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Tackle for Taupo River
Stream Mouths

General tackle guide for fishing the stream and river mouths around Lake Taupo

The river and stream mouths that enter Lake Taupo, and there are forty two of them, provide superb fishing throughout the year.

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In Summer brown and rainbow trout chase right into the mouths feeding on smelt. Rainbow trout will feed throughout the day, although the bigger fish and greater numbers are usually found at night.

Brown trout are usually found at night, usually late at night.

( For further information on night fishing see two articles published in the New Zealand Fishermen magazine, Night Moves, and Night Moves II.)

During Winter (May-Aug) rainbow trout concentrate at river mouths prior to making their spawning runs.

Most of the river mouths consist of a 'fan' of pumice sand extending for some distance out into the lake. The outer edge of the fan, where the edge of the sand fan drops into the deeper water of the lake fish is called the 'lip'.

On some of the smaller rivers and streams this lip or drop-off may be only less than one metre, but on some rivers the lip may be 30 or more metres.

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At most rivers it is possible to wade out in less than waist deep water to the very edge of the rip.

But on some river mouths, the Tongariro, Tauranga-Taupo, and Waimarino, this is extremely dangerous. As you near the edge of the drop-off the sand becomes soft, and just as on a dry sand-dune, all of a sudden the sand can slip away under your feet, and from there the only way is down.

No-one should contemplate fishing a river mouth for the first time unless they are accompanied by someone who knows the mouth, or there are anglers already fishing.

There are three main methods of fishing river mouths:


Floating line with long leader, 4 meters (12 feet) of leader or more, to one or two smelt imitation flies:
For Day: Rabbits, Matukas, Green Orbits, Red Setters, Silicone Smelts and Woolly Buggers.
For Night: Silicone Smelts with luminous core, any luminous fly behind virtually any black fly, especially one with black marabou or rabbit.


Sinking Line, fast to intermediate, depending on depth and current, with short 1 to 2 metre (3 to 6 feet) leader with imitation smelts as above.


Fast sinking shooting head with Booby flies. For further information see article, Booby Flies.

For most New Zealanders the basic rod for lake fishing is an eight to nine weight. You need to be able to throw a line some distance, and often in windy conditions.

Personally I think this is overkill, and routinely use a six weight, but there are times when a bigger rod is needed, and that time is when it is blowing hard. It should be remembered that most locals are fishing for the pot, and the notion of sport fishing is does not enter their equation.

fishing the rip at sunset, and God is in the house!


Fishing the "rip" (the current formed by a river or stream entering a lake) as it is known in New Zealand can be somewhat crowded by New Zealand standards. Up to 10 to 15 people lined up across a river mouth. But this is unusual and only on the most popular, read 'accessible', rivers.

The etiquette is simple, the first in the rip gets the best position, the second the next best and so on.

If one person in the rip catches a fish and moves out to land it the anglers on either side of where that angler was standing should 'guard' his place.

Moving into a hole in the line of anglers without asking 'permission' from the anglers on either side of that hole is asking for trouble.

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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