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Rules & regulations

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National Sports Fishing regulations


These regulations apply to all regions except Taupo.


The sports fishing regulations are set in law to ensure that:

  • Fish populations are maintained and that the number of fish caught do not threaten the sustainability of the fisheries
  • The quality of the fishing experience is maintained
  • Spawning areas are protected
  • Incompatible methods of fishing are kept separate
  • Anglers use sports-like methods

Words and expressions in this notice which are defined by the Conservation Act 1987 or the Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983 shall be so defined.

Artificial fly” means any lure of feather, fur, wool or other material of any kind customarily used in the making of artificial flies.

Bait” means:

  • Natural fly
  • Natural insect
  • Natural spider
  • Natural worm or worms
  • Natural crustacean
  • Natural fish (excluding fish ova, or any portion of a fish, or shellfish (mollusc)
  • Uncoloured bread dough
  • Any scented lure constructed of, or treated with, elements that have chemical attractant properties

Bait assembly” means either a hook rigged with a number of baits, or a single bait rigged with a number of hooks.

Bait fishing” means to fish for sports fish with bait.

Boat” means any manned flotation device.

Coarse fish” means perch, tench ( all New Zealand) and rudd
(Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game region only).

Coarse fishing waters” means named locations where anglers can fish for coarse fish:

  • with a rod which has either a fixed or running line.
  • with no restriction on the type or number of baits in use.
  • with no restriction on the use of preparations to attract fish.

Flyfishing” means to fish for sports fish with fly rod and fly reel and
fly line and artificial fly.

Fishing” and “fish” in this notice means:

The catching, taking, or harvesting of sports fish; and includes:

(a) any other activity that may reasonably be expected to result
in the catching, taking or harvesting of sports fish.

(b) any attempt to catch, take or harvest sports fish.

(c) any operation in support of, or in preparation for, any activity
described in this definition.

Foulhook” means to hook a sports fish other than from within the

Landmark” means a black, yellow and white ringed post or buoy.

Length” is the measurement from the tip of the snout to the fork of
the tail.

Lure” means any authorised artificial fly or spinner or bait.

Spinner” means any artificial lure other than an artificial fly.

Spin fishing” means to fish for sports fish with a spinner.

Sports fish” means those freshwater fish described in the First Schedule
of the Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983, namely:

  • Brown trout
  • Rainbow trout
  • American brook trout or char
  • Lake trout or char
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Quinnat or chinook salmon
  • Sockeye salmon
  • Perch
  • Tench
  • Rudd (Auckland / Waikato Fish and Game Region only)
  • Any hybrid of the above species

Rod, line and lure

2.1 No licence holder shall fish for sports fish except by using a rod and running line and authorised lure.

Nets and gaffs

2.2 Nets and gaffs:

2.2.1 When playing a sports fish, a landing net may be used to secure or land that fish.

2.2.2 For keeping coarse fish alive, a keep net may be used in the water from which the fish was caught.

2.2.3 When playing a salmon, a gaff may be used to secure or land that salmon in the Otago region only.

Assemblies and lures

2.3 No licence holder when fishing for sports fish shall:

2.3.1 Use more than 1 assembled rod and running line.

2.3.2 Use more than 3 artificial flies or spinners.

2.3.3 Use more than 1 bait assembly.

2.3.4 Be more than 15m from the rod being used.

2.3.5 Use in waters other than those where bait fishing is permitted any lure treated with any chemical preparation other than that used solely to control the buoyancy of an artificial fly.

2.3.6 Use any preparation not attached to a lure to attract fish except when fishing for coarse fish in coarse fishing waters.

Felt-soled waders and footwear

2.4 No person shall fish for sports fish by using felt-soled waders or footwear incorporating or having attached a sole of felted, matted or woven fibrous material when sports fishing.

Replace your felt-soled boots

Banned felt-soled boots


No licence holder shall attempt to foul hook any sports fish

Any licence holder who foul hooks a sports fish shall return it immediately to the water with as little injury as possible.


Every licence holder who catches a sports fish which does not exceed the specified minimum length, or does exceed the specified maximum length, shall immediately return it with as little injury as possible into the water from which it was taken.


No licence holder shall fish for any sports fish except during an open season.


No licence holder shall continue to fish for a particular species of sports fish on any day in which he or she has already killed the limit bag for that species.

It shall be permissible to make up the difference between a lesser limit bag prescribed in one place and a higher limit bag prescribed in another.


Authorised lures (subject to any regional restrictions specified in the regional sections) are:

  • Artificial fly
  • Spinner
  • Bait

Note that it is an offence to leave any fish refuse on lake or river banks. The Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 66 state that no person shall leave any fish or any cleanings or offal from fish, lying unburied on the bank or margin of any waters.


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