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Buller River Trout Fishing

The Buller and its tributaries are one of the countries finest brown trout fisheries offering a diverse range of fishing for a large population of trout that often grow to trophy sizes.

View Buller River photos

Dove access map

View photos View maps

The WCO came into force in 2001, listing the waters of the Buller River and tributaries to be retained in their natural state or protected because of outstanding wild and scenic characteristics, fisheries and habitat features, and scientific values.

To read the full legislation document for the WCO applied to this waterway click here

Fish type Brown trout
Situation 1.5 hours from Nelson
1.5 hours from Greymouth
Setting

The Buller is 150 kms long emerging from Lake Rotoiti as a small but boisterous river and then flowing through open land for about 40kms before becoming a very large and wide expanse of water where the tributaries become the main focus of the fly fisher.

The middle and upper reaches are a delight to fish, having clear water, beautiful runs and pools combined with spectacular and varied scenery.

Maps

Upper Buller maps:
Access map
Access map with topography

Lower Buller maps:
Access map
Access map with topography

LINZ topographic maps: 1:50,000 (260 series)

Check conditions

View graphs at the Tasman District Council website of recent:
- Buller river flow at Longford
- Buller rainfall at Longford

View MetService weather forecast for:
- Nelson
- Westport

F&G pamphlet

Buller River access pamphlet  >>>

Upper reaches

The waters of the upper reaches from where the Buller leaves Lake Rotoiti are fast and turbulent, often with vegetation near the waters edge. They offer challenging fishing conditions due to the boisterous river and close vegetation. Rocks are slippery and can be very treacherous to the unwary angler. Care is required when wading in this section.

Though the river here must be treated with caution, it does provide excellent dry fly and nymph water for the experienced angler. Fish in this section are very numerous.

Fish numbers and size

In the upper reaches fish stocks are very high but average size is around 2-3 lb.

Access

Access to Buller is via State Highway 6 which follows the river for its length. Below the outlet from Lake Rotoiti access points are less numerous and more restricted often requiring pushing through the bankside vegetation.

See the Upper Buller access map, Lower Buller access map and access details.

Middle reaches

The middle reaches are much more open and gentle with good access points and provide wonderful opportunities for all types of fishing. The scenery is an added bonus.

The middle reaches are much easier to fish being over open land with good casting space and easy wading.

Fish numbers and size

Fish in the middle reaches are less numerous but average over 3lb.

Access

Access to Buller is via State Highway 6 which follows the river for its length. Many access points are well signposted.

Between Mangles River and Owen River is well worth exploring. Enquire at the nearest farmhouse about access, and to request permission and directions. and in other areas permission should be sought from the landowners to cross their property.

See the Upper Buller access map and access details.

Lower reaches

The lower reaches are wide and slow moving. While still passing through beautiful scenery, they are more suited to the spin fisher and not to nymphing or any fly fishing.

Fish numbers and size

In the lower reaches, very big fish can be found and numbers are high with fish of all sizes being present. The lower reaches are almost exclusively fished from the bank as water is deep and slower moving.

Access

Access to Buller is via State Highway 6 which follows the river for its length. Many access points are well signposted and in other areas permission should be sought from the landowners to cross their property.

See the Lower Buller access map and access details.

Recommended lures

Nymphs: In the upper reaches large weighted flies are recommended such as a Hare and Copper Gold Bead or Pheasants Tail (sizes 10 - 14).

In the middle reaches anglers should use smaller nymphs, especially during the warmer months when the river is lower and clearer. Again any Pheasant Tail  variant, Hares Ear or Stone Fly patterns in sizes 14 or smaller work well. Use weighted flies in the deeper or faster water.

Dry flies: Bushy large dry flies are best for the upper reaches. Any palmered fly that floats well in a size 10 - 12 works well.

In the middle reaches smaller dry flies are more effective. Any Adams, Greenwell's Glory or Mole Fly can be effective and during the early summer a Green Beetle or a Cicada pattern from late summer work well drung the day.

Wet flies: Small wets work very well during the evening when the fish are rising. Patterns such as March Brown, Dad's Favourite or Greenwell's Glory are all effective.

Spinners: Spinners work well throughout the river but are really the only effective method in the lower reaches. Black Toby patterns, Tasmanian Devils and bladed spinners such as a Mepps or Veltic work well.

Tributaries

The Buller has a number of major tributaries that are important fisheries in their own right. They are the Owen, the Mangles, the Gowan, the Maruia, the Howard, the Matiri the Matakitaki, the Inangahua River and the Ohikanui River.

Many other smaller rivers enter the Buller and these can be worth looking at early in the season. Where they enter the Buller can often provide excellent fishing, especially during the warmer weather as trout tend to congregate in these areas for the cool water and added food source.

Biosecurity requirements
Biosecurity Because of the presence of the invasive alga didymo in these waters, anglers must clean their fishing gear including waders and boots, especially when moving between rivers. See Didymo Biosecurity Alert for details.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Buller River upstream from Gowan Bridge
Region Nelson/Marlborough >>>
Season 1 October to 30 April
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Buller River downstream from Gowan Bridge
Region Nelson/Marlborough >>>
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (3)
Applicable to Buller River downstream of Lyell confluence
Region West Coast >>>
Season Trout: All year
Salmon: 1 Oct - 30 Apr
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit Total: 4
Rainbow trout: 2
Salmon: 1
Size limit (cm) None

 

 

 

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