The headwaters are found in the Kaweka and Kaimanawa ranges. From there, it flows about 124km to the Pacific Ocean near the town of Mohaka.
As the river flows from mountain to sea, it provides a variety of angling opportunities. You could start at the Mohaka township and fish the river mouth, where sea-run trout can be caught feeding on whitebait in November. From there, you could drive to fish any access point from State Highway 2 to 5 and experience the challenge of fishing deep pools and powerful currents. Finally you could hike into remote upper reaches that are renowned for trophy-sized fish.
It is these upper reaches along with the challenging middle sections of the Mohaka that has given it such a big name here in New Zealand and even across the globe. It draws anglers from all over as they try their luck for a Mohaka trophy. Many guides operate on the Mohaka providing anglers with an experienced hand at catching a fish. Some guides and adventure operators also offer the chance to access fishing spots that no other can through the use of inflatable rafts and even helicopter. These methods enable anglers access to areas of the river that otherwise would be difficult and sometimes impossible to reach, giving anglers that increased opportunity at a trophy sized fish.
Like most rivers all fishing methods can be used to a certain level of success on the Mohaka. It is choosing when and where to use each method that will produce that higher success rate. For instance, wetlining is ideal for fishing the areas around the river mouth, using flies that replicate smelt and whitebait, this being especially successful during the whitebait season in November. Spinning is great for young kids or beginners who aren’t capable of fly fishing, it is also very productive for fishing vast wide areas of river and areas that are in high flow, as spinning enables the angler to cover a large area of water in one pass. Dry fly fishing is ideal during the summer months when the temperatures are warm and trout are feeding heavily on the surface as hatches such as caddis occur. The pick of all methods however, for most rivers and this being the same for the Mohaka, is nymphing. Nymphing is very rewarding as an angler can fish both deep and shallow runs successfully, it is also a very accurate way to fish as an experienced angler can know where his nymphs are the entire time, this being especially important when sight fishing. So by knowing when and where to use each of these methods, your success as an angler should increase.
General Mohaka Fishing Information
Upper Reaches Mahaka River
Primarily remote back country water with the only public road access at the Blue Gums or Hotsprings in the Kaweka Forest Park, Pakaututu Road bridge, and via the poled route of Taharua Road. All types of flies, nymphs and spoons are suitable. Larger and heavier lures give best results due to the depth and strength of flow of the river. Large browns are regularly caught following heavy beech seeding years with the resulting explosion in the mouse population.
Tributaries in this section include the Oamaru, Kaipo, Makino and Makahu Rivers. These are smaller waters and generally require lighter gear and a more discrete approach. Topographical Maps NZMS 260 - U19, U20 and V20 provide more detail. Refer to access points 1-3.
Middle Reaches Mohaka River
The river and some of its tributaries can be reached from a number of sites accessible by vehicle off the Napier Taupo Road (SH5). Rainbow trout are more commonly landed than brown trout in this stretch. Similar fishing methods to the upper reaches. The river from this area down is deceptively large and powerful. The most successful anglers use gear that allows the lure to fish deep enough to reach the trout. Be prepared to add weight to nymphs or use large spinners.
Upper Reaches Mohaka River
A large area of water is accessible from a number of points off the Napier- Wairoa Road (SH2). There is the possibility of some large sea run trout in the spring. Large streamer flies and spinners will be more suitable due to the size of the river. Topographical Maps 260 - V19 and W19 are useful.
Refer to access points 10-14.
The Mohaka River has a number of tributaries that are exceptional fisheries in their own right. Access to the tributaries can be physically challenging and in some cases you may need a permit to enter the land adjacent to them.
Originates in the Kaweka Forest Park just upstream from the Te Puia Lodge. It is a small back country river that fishes well early in the season. As with most rivers of its size care in presentation is required to achieve success.
As with the Makino it fishes well early in the season and requires care in your approach to achieve success.
The Ripia enters the Mohaka downstream of the Pakaututu Road Bridge on the true left side. It is a fast flowing bouldery river that requires care when wading and can hold good numbers of trout. A strip of public land runs up the true right bank of the river for approximately 10km. The land adjacent to this is privately owned.
This little known tributary runs into the Mohaka River near the SH5 bridge. It can be accessed from Potter Road. A permit is required to access this road. This can be obtained from Rayonier (06-834-0713 or 0274 477 0815).
Two lesser known tributaries of the Mohaka River. Both present access difficulties due to a lack of public access and the nature of the terrain. The upper reaches of both rivers within the Whirinaki Forest Park can be accessed by aircraft. Permits are required from Rayonier New Zealand (06-834 0713 or 0274 477 0815) to access the Te Hoe River from the confluence of the Mohaka River.
The Mohaka River is open all year round downstream from the confluence of the Mangatainoka River, excluding tributaries. The tributaries and the upper river open for fishing on 1 October and close on 1 May. The Waipunga River, downstream of the falls, excluding tributaries is open all year around. There is no minimum size limit for trout caught in the Mohaka River, or its tributaries, and both fly and spin fishing are permitted.
The following bag limits apply:
- Above the SH5 bridge (excluding tributaries) the limit is 2 sports fish;
- Below the SH5 bridge (excluding tributaries) the limit is 4 sports fish;
- All tributaries a 1 sports fish limit applies;
Regulations may change and anglers should read the sports fishing guide for the current regulations.