Fresh Water

Rotorua summer freshwater fishing tips

by Fish and Game NZ

Rotorua’s trout fishing is renowned around the world, attracting thousands of visitors hoping to catch one of the region’s magnificent rainbow or brown trout.

But like anywhere, local knowledge pays off.

If you want to get out fishing with your family this holiday season, Fish & Game has some advice to give your trip a better chance of success.

The first thing to think of is water temperature.  While holiday makers like warm water for swimming, trout like cooler temperatures up to about 16-17C.

As a result, when the lakes start heating up, trout will be found in deeper waters where temperatures are more comfortable for them and where they can find their food.

Fish & Game’s Rotorua-based staff say that means for boat fishing, the deeper lakes like Rotoiti, Tarawera, Rotoma and Okataina are the places to go using fishing methods such as jigging and deep trolling.

Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne advises anglers to look for what is known as the thermocline – a band of water where the temperature changes.

“Trout are most likely to be found in or near the thermocline so being able to locate it is important for anglers,” says Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne.

The easiest way to pinpoint the thermocline is to check the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website and look at the ‘Live Monitoring’ links to the Rotorua lakes.

Shallower lakes such as Rotorua, Rotoehu and Rerewhakaaitu pose different challenges.

These lakes warm rapidly and trout don’t have the luxury of being able to escape to deeper cooler areas, so they go in search of cool springs or tributaries entering the lake.

“When you find this cooler water entering the lake, you can target trout by shallow trolling or harling, spinning and fly fishing.  Often the early morning or evening angling are best as fish are more actively feeding at those times,” Matt Osborne says.

But Mr Osborne warns that boat anglers must check the regulations to make sure where they are allowed to fish and remain 200 metres from a stream mouth or landmark pole.

For anglers without boats, Fish & Game officers reckon it’s hard to beat Lake Rotorua’s shoreline fishing where the streams empty out into the lakes.

As Lake Rotorua warms to around 23C, the Awahou and Hamurana stream mouths are the spots where trout congregate.

“The Awahou itself is closed to fishing and within 200 metres of the mouth, it is fly fishing only, while the Hamurana area is fly and spin,” Mr Osborne says.

“If fly fishing, a floating line with woolly bugger or smelt patterns work well, or try a nymph under an indicator. Quite often anglers can sight fish these areas.” 

Spin fishers should try a black and gold toby or light purple Tassie pattern, he advises.

The mouth of the Ngongotaha and Waiteti streams also offer good summer fishing opportunities.

On other rivers around the region, Matt Osborne advises to keep an eye on increasing insect activity as the temperature rises.

“Look for rises that indicate surface feeding on mayfly, caddis or cicadas. This is very exciting way to fish. 

“If trout are feeding subsurface, try rough nymph imitations such as the hare and copper that mimics caddis nymphs, or pheasant tail to represent mayfly” he says.

For more information, contact Mark Sherburn, phone 07-357 5501, Mob 021- 244 1774, or email:

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