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Where to Fish for Trout in the Taupo/Turangi Region

There is no doubt that Lake Taupo and its tributaries is one of the world's premier fishing destinations. From the late 1800s to the present day, Lake Taupo and the tributary rivers such as the Tongariro, Tauranga-Taupo and Waitahanui, provide anglers of all levels and skill the chance to capture a fish of a lifetime. That much of this region is open all year is an added bonus. Some areas are closed during the winter however and it is important to check the regulations before fishing any water in this region.

Lake Taupo itself provides excellent boat fishing and shoreline fishing throughout the year. All the rivers hold resident populations of both brown and rainbow trout and in the winter months there are huge spawning runs occur with literally tens of thousands of fish moving up the rivers to spawn. Many regard this as the prime time to fish this region.

Turangi claims the title of the trout fishing capital of the world and with over 30 rivers within an hour's drive, the choice of fishing water is huge.

What is special about this region

Lake Taupo is a large, very clean cold lake that provides excellent habitat for a huge population of both brown and rainbow trout. A number of large rivers feeding the lake are major spawning waters for mature fish each winter. In this region the numbers of fish caught each year number in the many many thousands and during a good season will average well over 2 kg. Trophy sized fish of over 4.5 kg or 10 pounds are regularly caught.

Taupo/Turangi fishing

Summer (January to March)
In the summer months from January to March, the fish on the lake tend to go deeper during the day to avoid the hot bright weather. Most are caught by trolling a deeply sunk lure. During the evenings there can be an excellent rise on some of the rivers and on a dark night, any small stream or river mouth can provide excellent and exciting fishing as the large fish come close to shore.

During the summer, there is great boat fishing on Lake Taupo and superb dry fly fishing in the many rivers and streams of the central North Island region.  Mid November to end of March is the best time for dry fly fishing on the evening rise, while in February the cicada hatch makes for good fishing.

  Autumn (April to June)

In the autumn the fish start to congregate around the river mouths preparing for the spawning runs. While the fish can be caught from a boat using almost any legal method, there is excellent shoreline fishing especially around stream mouths around this time.

Winter (July to September)
During the winter months huge numbers of large trout enter all the rivers and make their way upstream to spawn. This is the premier fishing time for the region as trout that enter the rivers are in prime condition. July to September are traditionally the best months for spawning runs and are usually the busiest months with the most anglers on the waters. In recent years October has been very good too as spawning runs become more spread out.

Fly fishing the eastern tributaries such as the Tongariro, Tauranga-Taupo, Hinemaiaia and Waitahanui, mostly for rainbow trout, provides the fishing challenge. These rivers are very popular and, if you are to enjoy your fishing there, it is vital to be aware of the fishing etiquette that applies.

Note that the upper parts of the rivers are closed from 1st June to 30th November to protect the trout while they are spawning.

  Spring (October to December).

In the spring there is excellent shoreline fishing and river fishing. The main food of the trout in the lake is a small fish known as a smelt. The smelt spawn along the lake shore from October onwards and a large trout will often come in very close chasing them. There can be excellent shoreline and boat fishing at this time. There is also excellent nymph and dry fly fishing for resident fish within the river particularly late and spring

Methods

For any angler wishing to catch a fish, the surest method is by trolling on the lake. There are a number of charter boats and guides available that know where to go and how to put clients onto fish.

Anglers visiting New Zealand during the winter months (May to September) will find exciting fishing on the rivers that feed the Lake Taupo. The rivers are fly fishing only and during the winter months anglers will need heavy equipment to ensure their flies (whether these be nymphs or wet flies) get down quickly through the very strong current. And it is also important to note that not all waters are open during the winter months. Be sure to check the regulations before fishing.

During the warmer months (October to April), anglers are spoilt for choice. There is literally something to suit every level of ability and style of fishing. Guides are recommended for those people wishing to get into wilderness and back country fishing as there are a number of high-quality waters off the beaten track that require local expertise and knowledge to get to.

Do not forget some of the other lakes in the district such as Lakes Kuratau, Otamangakau and Rotoaira which have their own special characteristics and charm. These lakes are often much less crowded than Lake Taupo but still provide fishing of the highest quality. Lakes Otamangakau and Rotoaira were both chosen as venues for the 2008 World Fly Fishing Championships while Kuratau was chosen for the 2009 Oceania Fly Fishing Championship competition.

Children: Children are taught to cast a flyrod and catch a trout at  the Children's Fishing Pond in Turangi on specific days between April and September. Bookings are required.

Taupo licence

The Taupo fishery area is managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC).

A special licence is required to fish in the Taupo region. (Fish & Game licences are not valid in the Taupo area).

A map showing the boundaries of the Taupo fishing region is displayed on the DOC website.

Taupo fishing licences can be obtained from licence agents in many North Island New Zealand towns and cities. A full list of Taupo licence agents is available at the Department of Conservation website. The licence is not valid unless made out in your name and signed by you. You must carry it with you when fishing.

The cost of all Taupo licences is also available at the Department of Conservation website.

Lake Rotoaira permit

A separate entry permit is required to fish Lake Rotoaira. See Lake Rotoaira for details.

Boat ramp permit

A current Lake Taupo boat ramp permit is required before using public launching ramps on the lake, but is not needed for lauching small craft from the beach. The permits are available for a day, a week or a year from fishing licence sellers. Regular checks are carried out at public boat ramps.

Taupo regulations

The regulations that apply to the Taupo district are different to those that apply elsewhere and you must be aware of them before you fish there. See Taupo regulations.

Fishing etiquette

Because of the popularity of the Taupo/Turangi fishery, the preferred fishing locations are very often shared with other anglers. A common code of practice or fishing etiquette gives everyone a reasonable oportunity fish and catch trout and avoids conflict. See Fishing etiquette.

Department of Conservation brochures

Copies of the following brochures can be requested (email fishinfo@doc.govt.nz) or picked up from DOC's Turangi office.

- Hooked: Releasing trout so they survive

- Trolling: Tips for boat fishing Lake Taupo

- Angling Manners: Understanding fishing in the Taupo Region

- Map of the Tongariro River

Deparment of Conservation contact details

Contact details are:

Taupo Fishery Area
Private Bag,
Turanga Place,
Turangi

Phone: +64 7 386 8607
Fax: +64 7 386 7086
Fishery Duty Officer: 027 290 7758

Email: fishinfo@doc.govt.nz
Web: Taupo fishery pages at the DOC website

 

 

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