Although there is much more to Southland than the xxxxxx river, most anglers invest their time in this river more than the others. Myself included.
Tourists generally bypass most of Southland in favor of more popular parts of NZ. As an angler you should endeavor to fish this region, for the fishing is quite superb. To the Englishman I'd say imagine the River Wye, but with a three and a half pound average and you have the xxxxxxx.
If you're doing that touristy bit: go and have a look at the Catlins - they're quite pretty.
Big big fish in the upper reaches. Good trophy water. Big flies and careful stalking in open country. Very exciting. Shapes that you think must be too big to be fish ('must be a log') generally are fish.
The estuary (and we have travelled a long way here... sorry!) contains some really large fish as well: probably searun. Try silicon smelt patterns or white rabbits.
Good fishing just above the xxxx bridge... when no-one's swimming in it!
Very strange place. Saltwater lagoon full of enormous fish! A ten pounder really is a small one, although official averages are only in the region of 6lbs. Smelt feeders. Worth checking out if you unfortunately find yourself in xxxxxxxxxx.
Due to the large catchment this river has, and due to the sort of land water has to travel through to get to the river (farm), the river can be badly coloured for much of the year. February through March tend to be the best months for this river.
I walked the entire length of this river from sea to source (about 150Km). I'd recommend it: it takes about ten days with fishing. One word of warning every fence is electrified, even the ones around the cattleless fields, and every bull is angry! Technically you can't really camp on the side of this river, but I did and no-one ever told me to f. off, so I'd recommend that too.
The lower xxxxxxx has not very much in the way of fishing, but what there is does seem to be big (I saw one real pig of a fish, a big double, but I didn't catch it). The best opportunities are in the backeddies. You can pick off your fish here.
The middle river is much better. Travelling up you will pass through xxxxxxx (nice stretch of fishing, very large icecreams in town - only shop I've ever been in where they ask you if you want more! Yes please! Worth a detour, in fact I go there just for the icecreams, NZ icecream is quite good and very reasonably priced. I tried making icecream a couple of times... but this wont catch you any more fish, also xxxxxxx has a cheap campground, with very few occupants).
Next stop is xxxxxxx town. Useful if you need to stock up on groceries and cooking fuel (you will need a stove for tramping this river). xxxxxxx icecream is much smaller than xxxxxxx's, but it's a bigger town. Interesting. The fishing below and above xxxxxxx is excellent. Nice smooth runs. Great rises, but if they're not rising you're better off walking or waiting it out.
xxxx has given itself the title 'brown trout capital of the world'. They have a trout statue in town which you can hook for a joke. Fishing above and below town is good, and much better when there's a rise. If you fish #16 duns you will catch these fish. If you fish any larger you will struggle. Most fish will take first time they see the fly. Problem is that they move around a lot when feeding so it sometimes takes a couple of casts. Fishing #16 lightly leaded nymphs in the runs, blind, works well too.
Above xxxx the river gets more remote again. The fishing improves as the access declines. The fish size increases too. Back eddies are always worth looking at. The river starts to become fordable which makes fishing and walking much easier. There are some nice pools for swimming in too (these things are important to DIY anglers).
Some of the best fishing on the river is below xxxxxx xxxx. However there is easy road access at xxxxxx xxxx and so the fish here are a little spookier. Above this we have a xxxxx.
There are some very large fish in the xxxxx, well ten pounds plus, which is good in my books (although downstream around xxxxxxx (I think) an 18 pounder was caught a number of seasons ago - not on fly).
Above the xxxxx the river opens out again and is worth fishing until you start to approach xxxxxx. Then as soon as you reach the xxxxxxxxx stretch (catch and release) you can go to the pub and have a well deserved beer!
If you (or anyone else for that matter) are stuck in xxxx or anywhere roundabouts and it rains (all the time) enough to colour the rivers and streams, there is a lovely spring creek just north of xxxxxxxxx. It is along a road called xxxxxx road and surprisingly is called the xxxxxx creek. It is clear pretty much all the time. I have rarely seen such fussy fish, but there are heaps of them, and easily spotted. (Alun Lovell)