2022/2023 Spring Newsletter
Travel restrictions and mandates are now a thing of the past and our rivers are open for another year of adventure.
Now is the time to buy your licence to take full advantage of a full season. The new season is here and there is a great summer of fishing to enjoy. If you missed out last season it’s time to get back out there with your friends and family.
This issue will cover:
- How to get started fly fishing
- South Waikato Streams are now easy day trip from Auckland
- Fish & Game play a critical role in protecting Trout habitat
- Fly fishing at the Lake Pupuke Quarry
- New fly shop in town
- Have you seen a dead eel in the Whanganui or Whakapapa
- Ditch the swivel join and wind on revolution
- Auckland Lakes fish stocking schedule
- We need you feedback on the Quarry Lake liberations
- Introducing the video library
- Need help planning a fishing trip
- Rule changes
One of the most frequent questions we’re asked at Fish & Game is “where can I learn to fly fish?”
Fly fishing is not that hard to learn but there is a lot to navigate when you are getting started. Figuring out how to cast, what gear to choose and where to go can be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, many new anglers that buy gear often struggle with early failures and give up. In North America many fly shops offer free beginner fly fishing classes but currently there is no Fly Fishing 101 classes available on the North Island. There are three pathways for North Islanders to learn how to fly fish and using one or all of them will greatly increase your chance of enjoying fly fishing for years to come.
1. Join a club: There are 15 fishing clubs listed on the Auckland/Waikato web page that enjoy helping people learn to fish. Joining a club like the Hamilton Anglers Club, Auckland Fly Fishing Anglers Club or Northshore Fly Fishers gives you an experienced peer group to help navigate the learning process. Spending time with skilled, or at least enthusiastic anglers will greatly improve your chances of becoming self-sufficient. Most clubs organise monthly fishing trips with shared travel and accommodation. Being a member of a club is not only great for your wellbeing, but it will also save you time and money during the learning process.
2. Hire a guide: Guides are a great resource if you have the funds, but make sure you tell your guide what you want to learn. Going for a fish on private land with a guide to rig your gear is like shooting a deer in a paddock and thinking you know how to hunt. One of the major drawbacks of hiring a guide in the Auckland/Waikato Region is that most North Island guides work out of Turangi, so it is a major commitment with significant travel costs. Tell your guide you want to learn to fish the river where you plan to spend most of your time, if that’s in the Waikato find a local guide. One day on the water isn’t going to make you a pro but it will give you a good start and allows you to use someone else’s gear when you are most likely to break a rod tip or put holes in your waders.
Waikato Guide Rob Vaz holding a nice rainbow caught by his client Moosa.
3. Teach yourself: If you like DIY solutions and are willing to put in the time there are lots of resources online. Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game has a video library dedicated to anglers learning to fish, this will save you hours of mucking around on YouTube. People who do put in the time on their own find the experience very satisfying if successful, but it will take a lot more time and research compared to a guide or a club. If you are not a traditional club person and you decide DIY fits your personality, there are several NZ Facebook groups that can provide good advice on gear and technique.
The Waihou River is now much closer to Auckland!
With the completion of the new Waikato Expressway, Waikato streams like the Waihou are now less than two hours from Auckland. The Mangatutu, Pūniu and Pokaiwhenua are an easy day trip for Auckland anglers. The new Expressway cuts 30 minutes off the total journey, bypassing Hamilton, Huntly and Cambridge. The 2.4 billion dollar highway saves on fuel and makes the trip south for a days fishing a whole lot more relaxing.
There are many great fishing options at the end of the Expressway including:
- Lake Karapiro: The upper end of lake Karapiro consistently produces some of the biggest trout in the region including browns in excess of 6kg. The Arapuni swing bridge and the Waikato River trail give access to some big water with big fish. Not only is the fishing underutilised but the area offers great biking trails, swimming and camping.
- Lake Arapuni: At only two hours from Auckland. Lake Arapuni is an hour closer than Rotorua with low cost camping options and some great fishing.
- Waihou River and Waimakariri Stream: Neither waterway is a secret but both fish well in wet weather, have plenty of fish and are a great stopover on the way to Rotorua. The Waihou and Waimakariri can be accessed from SH5 and the Blue Springs Walkway provides stunning scenery with great fishing.
- Waipa River The Waipa River: can be excellent fishing during early season and is just over two hours from Auckland.
