June 23, 2024

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Taupo Fishery: The Complete Guide

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The town of Taupō lies on top of the largest lake in New Zealand. Naturally, it attracts visitors from all over the world, and for good reason. Fishing in Taupō gives you the chance to explore this unique angler’s paradise. This is one of the best freshwater destinations in the country, boasting year-round access to productive bodies of water.

Taupō’s fishing opportunities span from the cascades of the Waikato River to the crystal-clear waters of the Tongariro River, via the shoreline of Lake Taupō itself. With a labyrinth of fishing spots to discover, anglers of all ages and skill levels can cast a line and get a chance to land something interesting.

In this guide, we’ll navigate through the best fishing spots in Taupō, discuss the species you can reel in, and cover the tactics and seasons. The goal is clear: to equip you with the knowledge to make your Taupō fishing experience one to remember. The adventure starts here.

What can I catch while fishing in Taupō?

In the angling world, Taupō is synonymous with unparalleled diversity. The region is known for its cool, nutrient-rich waters that are a haven for some of the most exciting fish species. Plus, Taupō accommodates all, from seasoned veterans looking for their next trophy to complete beginners on the hunt for their first ever catch.

A man and a woman holding up their freshly-caught Trout aboard a fishing boat in Taupō on a sunny day, with the water behind them and blue skies above them
Photo courtesy of Fish Taupo

It goes without saying that Rainbow Trout is one of the star attractions here. These fish are native to the area, inhabiting both lakes and rivers. Next in line are river dwellers Brown Trout, which tend to grow to pretty impressive sizes yet are less abundant than their Rainbow brothers. Then, there are the migrating Smelt that play a crucial role in the local ecosystem as a vital food source for Trout.

Finally, there’s a long list of species that are often overlooked in favour of the more popular Trout. These are the endemic Koaro, Longfin and Shortfin Eels, and a variety of native freshwater species. One thing’s for sure, there’s no shortage of fish to target! But before you grab your gear, let’s talk about the most popular catches in more detail.

Rainbow Trout

A young girl in a fluorescent green life vest, holding a shiny Rainbow Trout caught while fishing in Taupō, with the water behind her
Photo courtesy of Pinnacle Charters

Arguably the crown jewel of Taupō, Rainbow Trout is praised for its glistening scales, explosive fight, and delectable flavour. Rainbows are abundant in the Waikato and Tongariro Rivers, as well as Lake Taupō. The peak season to hunt for these gorgeous fish runs during the colder months, from May to October.

When it comes to techniques, fly fishing is the go-to method to lure Rainbows. Local fly anglers often use nymphs and streamers, although you can always experiment. In addition to that, you can troll with lures and downriggers right from the boat.

Brown Trout

An angled photo of a man standing on a charter boat and holding a Trout, with a lake's waters behind him on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Pinnacle Charters

As we mentioned earlier, the elusive Brown Trout is a test even for seasoned anglers. These fish fight, and fight hard. Browns have pretty selective feeding habits and nocturnal tendencies, preferring to stay in deeper sections of the rivers and the depths of the lake.

Now, the good news is that Brown Trout are year-round residents. However, they tend to be much more active from late summer through fall. Similar to Rainbows, fly fishing with nymphs and streamers is the go-to technique, although you can also tempt Brown Trout with natural offerings while bait fishing.


While Smelt fishing isn’t the most exciting and adventurous thing in the area, they’re pretty irreplaceable. As the primary food source for Brown and Rainbow Trout, these silvery fish are abundant in Lake Taupō and its tributaries, making a lot of fly anglers happy.

You can take advantage of the Smelt runs, which typically happen from late winter through spring. During this period, anglers have all the chances to land a pretty big catch, if they know where to look, of course.


Not native to the area, Catfish were introduced to Taupō in the 1950s. Since then, they have been thriving in the shallow, warmer waters of Lake Taupō. Catfish are usually bottom dwellers, serving as a fun catch that can offer a lot of action while other species are less active.

Plus, catfishing in Taupō is a year-round pleasure, particularly during the warmer months when Trout are less available. Consider bottom fishing with bait such as worms, or even small lures.


Similar to Catfish, Carp aren’t native to New Zealand. However, there are strong populations of these powerful fish in some of Taupō’s warmer waters. In such a Trout-dominant region, Carp are often overlooked, although experienced anglers know that they’re fantastic fighters and can reach impressive sizes.

Late spring through summer is the best time to go for Carp. Try bottom fishing with dough baits, corn, or worms. In fact, you can target Carp when other species aren’t biting, or use them as a target to teach your kids how to fish.

💡Please note that most species are subject to restrictions ranging from closed seasons to bag and size limits. Make sure you’re familiar with local rules and regulations before you head out.

Taupō Fishing Seasons

So we mentioned a little about Taupō’s fishing seasons above, but let’s look at them in a little more detail. The beauty of fishing here is that it’s possible year-round, thanks to New Zealand’s climate.

A view across Lake Taupō towards a large, offshore sportfishing vessel with a volcanic mountain covered in snow in the distance on a clear day

As the chill of winter begins to recede in late September, Taupō’s aquatic life becomes more active. Spring is a particularly exciting time for Trout fishing as the spawning season reaches its peak. Fly fishing rivers such as the Tongariro and Tauranga-Taupō are teeming with migrating Trout. Lake Taupō also becomes a Trout Trolling Mecca where the fish actively feed after the long winter.

Summer in Taupō is a time of abundance. Warm temperatures and long days create ideal conditions for dry fly fishing for Trout on the rivers and stillwaters. Additionally, this is the best time to target Carp and Catfish, which are most active during the warmer months.

