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Lake Okataina Trout Fishing

Lake Okataina is a large pristine clear water lake surrounded by native bush and holding large numbers of trophy size fish that can be caught in wilderness surroundings.


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Fish type Rainbow trout

Lake Okataina is in a remote, extremely scenic valley surrounded by pristine virgin native forest. There is only one road to the lake that provides access to just one bay.


Access map
Access map with topography

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

Check conditions

See the Environment Bay of Plenty website for:

- A report card on the lake water quality

- Lake use map and lake closure notices

View the MetService weather forecast for Rotorua.

F&G pamphlet

Lake Okataina info and basic chart (pdf file 113 kB)

Rotorua lakes fishery (pdf file 491 kB)

Rotorua lakes: Winter shoreline fishing (73 kB)

Boat fishing information (pdf file 256 kB)


Lake Okataina's clear water provides an abundance of food that ensure the fish reach very impressive sizes. The lake is very deep and has very cold water. There are a number of bays and long arms that reach into long wooded valleys. This is a very beautiful lake to fish and the quality of the fishing in a pristine wilderness setting is very special.

Due to its remoteness and limited shoreline access, most fishing must be done from a boat. A number of small streams feed into the lake, all of which provide excellent fishing opportunities, although again most can only be reached by boat. Where the road ends on the lake shoreline there can be good fishing for the land based angler. Those willing to walk will also be able to move around the lake shore to a few other bays. Fish are easy tosopt as they cruise the shoreline.


Fish numbers and size Lake Okataina is renowned for its large population of hard fighting rainbows that can reach impressive sizes. Every year many fish are caught that are well beyond the magical 10 pound mark (4.5 kg).
Access There is only one road in to Lake Okataina which turns off State Highway 30 at Ruato Bay on Lake Rotoiti. This road takes you to the north end of the lake where there is also a boat ramp. There is no vehicle access to any other part of the lake. See the Lake Okataina/Lake Okareka access map.
Accommodation Lake Okataina is a remote lake where the only road in stops at the lakes edge. The only accommodation on the lake is Lakes Lodge though the lake is a beautiful drive from other accommodation in the area such as the Duxton Hotel and Marama Resort.

The two most popular methods of fishing Lake Okataina are trolling and jigging. There can also be excellent fly fishing around Home Bay and the Log Pool in late autumn and early winter when the trout will often come very close to the beach.

Shoreline fishing is often best when the water is being disturbed by a light wind and the conditions are overcast.

Recommended tackle

The fish are generally found deep, requiring lead core line or a downrigger. As the water is also very clear, it is necessary to use a very long leader.

When jigging, use non-stretch nylon or fusion line to ensure the soft takes of the trout can be felt.

When fly fishing, use as light a line as is practical (weight 5 to 6 are ideal) as the fish will often become spooky if there is too much disturbance of the water when casting.

Recommended lures

Nymphs: Due to the depth of water it is necessary to use reasonably weighted nymphs usually in Hare and Copper, Pheasants Tail and Halfback patterns with a reasonable length leader. When jigging use smelt patterns though a Globug or muppit pattern can also be successful.

Dry flies: Because of the abundant forest cover down to the water's edge, a good supply of terrestrial insects land on the water throughout the year. Good patterns to try in summer include cicada, wasp and beetle patterns.

Wet flies / Streamers: Any smelt pattern such as Parsons' Glory, Grey Ghost or Taupo Tiger and palmered flies such as Woolly Buggers, particularly in green are effective during the day and dark patterns such as Craig's Night-time, Scotch Poacher or Black Marabou flies work best. Luminous flies are also popular on dark nights.

Spinners: The most popular spinners are Toby's, Flatfish and Tasmanian Devils, though when trolling many anglers prefer to troll a large smelt fly pattern in combination with a spinner.

Tributaries A number of small streams enter Lake Okataina but there are no real tributaries. The lake is also unique in that there is no known outlet and it is believed the water drains through an underground aquifer.
Regulations (1)
Applicable to Lake Okataina except the areas below
Region Eastern region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Jun
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Trout: 8
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum
Regulations (2)
Applicable to Lake Okataina winter shoreline area - from Te Koutu Point landmark to west of Okataina Lodge landmark extending 200m offshore.
Region Eastern region regulations
Season All year
Methods All year: Artificial fly, spinner.
1 Jul-30 Sept: Fishing for trout from a boat is prohibited.
Bag limit Trout: 8
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum


Julian Danby

Rotorua Trout Fishing Guide

VR Rotorua Lakes Resort

VR Rotorua Lakes Resort

Cruise and Fish


Hamills for fishing tackle Rotorua



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