- Waikato River: Although the highway now deviates from the Waikato River it is pretty easy to pop off and go spin fishing. The Waikato is full of browns until mid December and is fishable all the way up to the base of Karapiro Dam.
Credit: Aaron West.
The government’s current programme to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA) could mean the end of protection for trout habitat in New Zealand.
The government is currently reviewing the RMA and the Wildlife Act and the outcomes could dramatically change your ability to hunt and fish in New Zealand. Fish & Game are working hard to protect trout habitat and our opportunities to hunt gamebirds. Fish and Game needs your support more than ever to ensure the great trout fishing we enjoy today continues.
Removing protection for trout habitat in the RMA would not only set a scary precedence but would remove Fish & Game’s most effective advocacy tool for protecting New Zealand’s waterways.
Healthy Rivers (Plan Change 1)
For the last seven years, Fish & Game staff and consultants have been advocating for better outcomes in the proposed Plan Change by the Waikato Regional Council to improve water quality in the Waikato River. Plan change 1 was prompted by the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010 and the resulting Vision and Strategy that requires that both the Waikato and Waipa rivers are “safe for people to swim in and take food from over its entire length” within 80 years.
Fish & Game along with Iwi groups are advocating for better water quality, while agriculture and industry groups are advocating for less stringent regulations. Fish & Game continues to be effective because anglers purchase licences. The RMA process is so prolonged and complicated that it requires more expertise and time than any one individual could invest. The good news is that the process is going well, and our team continues to punch far above its weight. Although there have been big wins for our rivers and lakes, agriculture and industry groups have appealed many of the critical changes to the plan. We are currently involved in Environment Court mediation and final appeals may not be finished until 2024.
The Plan Change 1 process.
Author Daniel Carter.
Fish & Game releases 2-year-old rainbow trout into the Quarry Lake arm of Lake Pupuke every winter and fishing has been fantastic!
If you are looking for some easy trout fishing not too far away from home going down to the quarry is certainly worth a cast. In this article you will learn everything you need to know to be successful at the quarry.
Where to Fish
There are a couple of short concrete jetties next to the parking lot that are great for fishing access. The floating pontoon on the east side of the lake near the boardwalk also produces fish. However, the area around the pontoon is shallower and the drop off is further out requiring a longer cast.
The Quarry has many other recreational users, including those canoeing, kayaking, and using RC boats. So please be courteous to other users regardless of where you fish. The buoys and floats in the lake are connected by underwater lines so please avoid casting near them and be aware of your back cast when fishing near pedestrians.
Rod Set Up
Streamer flies are a great way to fish the lake and a standard 9 foot, 5 weight floating line with a 9 to 12 ft leader is perfect. Using a floating line will give you the option of dry fly fishing if fish are rising and can be weighted for fishing streamers. Due to the depth of the lake a sinking line can make fishing easier if you find the fish are deep.
Streamer flies are the go to method in the quarry but occasionally dry flies are productive. For a couple of weeks after each release, stocked trout in an unfamiliar environment will hit almost anything that moves. Short and sharp strips seem to be the best way to entice these fish to take the fly. Slow retrieves don’t get their attention although they are commonly used in other lakes. Fly patterns that consist of Marabou feathers or rabbit can puff up quite spectacularly when stripped quickly and work well in the quarry. Noticeable and ‘in your face’ type flies really get the attention of these young and feisty fish. Some of the more effective patterns have very bright and noticeable colours and include the Red Setter, Lime Green Parsons, or the Yellow Rabbit. During low light conditions you will want darker coloured patterns (Black or Olive Green) like the Craigs Night Time, Black Marabou, and dark Woolly Bugger patterns.
Depth is critical so letting your line sink to the depth where the trout are is important. During low light (night or early morning) fish are often in the upper part of the water column cruising only a metre or two below the surface, waiting for a tasty looking morsel with lots of action to swim by. As the sun comes up, or when fishing the steep drops around the edge of the quarry, varying your drop time can be productive. As more light hits the water, fish will head deeper, so allow your fly to sink longer. Sinks times of up to 30 seconds can be effective in the quarry.
When fish are feeding on the surface dry flies can be very effective. The technique here is to simply cast out and allow the ripple and wind on the water to move the fly around naturally, until a fish rises to it. If the water is too glassy and the wind too calm, natural flies won’t be blown onto the water and dry flies don’t look real, so it is often a waste of time using them. Fly patterns that imitate the local insects include the Parachute Adams, or an Elk Hair Caddis are effective. Make sure they are small, no larger than size 16, as many of the local insects that hatch at night are small and generally shades of white to brown.
