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Howard River Trout Fishing

The Howard is an excellent small river that holds a good head of large fish that respond well to dry fly and nymphing. It fishes best early in the season.


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Fish type Brown trout
Situation 1 hour 40 minutes from Nelson: 30 minutes from Murchison; 10 minutes from St Arnaud
Setting The Howard river is a small tributary of the Buller. It is a lovely river to fish as it flows over mostly open land  and over a bed of stone and shingle.

Access map
Access map with topography

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

Check conditions View MetService weather forecast for Nelson Lakes National Park.
F&G pamphlet Buller River access pamphlet  >>>
Description The Howard has a good head of large fish that can prove very challenging to the angler. The water is usually very clear and trout are easily spotted in the long runs and pools.
Fish numbers and size There are good numbers of fish especially early in the season. Numbers drop during the warmer months as fish move back into the cooler and deeper waters of the Buller. Fish around 3-4lb can be expected.
Ease of fishing In its lower reaches the Howard is an easy river to fish as it is over open land.

The confluence with the Buller is reached on Highway 6 with most of the fishable section of the river being accessed from the Howard Valley rd (though always seek landowners permission before crossing their land)

See the access map

Recommended lures

Nymphs: Small nymphs such as Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tails and Caddis imitations all work well in sizes 14 or smaller.

Dry flies: Small flies such as Hardies Favourite, Dad's Favourite and March Brown all work well at all times of the day. Fish bushier flies over the faster water.

Wet flies: Small wets like Greenwell's Glory, March Brown and emerger sedge patterns work well when fished sub-surface. These flies are particularly effective when fishing the evening rise.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners (Mepps or Veltic) fished upstream into the faster water or through the deep pools are best for this small river.

Applicable to Howard River
Region Nelson/Marlborough >>>
Season 1 October - 30 April
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None




Murchison Lodge

Murchison Lodge

Triple Tui cabin

Triple Tui




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