New Zealand's favourite freshwater fishing spot revealed

The most popular freshwater fishing spot in New Zealand has been revealed, and it's not Lake Taupo.

The canals of the South Island's Mackenzie Basin attract more than a whopping 40,000 anglers a year.

On a crisp, clear winter's morning, the waterways are lined with people, rods-in-hand, trying to net the next big one.

"The last 18 months I've got seven fish [each] over 20 pounds, the biggest was just over 25," says angler Jeff Collins.

He's probably not lying.

A study by Fish and Game has revealed approximately 43,800 anglers visited the canals during the last season, catching a total of 44,500 fish.

Just under half had to be thrown back because they were undersized - but Fish and Game says there are indeed some very big fish being caught.

"We estimate around ten percent of all the fish caught, including salmon, are ten pounds or bigger," says Fish and Game officer Rhys Adams.

Christchurch fishing store owner Malcolm Bell regularly fishes in the canals and even takes tours there. He's not surprised by the results.

"I think in terms of that fishery, it's made a huge difference to the South Island, as we've got a lot of water issues," he says.

"I've been fishing for 35 years and it's certainly gone down in our local area, this is the jewel in the Crown."

And Fish and Game hopes this new data will help it ensure it is sustainably managed in the future.