The quarry is an utterly brilliant place to enjoy good fly fishing whilst not having to drive several hours out of Auckland. Fish and Game staff travel all the way from Rotorua to deliver trout to the Quarry Lake three times a year during the cooler months of the year and their efforts are much appreciated for the hours of enjoyment provided to local anglers.
Quarry Lake rainbow trout.
Remember when you could walk into your local fishing store and the owner would sell you a couple of flies and tell you where to fish.
If you happen to be going through Taumarunui those days are back. It is not often that a new fly shop opens in our region so we thought it would be a good idea to tell you about it. Although Rhys Hogg has been tying flies for NZ anglers since the 90’s he has recently opened NZ Fishing Flies, just off SH4 in Taumarunui. The shop is quite unique for a fly shop because Rhys is literally behind the vice pumping out tens of thousands of top quality flies in the shop. One of the unique features of NZ Fishing Flies is their ability to sell custom sets of flies for your fishing trips. You can call up Rhys and tell him you are planning a trip to the Whakapapa but want to fish the Ongarue on the way down, he can tie you up a custom selection of flies for your trip. If you know what you are after already check out NZ Fishing Flies on Instagram or order from the online shop.
There have been several unexplained mass eel deaths in the Whanganui catchment during the last decade.
The deaths have become an almost annual event but determining the cause is difficult unless fresh samples are taken. A mass death of eels on the Whakapapa in 2021 resembled a fish kill caused by water contamination like an effluent or chemical spill but past events have looked more like fungal infections from poor water quality like the eel pictured below. Although mass deaths of eels in the Waikato are not uncommon, due to poor water quality caused by intensive farming, the Wanganui River is comparatively clean, and eels should not be suffering the same fate.
The recurring deaths have prompted DOC, Horizons Regional Council, MPI, Fish & Game and local Iwi to create a plan to attempt to solve the mystery. We are asking the public to keep an eye out for dead and dying eels and to please report them on the Horizons Regional Council Pollution Hotline. Collecting fresh samples for analysis is critical to determining if the deaths are caused by pollution or disease. A drop off point will be set up to courier the samples for analysis. If you see multiple dead or dying fish in the Whanganui or Whakapapa Rivers, please call 0508 800 800. If you have time, please send us an email to report the incident so our staff can follow up email@example.com.
Eel with fungal infection.
The introduction of trout soft baits has shown New Zealand trout anglers that we have a lot to gain from saltwater fishing techniques.
Over the last five years thousands of anglers have realized their saltwater soft bait setups are great for catching trout. With any new technique there have been some useful refinements like paddle tail baits, small trout specific jig heads, and more recently the use of wind on leaders.
Keeping your gear simple has huge benefits, so we recommend anglers new to trout fishing with soft baits simply spool their reel with 6 lb mono and tie the jig heads directly onto the mainline. However, many experienced anglers use braid and are forced to use a swivel or transition ring to attach the leader, limiting the leader length due to the swivel hanging up in the guides. If you have ever taught kids to cast soft baits or spinners, you will know winding a swivel in too far is a great way to damage guides. The wind on leader knot is a good solution to this problem.
There are dozens of horribly complex and tedious leader knots, but one stands out for strength, simplicity, and speed. Simplifications to the FG knot and tying technique have made it a great tool for trout anglers. We have provided a link to a good demo video on how to tie the knot as it is far easier to learn when watching. Because this technique uses the rod for tension it can be tied quickly on the bank when fishing. But we do have a couple of tips that are not clear in the video:
- With small stiff mono you need to keep plenty of tension on your wraps and it is a good idea to stretch the line/knot after every five wraps to make sure it digs in. Your first wraps are the most critical and hardest to tension after the fact.
- Don’t go too far, getting the wraps to bite in is more important than lots of wraps. With some mono braid combos 12-16 wraps is plenty.
- Finish with two half hitches that go around the mono, tension the knot so it bites in, trim the mono and then add another finishing knot or two for protection of the join before you trim the braid.
- Sharp scissors are helpful for trimming the braid and a quick pass over a lighter will clean up any messy fray.
6 lb mono leader attached to 12 lb braid.
Spring is a great time of year to fish the Auckland lakes and there are plenty to choose from. Once water temperatures rise in December fishing will be difficult until things cool off again in the autumn.