As the heat of summer gives way to the crisp air of autumn, the fishing scene in Taupō undergoes a dramatic transformation. This is when Brown Trout begin their spawning run, migrating up the rivers from Lake Taupō.

The winter months, from June to August, are synonymous with one thing: the Rainbow Trout spawning run. Despite the cold weather, winter fishing can be incredibly rewarding, particularly in the Tongariro and Tauranga-Taupō Rivers.

Best Fishing Spots in Taupō

Now that you know the fish species you can go for and when to come, let’s talk about the most productive spots. Lake Taupō might be the obvious first choice for many, but it’s not the only game in town. There are numerous fishing locations spread throughout the region, presenting a variety of unique and engaging angling experiences.

A view out across a small, wooden fishing jetty on Lake Taup

Each year, people from all over the country and even the world flock to Taupō, eager to explore the thrill of catching something amazing. Regardless of your preference, be it the excitement of river fishing, the peace of a hidden lake, or the test of an expansive reservoir, there’s definitely a spot for you. Here’s our list of Taupō fishing destinations for you to consider, starting with Lake Taupō:

  • Lake Taupō. As New Zealand’s most expansive body of water, Lake Taupō sprawls over an area of 616 km². Its pristine, chilly waters create an ideal habitat for a multitude of high-quality fish. Though the lake can be enjoyed throughout the year, winter is considered the prime fishing season. During this period, the river and stream mouths often yield trophy-sized catches. Summer also presents excellent fishing opportunities, though. The local Trout tend to search for bait fish in shallow waters, which makes for great shore fishing.
  • Lake Otamangakau. Affectionately known as Lake O by the locals, this lake offers world-class freshwater fishing between November and May. The weed beds and channels serve as popular Brown and Rainbow Trout fishing areas, particularly loved by local fly fishing enthusiasts. While other lakes may offer superior shore fishing opportunities, the northwest side of Lake O presents a good prospect for wading or fishing from a float tube or small boat.
  • Lake Kuratau. Although Lake Kuratau may be the smallest among its peers, it compensates for its size with the numbers of Rainbow and Brown Trout that anglers can catch each year. Similar to Lake O, the best time to explore Lake Kyratau is between November and May. Kayak and boat fishing are particularly fruitful here.
  • Waikato River. Flowing from Lake Taupō, the Waikato River is a popular destination for anglers of all skill levels. The river is renowned for its population of Rainbow Trout, and the section below the Huka Falls is especially productive. There are various options for boat fishing, bank fishing, and fly fishing.
  • Tongariro River. One of New Zealand’s most famous fly fishing rivers, this is a must-visit spot for any angler. Located less than an hour’s drive from Taupō, it’s known for its large runs of Rainbow and Brown Trout. The Tongariro’s numerous pools and runs offer endless opportunities for both nymph and dry fly fishing.
  • Tauranga-Taupō River. The Tauranga-Taupō River is another top destination for Trout fishing. Located to the south of Lake Taupō, this river is renowned for its productive winter fishing, when large numbers of Trout migrate upriver to spawn. These, in turn, attract a lot of fly fishermen from all over the region.

How can I go fishing in Taupō?

With the right blend of gear, tackle, techniques, and local knowledge, a successful fishing trip in Taupō is almost guaranteed. A local captain can tailor your trip to the species you’re targeting, the waters you’re exploring, and their seasonality. It should come as no surprise that booking a charter is the best way to get to know the local waters without having to worry about virtually anything. Your guide will take care of all the gear and will give you a helping hand, no matter your skill level. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know what to expect.

Gear and Tackle

A selection of fishing equipment: a knife, pliers, lures, boots, fishing rod, and hat, all laid out on a wooden floor.

First and foremost, versatility is key in Taupō when it comes to gear. Of course, your setup depends on where and when you’re fishing, and which species you’re hoping to catch. For instance, you’ll need a heavier setup for the deep waters of Lake Taupō. A 7–9 wt rod paired with a large arbour reel is a good choice.

If you’re after Trout in one of the rivers, consider packing a fly rod for dry fly fishing or nymphing. Locals usually say that a selection of leaders and tippets ranging from 4–6 X covers most situations. Hooks, weights, and floats, along with a medium to heavy action spinning rod with 10–20 lb line usually do the trick for Catfish and Carp fishing.


A man in full wading gear standing on the shore of a river near Taupō while fly fishing, with the reflection of the sky and the surrounding trees visible on the water

As we mentioned earlier, your choice of fishing technique depends on various factors, such as the targeted species and location. Fly fishing is especially popular among river Trout anglers. An experienced Taupō angler knows how to read the water, identify the right spot, and present the fly in a natural manner. Fly anglers gravitate to the river mouths and deeper inland.

Fly fishing aside, Lake Taupō fishing is also about trolling, adjusting the speed and depth until you find where the fish are. Note that bait fishing might be forbidden in some waters, so you’ll most likely be trolling with lures.

Fishing in Taupō: The Only Thing Missing Is You

A across the shore towards the town of Taupō, with waterfront houses visible in the distance and some ducks visible in the foreground on a clear day

As we’ve covered the region’s rich angling landscape, it’s clear that fishing in Taupō is an experience like no other. In fact, it has all the potential to become a story for the ages. You can be a seasoned pro in search of a trophy Trout or a novice eager to make your first cast. Taupō is a place everyone should explore. And that’s before mentioning the breathtaking sunrises over the lakes. Tight lines!

Have you ever been fishing in Taupō? What’s your favourite spot? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Taupō Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Taupō Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/taupo-fishing/
Published Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2023 09:02:31 +0000

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