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Waikato River Trout Fishing: Lake Taupo to Huka Falls

The Waikato River is the only outlet for Lake Taupo and in the upper reaches holds very large numbers of both rainbow and brown trout some reaching very impressive sizes.  This part of the Waikato River is managed by the Department of Conservation.

 

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Fish type

Both rainbow and brown trout

Situation

The Waikato River is New Zealand's largest river. As the only outlet for the Taupo catchment, it has a huge volume of water passing through.

The section of the Waikato River from Lake Taupo to the impressive Huka Falls is within the Taupo fishery area and the Taupo regulations   apply. This section provides about 5kms of fishable water though some of it is inaccessible to the shoreline angler.

See also the Waikato River from Karapiro to the mouth (Auckland/Waikato region).

Maps

Access map
Access map with topography map

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

Check conditions

Weekly situation report

Environment Waikato publishes a weekly situation report which provides an overview of river levels and rainfall.

Rainfall and river level graphs

View graphs of rainfall  and river levels for the past 7 days at the Environment Waikato website.

River flow

Phone Mighty River Power's information line on 0800 820 082 for:
- the Aratiatia rapids opening and closing times
- the river flow below Aratiatia
- the river flow below Lake Karapiro

Lake level

The flow from Lake Taupo into the Waikato River is controlled by Mighty River Power who use the Taupo Gates (located just north of Taupo under the State Highway 1 bridge) to maintain the the lake level within a defined range.

Phone Mighty River Power's information line on 0800 820 082 for:
- the current level of Lake Taupo
- the planned outflow from Lake Taupo into the Waikato River

Weather forecast

View the MetService weather forecast for Taupo.

Description

The Waikato is a large river with a very strong current. As its source is Lake Taupo, it is always crystal clear for the length that is within the Taupo fishery. Control gates just below the outlet from the lake control the amount of water flowing downstream and care should be taken as these open (usually in the early morning and evening) as the river level can rise very rapidly. There are limited shoreline places where anglers can fish so a small boat or canoe is recommended to take advantage of this water.

The easiest fishing is between the control gates (near the SH1 bridge) to the small island reserve at Cherry Island (where fishing is prohibited) though the number of access points to the river is limited. Below Cherry Island the river enters a steep-sided gorge making access impossible. The area around Reids Farm Reserve offers some access to the angler. Then below Reids farm the river flows very swiftly, and wading and the use of boats should be treated with the utmost caution to avoid a short (and almost certainly fatal) trip over the impressive Huka Falls.

 

From the Huka Falls to Lake Aratiatia

Description

From the base of the spectacular Huka Falls, the Waikato River flows into the small relatively shallow man-made Lake Aratiatia. From here the Waikato river meanders through farmland and forests before entering Lake Ohakuri near the geothermal resort of Orakei Korako. This section of the river provides excellent fishing, particularly around the mouths of the many small streams where they join the Waikato River. Many of the small streams also provide excellent fishing for those wishing to stalk fish in the crystal clear spring fed waters. The Waikato River in this section is mostly suited to wet fly or spin fishing or trolling along the shoreline from a small boat. There are a number of boat ramps along this section allowing those with small boats to access a huge range of water. There are a large number of places for the shoreline angler as well.

Access

There is limited access to the small Lake Aratiatia but below this lake there are a number points that allows the shoreline angler access to the river. These include Rapids Road just below Lake Aratiatia, St Kilda Road that leads off Broadlands Road, the Ohaaki road which crosses the river between State Highway 5 and Broadlands Road and Vaile Road. There are a number of good boat ramps suitable for small boats along this stretch of river.

See the upper Waikato River access map.

Tributaries

Joining the Waikato River on the true right-hand bank are a number of small, clear, very cold spring fed streams that hold reasonable stocks of surprisingly large fish. These include the Pueto Stream, the Kaiwhitiwhiti Stream and the Torepatutahi Stream (aka Deep Creek). While weed can be a problem in the lower reaches of these rivers they do fish particularly well during the cooler months when rainbow trout of up to 5 pound (2.5 kg) can be spotted and fished by using very light tackle. The streams can be accessed via Broadlands Road although they all involve some walking as well.

Methods Due to the very strong current and the limited areas for a backcast, the best way to fish this river is by spinning. To get to the fish however enough weight must be used to get the lure deep enough to reach the feeding fish. On warm evenings there can be very impressive rises allowing good sport for the dry fly enthusiast. This section of the river also has spawning fish in the winter and the same methods as on Taupo other rivers can be successful.
Fish numbers and size Fish numbers are very high and although fish average around 1.5kgs (about 3lb) many much larger fish are also present.
Access Several streets around Taupo lead to the rivers edge in the first 2kms of the river. The Huka Falls road gives access to the lower stretch above the falls. See the Waikato River access map.
Recommended lures

Nymphs: Very heavily weighted nymphs in the Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tail and Halfback patterns throughout the year and Globugs during the winter months.

Dry flies: Cicada and other large terresterial patterns in summer with beetle patterns working well in early summer.

Wet flies: Large flies the imitate smelt patterns such as a Taupo Tiger, Grey Ghost and Ginger Mick plus the usual Woolly Bugger, Red Setter, Hamills Killer and Mrs Simpson.

Spinners: Black and Gold Tobys, Tasmanian Devils and Cobras all work well.

See also

Waikato River from Karapiro to the mouth (Auckland/Waikato region)

Regulations (1)
Applicable to Waikato River from the outlet to control gates bridge (Taupo Boat Harbour)
Region Taupo fishery area regulations
Season

All year

Methods

Fly, spinner.

No boat fishing

Bag limit 6
Size limit (cm) 35 0cm minimum
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Waikato River from the control gates bridge to Huka Falls
Region Taupo fishery area regulations
Season

All year

Methods Fly, spinner.
Boat fishing from an anchored boat only
Bag limit 6
Size limit (cm) 35cm minimum
Regulations (3)
Applicable to The control gates over the Waikato River at Taupo
Region Taupo fishery area regulations
Season

Closed

Methods

Not applicable

Bag limit Not applicable
Size limit (cm) Not applicable

 

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