By Trout Anglers for Trout Anglers
Taupo Fishery Focus #28.
April 2023 newsletter from the Department of Conservation with the most up-to-date information on the Taupo Fishery.
By trout anglers for trout anglers.
Issue 28 - April 2023.
Fishing is improving as we head towards the winter spawning runs. Boat anglers are now reporting good catches of excellent conditioned rainbow trout, which strikes an optimistic note for winter river fishing in the Taupō District.
The late arrival of a thermocline in the Great Lake now offers boaties a more focussed target to help find trout. As a result, jigging is once again an effective way to catch them.
Shorter days and cooler water temperatures will see increasingly large numbers of rainbows gather around river mouths, presenting a great opportunity for shore-based anglers. Fresh rainbows are already entering rivers, particularly the Tongariro where elevated flows have been a feature since early March. As we head into May, we can expect to see the start of more significant spawning runs.
We work hard to make Taupō fishing licences as affordable as possible. After remaining static for 6 years we now need to introduce a small fee increase – see below.
Taupō fishing licences are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week from our online licence store: www.doc.govt.nz/FishingLicence
In case you missed the Special Edition of our newsletter, it's photo competition time again! Your chance to win a Taupō fishing licence for the 2023/24 season.
A free fishing licence will make an ideal start to the new season, which kicks off 1 July. Winning photographs will be used to illustrate the various licence categories, which means there could be up to seven winners.
Closing date for entries is midnight Sunday 14 May 2023.
Full competition details including information on how to enter can be found on our website:
Angler summer surveys. Summer creel surveys on Lake Taupō are now complete with almost 300 angler interviews conducted. Anglers caught a total of 400 trout, 189 of which were kept. A further 176 legal sized trout were released while 35 undersized fish were released. Anglers kept 52% of their legally sized catch. Anglers estimated a catch rate of 0.65 fish per hour (1 legal sized trout every 92 minutes) which is very similar to last season. Anglers rated the trout at 6.2/10 which is down in comparison to recent years. However, it is important to remember that last summer was exceptional with the trout averaging 485mm and 1.5kg (3.3lbs). In addition, multiple heavy rain events flushed large numbers of recovering trout back to the lake, where they made an easy target for anglers. These hungry thin trout were often first to hit a lure and made up the bulk of the catch around Christmas. Trout kept by anglers were on average 13mm shorter at 472mm and 200g lighter at 1.3kg (2.9lbs). The heaviest rainbow was a stunning jack measuring 600mm and weighing 3.5kg (7.7lbs) with a condition factor of 58.5, caught during late January. Periods of cool, wet weather over summer caused the thermocline to form much later than expected. As a result, trout were widely distributed with shallow and deep trolling the most effective methods. The lake did eventually warm and stratify, so jigging did improve, albeit much later than expected. Fish size and quality also improved with some much nicer trout being caught from March onwards which is encouraging signs for the winter runs. Anglers rated their angling success at 6.4/10. Jigging (46.4%) was the preferred method on the lake followed by deep trolling (27.3%) and shallow trolling (14.5%). The popularity of jigging has been slowly decreasing since its peak during summer 2019/20 with a slight increase being observed in trolling methods. Finally anglers rated their angling enjoyment at 9.4/10 with jet skiers reported as the main angling detraction this summer. Thanks to all anglers who participated in the summer creel surveys. Your contributions help further improve understanding of the Taupō fishery.
Licence fee increase in pipeline for 2023/24.
The cost of catching trout in the Taupō District has remained static since 2017 but with our operating costs constantly growing an increase in licence fees is now unavoidable.
Our aim is to keep the increases as low as we can. We believe it is important to ensure trout fishing in the Taupō District remains affordable, particularly for families and kiwis looking to gather kai for the table.
Many anglers regard the Taupō Fishing District as one of the best trout fisheries in the world. It is one of the few places where high quality trout can be caught all year round. Fishery maintenance is reliant on licence income, so a fee increase is required to ensure we continue to deliver a quality experience for anglers.
Details will be released once figures have been finalised.
Lake productivity survey complete.
A break in the weather last week provided an ideal opportunity to collect the latest Lake Taupō productivity data.
This important work provides a snapshot of lake productivity, as measured along 7 transects or paths across the lake - each provides a slice through the water column, revealing trout, smelt and plankton.
The photo shows the echo sounding device stowed on the boat prior to deployment. It acts like a very powerful yet sensitive fish finder that records a stream of data onto a computer.
Our technical staff are yet to analyse the data but initial impressions confirm a thermocline has now formed with trout and smelt present around 35m.
Increase in non-compliance.
We have recently seen a significant increase in the number of anglers fishing without a valid Taupō fishing licence.
This is a serious matter, where offenders deprive the fishery of essential funds and undermine the contribution of other anglers. Therefore we take all necessary steps to enforce the regulations. Offenders can expect to receive a $400 Infringement Notice - this is a fixed penalty.
Please remember to purchase a licence before you start fishing and carry it with you while fishing - purchase a Taupō fishing licence>
Fishing improves for winter.
Following a low point at the start of the year, boat anglers are now catching good numbers of well conditioned rainbows.
The photo shows sixteen excellent rainbow trout caught by three anglers boat fishing for a couple of hours at the northern end of Lake Taupō.
While all the fish had an excellent condition factor, the 6lb fish at the bottom of the photograph was truly outstanding - a totally wild rainbow trout with a CF in excess of 60.
Waipa trap cleared and ready.
The February cyclone battered the forests around the Waipa fish trap. Fishery Rangers cleared a huge quantity of debris and fallen trees that blocked the track to the trap. With access restored, Rangers could then repair infrastructure and prepare the stream bed. The fish trap will be reinstated and start operating 1 May.
If you have a technical interest in the Taupō fishery, look out for our online data for the winter season>
Tongariro elevated flow.
Genesis has been carrying out maintenance work on the Poutu Intake and Tunnel since 6 March, which has resulted in elevated flows in the Tongariro River.
Due to unforeseen delays, the work has been extended for a second time. The river will now return to normal levels on Tuesday 2 May.
Tauranga-Taupō forestry operations.
NZ Forest Managers have asked us to remind anglers of the dangers of approaching active forestry operations, as they continue clearance work following Cyclone Gabrielle. This follows an incident where anglers put themselves at risk near the Tauranga-Taupō River.
Anglers are asked to please stick to the marked tracks, and keep clear of heavy machinery.
Map correction. An error has been corrected on the Lake Otamangakau section of the 'Taupō Fishing District Map'. To clarify, the fishing season at Lake Otamangakau closes 31 May not 30 June. The closure date remains unchanged from previous years. Link to updated Map and Summary pdf> Trout help critically endangered species. The Taupō fishery team is helping support the recovery of endangered tara iti / NZ fairy tern. This ground nesting seabird is classified as Nationally Critical having suffered a dramatic decline since the 1970’s. The population in the wild is estimated at only 40 individuals and that includes approximately 9 breeding pairs - website> Get the most up-to-date information directly from the Taupō Fishery Facebook page.