limit 2 brown trout.

Fishing Regulations for the Taylor River

Taylor River upstream of New Renwick Road Bridge: Open Season 1 October – 30 April. Permitted Fishing Methods: Fly and Spin. Limit is a total of 2 sports fish which may be both brown and rainbow trout.

Taylor River downstream of New Renwick Road Bridge: Open All year. Permitted Methods:  Fly, Spin and Bait fishing. Limit is a total of 2 sports fish which may be both brown and rainbow trout.

About the Author

- Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.

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