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Taupo Region fly-fishing
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General Information on fishing restrictions, trout species, seasons, weather, etc. in the Taupo area

Fishing restrictions:

Important - Felt soled boots and waders are banned in New Zealand

Lake Taupo and the river mouths are open for fishing all year round. Many of the rivers that flow into the lake are open all year round, except for restrictions on many upper reaches during the New Zealand winter.

These closures are usually between June 31 and December 1. This is to allow for spawning of rainbow trout, but it is very important to check your licence - dates do vary, even from year to year.

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There are over forty rivers and streams flowing into Lake Taupo. The other lakes in the area such as Otamangakau are open from December 1 to June 31.

Much of the fishing can be reached easily by car and, or boat. For more remote fishing, helicopter and raft fishing is readily available

There is world-class fishing close to Taupo, that offers the chance to present a fly to very big fish in crystal clear water, surrounded by forest and scenery the equal of anything, anywhere. But this is challenging fishing.

Tackle shops in Taupo provide good information and advice - but if you are visiting from outside the local area hiring a guide is a good option. This article does not attempt to cover this fishing.

The seasons:

Some months overlap because, well, weather makes its own rules.

  • Summer is December through March
  • Autumn is March through May
  • Winter is June through September
  • Spring is September through November

The Weather:

Lake Taupo is 375 metres (1250 feet) above sea level. Like most of New Zealand the weather is subject to rapid change on a daily basis, and wind is a major factor. Summer is usually warm with temperatures reaching into the high twenties (Centigrade), and beyond. But temperatures can drop rapidly in the evening and at night.

In Winter below freezing temperatures are regularly experienced. In all seasons rain can be expected. But rain is what makes New Zealand clean and green, and gives us great water for growing some of the world's best trout. Rain is a price we gladly pay.

The key factor arising from the weather, is to at all times dress or carry rain proof gear, and warm clothes. You can always shed clothes, but you cannot put on what you have not got.

The waters are very cold and vary only a little between Summer and Winter.  Waders made of newer materials such as Gortex are good for most fishing - but winter fishing will certainly require layers thermal clothes under the waders.

The hills and ranges around Taupo often get covered in snow, less often down to low levels. Hard frosts and icy conditions are a regular occurrence over winter. These cold conditions when combined with brisk winds need good weather proof garments.

On very cold days, in winter, using neoprene waders is advisable. Waders can be readily hired.

Remember, felt-soled boots or waders are banned in New Zealand to help stop the spread of Didymo (Rock Snot).

The Sun:

Many visitors to New Zealand, especially those from the Northern Hemisphere suffer severe sunburn, up to and including third degree burning.

We are very fortunate to have very little air pollution in New Zealand so the sun's rays hit us with full force. It is little wonder that New Zealand has some of the highest incidences of skin cancers in the world.

It is not uncommon to suffer sun burn even in Winter.

In Summer 'burn times', advertised on TV weather reports should be followed to the letter. Burn times of less than ten minutes are a very regular occurrence. This means pale skin will turn pink in less than ten minutes! A sun tan is no protection from sun burn, especially a Northern hemisphere sun tan.

Always wear a wide brimmed hat, long trousers, and long sleeved shirts. Cover exposed parts, face, hands and ears with a full sun block, at least SP30 rating, and re-coat with sun protection cream regularly.

The Trout:

Most rivers and lakes hold rainbow and brown trout, but rainbows predominate. There are Brook trout in a very few places, and I am not telling - life is short enough as it is!

18lb Rainbow trout from Lake Otamangakau

The annualised average sized trout caught in the region is 1.5 kg, (3.5lb.). The minimum size limit is 45cm (eighteen inches).

All the trout in the area are wild trout. There is no stocking.

Trout over ten pounds are regularly caught but are regarded as a trophy. Much bigger fish are irregularly caught in the region, up to eighteen pounds, but these fish are noteworthy.

In winter most rivers and streams see spawning runs of rainbow trout. Brown trout tend to make their spawning runs at the same time, but some browns will spawn during and summer and autumn.
In summer through autumn trout in the lakes and river mouths are found chasing smelt. This provides exciting fishing.

There is good dry fly-fishing to be had on rivers and lakes throughout summer and autumn.

Catch &Release:

In the general Taupo area Catch & Release is actively encouraged in all waters except Lake Taupo and the main rivers - Tongariro, Tauranga-Taupo, and Waihatanui.

In these waters fish populations are abundant and there is good evidence that without 'culling' trout populations build faster than the feed available. However populations do fluctuate and in times when fish numbers are slightly down, catch and release is encouraged in all areas. These waters are monitored very closely by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

Many of the fish in the Taupo area are in superb condition and the salmon pink\orange flesh is a taste delight. No-one should feel guilty about taking a fish to eat. But conservation by limiting your kill, not killing your limit should guide all anglers who choose to take fish.

In waters apart from those mentioned above most fishing Guides adhere to a strict catch & release policy and this is a pre-agreed condition of hire. This rule applies even to 'trophy' fish.

Other Anglers:

Fishing during winter in the spawning runs generates the biggest "crowds". But crowd is a relative term. The more famous, popular and nearby rivers and pools may in the peak times at weekends have six to eight anglers in a 300 meter pool. But there are literally hundreds of pools.

It is not uncommon to fish in even the peak load times and see no-one else.

Article written by Tony Bishop


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'Fishing Smarter for Trout'

My first trout fishing book Fishing Smarter for Trout is now up on this site and free to read. Includes regular updates and new stuff.
Read it here.

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