Taupo - A Trout Fisherman's dream destination


Posted by Garth London on


Ever since Zane Grey visited New Zealand in the 1920's and wrote of his fishing adventures in "Tales Of an Angler's El Dorado" Taupo has been recognised as one of the worlds great trout fishing destinations. The region has since been written of many times and hosted famous visitors from around the world who come in pursuit of arguably the finest of fighting sport fish.

 Casting out in the Waitahanui Stream, just one of Taupo's famous fishing streams.

Two types of trout, Brown and Rainbow, populate the Taupo fishery and were introduced to Taupo in the late 19th century. Rainbow Trout were introduced from California and Brown trout came from Scotland via Tasmania. In the early 20th century a 23kg (50lb) trout was speared in Kuratau and average trout were about 8lb. These days this has reduced to a still very healthy 4lb. It is thought that this is due reduced numbers of native fish and koura, a native crayfish, that occured early after the introduction of the species. The Taupo fishery is now a wild fishery with stock and feed self regulating. Trout numbers are monitored annually at spawning and are robust. Brown Trout slightly outlive Rainbows, typically surviving 8 years although there are records of fish surviving 15 years. 

Trout cannot be bought or sold in New Zealand and so the only way to experience this fine fish is to go catch your own or be given it as a gift. This is one of the methods used to ensure conservation of the fishery. The minimum size for trout in the Taupo catchment, which includes all of the rivers and streams flowing into the lake, is 40cm. To go fishing a license needs to be purchased which can be easily done online, by us, or arranged by your guide or local tackle shop and is relatively inexpesive. In most of the rivers of the catchment only fly fishing is allowed. Trolling and jigging are allowed in the lake using only artificial lures. For a summary of the Taupo Fishery Regulations click here.

A beautiful 5lb lake Rainbow Trout in perfect condition. This one measured 60cm and is about 2 years old.

At Whakaipo Lodge, to ensure the best possible experience, we work with a select group of guides and charter boat operators who are knowledgable, but also able to share and understand the needs of our visitors. We recommend a minimum of a half day on the river or lake.

The art of fishing requires patience, especially if you are fly fishing, when a longer spell on the river will be rewarding. Fly fishing is the true fisherman's choice where stalking, casting and landing the fish requires no small amount of skill and effort. It can be a superb way to experience some of New Zealand's pristine wilderness areas. Fishermen are generally dressed in waders to keep dry and warm as they are wading in the river or lake while fishing. Local guides are able to assist in teaching techniques, including where to fish and what flies to use. Waders, rods, lures and boots can be easily purchased at one of the many fine tackle shops in Taupo or Turangi and if you are going guided hire of this equipment is included in the price.

If catching a fish is your top priority the best way is to go onto the lake in a boat, where trolling is the preferred method. Fishing from the boat is relatively sedentary with comforts including food and beverage if you desire. Again, all the equipment is provided on the boat. Like all activities in the natural environment there are no guarantees, although our charter boat guests rarely return empty handed!

If you are lucky enough to land a trout, we are happy to prepare and cook it for you at Whakaipo Lodge. We have several methods that we use but one of our favourites, a lodge secret, is to hot smoke fillets using Scotch Whiskey and Manuka chips to impart a flavour that is spectacularly and uniquely New Zealand. This method takes a few hours to do justice and so we generally prepare and cook fish caught earlier in the day or the previous day. Taupo also is blessed with a number of commercial smoke houses that are able to prepare and pack trout for export if you wish to take your fish with you.

 

Rainbow fillets on show here exhibiting a beautiful natural  pink colour prior to going into the smoker.

There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of spinning a yarn about your day, while sharing good company and enjoying a fine New Zealand white wine, with your Lake Taupo trout, in the garden, or in front of the log fire at Whakaipo Lodge. After all, wasn't the saying "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" created for the fisherman!

The finished fish served with Whakaipo Lodge's fresh baked whole meal bread (not shown), some wasabi cream fraiche and soy or lemon.