The top of the South Island of New Zealand offers many fine opportunities for the saltwater fly fisherman. Many quality species are available to be targeted on the fly. The top shallow water predator is the super aggressive Yellowtail Kingfish. They are present throughout the summer months (December > March). These can be targeted wading the large flats in the North Western parts of the Island. Also they can be tempted by fly around any structure such as reef or mussel buoys.
On the flats the best way to target them is to find the large stingrays as the Kingfish tend to follow the stingrays around to ambush their prey. Kingfish offer possibly the best sight fishing in saltwater on fly in New Zealand and the Nelson region has an outstanding fishery. Kahawai are available year round and pound for pound offer up a fantastic fight. They take surface flies like small poppers and make strong runs and jump often. A similar size to Bonefish but with the jumping prowess of a Tarpon.
On occasion Silver Trevally can be sighted while stalking to the flats for Kingfish. Like all Trevally these stunning fish fight until the bitter end. They are far more shy than their tropical cousins the Giant Trevally and prefer to take a crustacean pattern such as a crab or shrimp than a baitfish imitation. There is still much exploring to be done in terms of saltwater fly in the top of the South Island, species like Snapper and Albacore Tuna could realistically be targeted. So if salt runs through your veins take the opportunity to supplement your trophy brown trout fishing with a day or two of stalking the flats.
Anton Donaldson was one of the pioneers of the South Island flats fishery at Collingwood. He has spent countless hours over several years searching out hard fighting Kingfish in the shallows in Golden Bay. This fishery is one of the best flats fisheries that New Zealand has to offer owing to its 270 degree protection from onshore winds and its amazing clear water. Anton is the ultimate explorer and always has an eye out for fishing opportunities. He is also a very experienced trout guide in the Nelson region where he specialises in sight fishing for large brown trout.
Anton is a local Golden Bay resident and always has his finger on the pulse of the fishery. His knowledge of tides and where the fish will be at any given time is outstanding.Other species that can be targeted on the flats include Australian Salmon (or Kahawai in New Zealand) and Silver Trevally. There is a fantastic chance here to fish for big brown trout and then hit the flats and chase down a powerful Yellowtail kingfish. A combination trip encompassing both backcountry fly fishing and fly fishing the flats is completely unique.