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Does Taupo Have The Best Winter Fly Fishing in The World?

Updated: May 29, 2023

The Taupo region in New Zealand is renowned for its world-class trout fishery, attracting anglers from all over the world. This success is largely due to the introduction of rainbow trout into lake Taupo in the late 19th century. In 1883, the first shipment of rainbow trout eggs was brought to New Zealand from California, bred and released into Lake Taupo.

The fish thrived in the lake's cool, clean water and abundant food sources. As the trout population grew, so did the popularity of fishing in Lake Taupo and its tributaries. The lake's clear water, stunning scenery, and world-class fishing quickly made it a destination for anglers from all over the world.

One of the reasons that trout fishing in the Taupo region is so exceptional is the size of the fish. The cool, clear water of the lake provides the ideal environment for trout to grow to a large size. Anglers regularly catch trout weighing over 5 pounds, with some specimens weighing as much as 10 pounds or more. This and the area's stunning scenery make for a truly memorable fishing experience.

While the lake itself is a great place to fish it’s the tributaries that flow into the lake that offer exceptional fly fishing opportunities, particularly during the winter months. The Tongariro River, Tauranga-Taupo River, and Hinemaiaia River are among the most famous and popular fishing destinations for anglers seeking to catch large rainbow trout. This is largely due to the spawning cycle of these fish, which brings large numbers of trout to the rivers during the winter months.

The life cycle of rainbow trout begins with spawning, which usually takes place in the southern hemisphere winter or early spring. During the spawning season, adult rainbows migrate up the tributaries of Lake Taupo to spawn on the gravel beds in the headwaters. During this migration or “spawning run” the lower reaches of the rivers that run into Lake Taupo’s eastern shore remain open to fishing while the headwaters are closed to protect the spawning fish. This allows anglers to catch superb condition “fresh” rainbow trout that have come up from the lake on their way to spawn. These runs often follow elevated river levels after heavy rainfall which is also referred to as a fresh. The higher flows encourage masses of trout to start their run up the rivers.

Once in the headwaters the trout mate and lay their eggs in suitable habitats, such as river beds, gravel shoals, or spawning channels in a “nest” called a redd that is dug out by the trout. The eggs hatch into fry, which are tiny, newly-hatched fish that begin to feed and grow.

Over the next few months, the fry grows into parr, which are juvenile fish that resemble miniature adult trout. The parr continue to feed and grow, and eventually mature into smolts, which are young fish ready to migrate to the lake to feed and grow before returning to their freshwater habitats to spawn when they are mature.

This winter spawning cycle has led to the development of an exceptional winter fishery in the tributaries of Lake Taupo. Anglers flock to the rivers to take advantage of the high numbers of big rainbow trout from June to September every year.

In order to preserve the exceptional winter fishery in the tributaries of Lake Taupo, there are strict regulations on fishing practices and catch limits. These regulations are designed to protect the spawning rainbow trout and ensure the sustainability of the fishery for future generations. This commitment to conservation and sustainable management is one of the reasons that the winter fishery in the tributaries of Lake Taupo remains one of the finest in the world.

If you want to learn everything about fly fishing Taupo during this amazing winter fishing then check out my newly launched online course: Guide to Fly Fishing Taupo Rivers in winter. I'll teach you everything you need to know to catch trout during the winter that consistently runs in all four of the major Taupo rivers. Check it out below

Below I have included a selection of videos from my YouTube channel that showcase the exceptional fishing that can be had during the winter trout fishing season in the Taupo region. I hope you enjoy them.

1 Comment

Angel Moreton
Angel Moreton
Feb 07, 2023

Great article with a lot of knowledge and very true. Congratulations!!!!

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