Trout reproduce by returning to their place of birth, so their pre-spawning movements can be predicted by keen fishers.
Around three-quarters of the trout population in the Rotorua lakes began their lives at the Ngongotaha trout hatchery. As yearlings they are released into the lakes at various locations, and it’s those release locations that become the places they ‘home’ to.
Eastern Fish and Game publish their release locations so that anglers can target the winter hot spots, with any small stream mouth a great place to start. Fish tend to congregate just off the lip during the day, then move in closer to the stream mouth after dark or before dawn.
Rotorua trout mature at three-to-four years of age, meaning they are as big as they are going to get. Spawning fish tend to be in great condition too, as they have packed on lots of energy over summer and autumn in preparation for the rigors of breeding. This makes them fine table fare with deep orange flesh and a healthy volume of fat – the good fishy fat that it!
Fly fishing is the preferred method, although most locations allow spin fishing as well. The best times are the first couple of hours after 5am when fishing begins, and any time after dark to midnight when fishing ends for the day.
Floating lines and a small ‘lumo’ (glow in the dark) doll fly or traditional night fly are a good choice if fly fishing, or try Toby’s and Veltec’s if spinning during the day.
Anglers can give it a go with a day licence for just $21, or a winter licence is available from April 1 until the season ends on September 30, for $80.