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Takaka River Trout and Salmon Fishing

The Takaka River is a beautiful river that offers a variety of prime fishing for large hard-fighting brown trout and for a small run of salmon that enter the river each year. However as the upper Takaka River was identified as affected by didymo in December 2007, anglers are asked not to use or fish the upper reaches upstream from Uruwhenua where the water flows underground in summer. (read more...).

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Fish type, number and size Brown trout (some sea run) and some chinook salmon in the lower reaches. Fish numbers are low but trout are generally large with a 4lb average weight.

The Takaka River rises in tussock-grassed highlands where it is fed by a number of tributaries and small lakes. The Takaka flows in a northerly direction from the Arthur and Peel mountain range for around 46 km across a variety of terrain. It exits at the sea just north of the Golden Bay town of Takaka.


Access map
Access map with topography

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

Check conditions

River flow

View graphs at the TDC website of recent river flow at:
- Takaka at Kotinga Bridge
- Upper Takaka at Harwoods

The river flow is variably affected by inflows from the Cobb hydro dam.


View graphs at the TDC website of recent rainfall at:
- Takaka at Kotinga Bridge
- Upper Takaka at Harwoods

Weather forecast

View MetService weather forecast for Motueka

F&G pamphlet Golden Bay access pamphlet
Upper reaches

The upper reaches are more rugged and offer more challenging fishing as the stream is much more boisterous and difficult to wade than further downstream. Be careful as the river can rise rapidly when the power station is in use.


Access to the upper reaches is along the scenic Cobb Dam Road. Please take your time and take care when driving this road as, although sealed, it is narrow and windy. Access can be gained to some good reaches of fishing water (such as below Sam's Creek bridge) from numerous points along the road. The access points 8-10 shown on the access map all have safe parking.

Middle reaches

The middle reaches flow over open farmland giving good fishing for many kilometres. During summer, the river between Lindsays Bridge and Paynes Ford can become very dry and low from natural causes. The river flow is also affected by the Cobb hydro scheme and by irrigation.


Public access is limited and if in doubt, please obtain permission from the landowner. See access points 4-7 on the access map and in the list of access points.

Lower reaches

The lower reaches are easier to fish and wide open spaces to cast from.

Two major tributaries join the Takaka River near its mouth greatly increasing its flow. The lower section is gentle and offers good fishing for low numbers of large brown trout, and also for chinook salmon in late spring and summer. Some sea run trout can be caught during the whitebait season in October and November.

A large pool near the Waitapu Road bridge (see access point 1 on the Takaka River map) offers good opportunities for spin fishing.


There is good road access. See access points 1-3 on the Takaka River access map and in the list of access points.

Recommended lures

Nymphs: Small unweighted nymphs such as Pheasant Tail variants and Hares Ear, Hare and Copper in the upper reaches and larger sizes of the same flies in the middle and lower reaches.

Dry flies: Cicada patterns are very effective from late summer and beetle patterns work well in early summer. Otherwise use small flies of the Greenwell's Glory, Royal Wulff or March Brown type flies. In the more boisterous water near the reservoir, use large visible palmered flies, especially in the hotter months when the river is low and very clear.

Wet flies: Small wets like Greenwell's Glory, March Brown and emerger sedge patterns work well when fished sub-surface. These flies are lethal when fishing the evening rise which can be quite spectaular on warm windless evenings.

Spinners: Small bladed spinners (Mepps or Veltic) fished into the faster water or through the deep pools or into the faster rapids are best for this river. Larger spinners may be needed in the larger lower sections of the river. As there are some salmon in the lower reaches try for these using flashier colours such as silver, red and gold patterns when spinning.

Tributaries The Anatoki, the Waingaro and the Waikoropupu River offer wilderness fishing for wild brown trout in beautiful surroundings. The Cobb River and Cobb Reservoir also offer fishing opportunities.
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 Takaka River downstream from its confluence with the Waingaro River
Region Nelson/Marlborough >>>
Season All year. Closed to salmon
Methods Artificial fly, spinner, bait
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Takaka River upstream from its confluence with the Waingaro River
Region Nelson/Marlborough >>>
Season 1 October - 30 April. Closed to Salmon
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit 2
Size limit (cm) None




Anton Donaldson

New Zealand Trout Adventures

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