The Waitahanui River is a small crystal clear spring-fed river that enters Lake Taupo’s eastern shoreline approximately 10km South of Taupo. The riverbank is surrounded by beautiful native bush which holds a healthy population of native birds. Often less busy than other rivers it is easy to see the attraction of the Waitahanui Rivers’ tranquil setting to anglers.
The river produces anglers with a number of exciting fishing opportunities ranging from joining the famous “picket fence” at the river mouth targeting fat lake rainbows to stalking large brown trout higher up with light gear.
The river holds good numbers of rainbow trout all year round and is well known for its summer through autumn brown trout fishing. While the brown trout are most prevalent in numbers early in the year the river does hold some resident brown trout all year round. Rainbow trout on average weighing between 3-4lb with many reach much larger sizes while brown trout are often much larger averaging between 5-7lb reaching up to and beyond the golden 10lb figure.
The crystal clear waters of the Waitahanui often prove challenging to anglers when compared to larger waters in the area such as the Tongariro River and the Tauranga-Taupo. In these conditions stealth in the form of delicate casting and light-footed wading is of high importance. Lighter tippet and smaller often prove much more successful in these conditions.
Being a smaller spring-fed catchment the river is less affected by heavy rainfall making it an attractive option to anglers when other local rivers are experiencing discolouration or flooding
Public Access Points
The river has two main public access points.
Those who wish to fish the lower-middle reaches and/or the mouth are the best parking on the downstream true left of the SH1 bridge. From the bridge, anglers can walk up and fish.
To access the upper reaches use the car park at the end of Blake Rd is available to the public.
It is advised that anglers are cautious and stick to the tracks and signposted areas as there have been land disputes over angler access in the past.
The map below shows the public car park off SH1.
Fly Fishing Methods
The clear waters of the Waitahanui River lends itself to a number of methods for anglers. It is recommended to use lighter gear (3-6 weight fly rods) and smaller tippets as the water is very clear and the fish can spook easily.
The Waitahanui is well suited to dry fly and dry/dropper methods. Early summer lends itself to smaller dry flies. As the season progresses and cicadas begin to hatch, larger terrestrials also do very well.
Popular daytime dry flies include Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis, Blue Humpy and Cicadas.
Some nights in the summer months come with an evening rise, caddisflies are a great start at this time of night.
Nymphing the Waitahanui River can produce all year round. Being a small clear water it is best to go without the indicator. You can fish your nymph without one, watching the tip of your line for strikes or put a nymph below a dry fly. If you do choose to use an indicator make sure it is as small as possible in a less intrusive colour such as white.
Flies worth trying are Hare n Coppers, Pheasant Tails and Caddis Nymphs. Glo bugs and other egg patterns are worth trying in winter.
While not particularly known for its euro nymphing like some other rivers in the Taupo region, it can also be a productive method in the right pools and runs. A black and white sighter as oppose to fluorescent colours is often beneficial.
While less popular in recent years, wet Fly fishing can also be productive in some pools on the Waitahanui River. Streamer flies such as Wooly Buggers, Red Setters and Black Rabbits can fish well. Using wee wets such as a march brown can also catch summer fish chasing emergers. It may also allow ‘purists’ to catch a fish when there is no hatch.