Fish and Game stock three Lakes within an hour of Auckland that are ideal for kids fishing or a relaxing day out:
- Quarry Lake at Lake Pupuke is stocked with three lots of 200 fish each winter starting with the Easter school holidays. The lake has drive-up fishing and is ideal for a getaway in the middle of the city.
- Parkinsons Lake is stocked annually in May with 200 legal sized rainbow trout and is an ideal spot to take a youngster out for their first fish.
- Lake Whatihua is also stocked annually in May with 200 legal sized fish and is a bit of a walk down to the lake but a very pleasant experience. The landowner at the lake has been very kind in allowing access so please be tidy and courteous.
All three of our stocked lakes can be fished with bait and a simple setup with 6 lb monofilament line, with a small float and some corn kernels for bait is all you need to be successful. Although we would highly recommend some good snacks and a plan B because having fun with kids on fishing trips is not always about catching fish. Keep in mind that both Parkinsons and Whatihua are affected by the afternoon sea breeze when the weather is fine so go early, or make sure you check the forecast.
Parkinson’s Lake Rainbow.
We want to know about your experience at Quarry Lake.
Fish & Game has put a lot of effort into stocking Quarry Lake. Three loads of fish were driven up from Rotorua since Easter and we would like to know how the fishing has been. If you have been fishing Quarry Lake, please let us know how it went and better yet if you caught a fish send us a photo. We are very interested in how the fish are getting on, so if you kill a fish, please measure the length to the fork in the tail and weigh it. To contact us please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quarry Lake at Lake Pupuke.
It is easy to spend hours on YouTube looking for videos about your favourite fishing topic, so we have done it for you.
The Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game Video Library is a new addition to our webpage with how to videos and videos showcasing our favourite rivers. If you find a video, you think we need to add to our list please send us the link email@example.com.
If you need help planning a fishing trip, finding accommodation, finding a spot to fish or any other fishing related matters, please call us. We're happy to answer your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Freshwater sports fishing regulations are set by your elected representatives on the Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game Council based on suggestions from you, our licence holders.
Every three years staff collate all the suggested changes to our sports fishing regulations and present them in a report for Council to consider. Changes to the fisheries regulations are relatively infrequent but several rule changes were approved by Council for the coming season:
- The addition of coloured dough and corn as legal bait. Many anglers are unaware that only baits listed in the first schedule, or added by regions to the second schedule, can be used in waters open to bait fishing.
- No minimum length for perch, tench or rudd.
- The use of bait is now legal in the Waihou River downstream from the Okoroire Falls.
- The limit for trout on the Waione Stream is now zero due to a significant decline in large fish. The Waione is still open for catch and release fishing.
Toa Bridge access on the Waipa River
Access to the Waipa River at Toa Bridge has been an issue for some time. Due to the generosity of some great landowners the area below the bridge from the council reserve up to the bridge can be fished if you get prior permission. There are two landowners on this stretch of river and if you ask politely in person, they are likely to let you have access across their properties. The red and blue dots on the map below show the location of both landowners. The purple dot on the map is the parking area at the council reserve below Toa Bridge. The riverbed and land between the river and road is all private so if you intend to cross it please ask. Please be overly polite with both landowners as their properties include portions of the riverbed so the access situation is delicate.
Private land below Toa Bridge on the Waipa River.
Fish and Game and Walking Access New Zealand (now Herenga a Nuku Aotearoa) have been working on enhancing access upriver of Toa Bridge for some time. Walking Access New Zealand has agreed that there is a legal access past the first landowner to the paper road upriver. However, we are still working through the new access so please watch this space. We will announce any new changes in our monthly ‘Reel Life’ newsletter.
Public access above Toa Bridge (red).
Stone Jug Road
The Whakapapa River was fenced at the Stone Jug Road access this summer with funding from Genesis Energy and Horizons Regional Council. There are two crossing points with stiles on the river side of the fence. Please be aware that the fence may be turned on to allow for stock to lightly graze the area to keep weeds down. The Stone Jug property floods frequently so if the fence is damaged, please let us know.
There has been reports of bait fishing and set lines at Te Rena Road and we would appreciate your help in putting an end to the poaching in this area. If you witness any illegal activity, please get photos if it is safe to do so and record any vehicle registration numbers involved. Email any information on poaching or issues at the Stone Jug Property to email@example.com