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If you are looking for that trout of a lifetime, then Rotorua is one of those places in the world that will entice you with it's lakes, rivers and crystal spring fed streams. Rotorua has 14 lakes, Their shapes have been formed and altered by cataclysmic volcanic activity in times past. Many are steeped in Maori legend and history - you'll hear stories of phantom canoes seen gliding in the mist, and of lovers who swam the lake to secretly meet upon their shores. The lakes are ringed by forest and farmland and most are easily accessible to anglers and sightseers alike.
The lakes and rivers have good populations of trout, with mixes of Rainbow, Brown, Brook and the hybrid Tiger Trout. Rotorua has 3 lakes regarded as trophy trout lakes, these being Lake Tarawera, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Okataina. The most popular methods of fishing on these is from a boat using methods like jigging and trolling but at certain times fly fishing excels. Lake Tarawera has the unique Te Rata Bay, it is here that the earth bubbles warm to hot thermal springs into the lake, water warm enough to soak away the weary bones and in places hot enough to cook your catch. Fish and Game NZ release fish from Lake Tarawera stock to most of the lakes in the North Island, they do however leave the rivers alone, unless a storm decimates the stocks, to be natural and let populations find there own levels. This is probably why New Zealand is so renound for its size of fish not its numbers. In fact you're likely to find Rotorua is the easiest place in New Zealand to hook up the best trout of your life.
From the boat, harling on Lake Rotorua has probably the highest catch rate of wild trout of anywhere in the world with an average of 3 fish per hour and average weights of 3lb for Rainbow trout and 6lb for Brown trout, during the summer months a limit bag and an excess of catch and released fish will leave a smile on your face that will last a lifetime or till the next time you have to go fishing!!! Fly fishing the likes of the famous Ngongotaha and Waiteti streams and the Awahou and Hamurana springs that flow into this shallow lake give the fish cool oxygenated water in the summer to hang out in and it is during this time that a morning or evening fishing trip can be the most rewarding. The Ngongotaha is probably the most heavily fished trout stream in the region and is always worth a wander anytime in its open season, 1st December to the 30th June, many a surprising rainbow and brown trout comes out of this small stream.
The stream and river network is so vast that you often have a dilemma as to which way to go. In just over an hour or a 20 minute helicopter flight from Rotorua, the world of opportunity awaits you. Put yourself in a picture and come and explore our part of New Zealand.
Sight fishing best describes the nature of our style of fly fishing. The water, generally, is crystal clear and the best method of fly fishing is to stealthily stalk up the river and spot your fish first before tempting it with a dry fly or nymph. If you were to 'fish the water' you'll spend a lot of time fishing barren water, a bit like fishing dirty or coloured water. The sight fishing style means that more of the river is covered, so be prepared to walk to make your chances optimised. The rewards to this effort is that when everything falls into place seeing a good sized fish rise to suck in dry fly or watch your nymph indicator disappear and you are hooked up on the fish of your dreams. The average fish in New Zealand is wary and cunning. They won’t give you too many chances so success comes from understanding how to deceive them and in being able to get the fly in the right place at the right time.
On an average day you can expect to have the opportunity to catch a reasonable number of reasonable sized fish. How many are landed depends on the skill of you the fisherman! A good day may see up to 10 or more fish landed. The better you can cast the better your chances. Most fish will be in the 3-6lb range with some up to 8lbs or larger.
Most anglers practice catch and release but the ability to keep a fish is still up to the angler’s discretion in most of our waters.
Our Seasons and what to expect:
October to December offers some great spring and early summer fishing. The Backcountry Rivers throughout the Central North Island open on October 1st after the major spawning runs and the winter months. The fish are active, hungry, and haven't seen anglers since the end of April for some and June in other areas. Dry fly can be limited, while nymph fishing yields best results. On the lakes the smelt are spawning, bringing trout into the shallows for some exciting action along the beaches and stream mouths. Lake Tarawera can be one of the best places to be for this action.
January & February are usually our best summer months. Giving you the best of our dry fly fishing and making it the day to remember. Cicada and hoppers are the delicacies and trout just love them!! If you really want to get away, my recommendation is overnight trips into the wilderness. Wilderness helifishing optionscan give a day to remember!!!!
Stream mouths on Lake Rotorua go ballistic with fish seeking cooler water as the lake warms, making for some awesome fishing. It is not uncommon to catch and release fish till you are tired in a morning then do it all over again in the evening. These fish average 1.5kg (3.5lb) with surprises up to 5kg plus. These fish are mostly Rainbows with the bigger ones being Browns.
March & April, dry fly action begins to slow down especially towards April but hatches are still about. You will get some great nymph fishing, fish are in peak condition and ready for spawning, making for some of the biggest fish of the season to be caught.
May to September Autumn and winter fishing at its best, Migratory runs start on all tributaries and to the hatchery liberation beaches on the lakes. There are some very big trout to be caught but you should expect cooler temperatures but generally very pleasant days (10 - 15c). Expect to see plenty of anglers as temperatures don't deter those chasing trophy fish in full spawning colours. Night fishing on the Rotorua lakes can provide some exceptional entertainment.