2019 was a great season. 2020 could be extraordinary

April 20, 2019

By Felix Borenstein



I’ve been fishing New Zealand for 23 years now and operating the Lodge for 16 of them, so I feel reasonably well-qualified to assess the health of our fishery. And take it from me—I’ve never seen our brown trout in such great shape.

Even after our long, hot summer—one of the driest summers on record—the fish have maintained really good condition and managed extraordinarily well. That’s been particularly noticeable in our drive-to rivers, which are showing a great population of young, fit, fat fish.

It doesn’t happen very often but this season we had several guests who caught 8-10 fish in a day, all between 4lb and 6lb. The trout were super-fat, bulging with caddis, mayflies and cicadas. It’s like they’d all been in a feed-lot!

So we’re wrapping up the season in extremely fine form but wait—2020 could well be a record-breaker.

Could 2020 be an anglers’ paradise?

According to the Department of Conservation, across the top of the South Island we are currently experiencing the largest native beech masting (seeding) event in 40 years.

This is hugely significant for anglers because large quantities of beech seed produce an explosion in the local mouse population. As they travel further afield searching for food, mice take to the water—and get snapped up by hungry trout, who then grow massive on all that protein.

After the last major mast in 2014, we have a number of anglers landing a fish of a lifetime – right up to a dizzying 14 lb. And that mast was nothing on this one. So be excited. Be very excited.

There is a caveat to all this, however. An abnormally wet and cold winter will significantly dent mouse numbers.

I can’t predict the severity of our impending winter or its effects on the rodent population, but the likelihood is that there will be a mouse plague, they’ll run out of food, start swimming across rivers and be eaten by trout. And what I can say with absolute certainty is every other time there’s been a significant beech mast, we’ve had enormous fish.

So if I were a betting man, I’d be booking my tickets now.

Good news for our non-fishing guests; we’re always very conscious of giving our non-fishing visitors a luxurious, well-rounded experience and this year we’ve made significant investment in our facilities to support that. Examples include:

  • New, deluxe beds in all guest rooms
  • Air conditioners replaced in guest rooms and the Lodge building
  • 4G technology to improve guest room Wi-Fi access
  • Tripling the size of our vegetable garden to expand the quantity and range of our fresh produce
  • Establishment of a new cutting garden to provide fresh flowers

We’ve also recently purchased a Range Rover Vogue, so if you want to do a day tour with Kylie, you can be assured of being driven around in style and comfort.

Looking ahead

As our 16th season draws to a close, I want to thank all guests who chose to stay with us over 2018-19. I know I say this a lot but I mean it: you continually inspire us to excel, and we value your feedback, loyalty and custom.

On behalf of the whole team, I wish you good health and continuing success, and look forward to seeing you again next season.

Here’s to our wild, wily browns—may they grow ever fatter over winter!

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Awards & acknowledgements

Owen River Lodge NZ: “Fly fishing at its very best”

Ph: +64 3 523 9075 Address: Owen Valley East Road, Murchison, Nelson, South Island, New Zealand

Email: stay@owenriverlodge.co.nz