Numbers of spawning fish are starting to show up throughout the Tongariro River now and this should continue over the next couple of months especially after some rain.
In the past three days over 80 fish have passed through the Waipa fish trap, which is only a few dozen short of what passed through the trap for the entire month of August.
After a downturn in the size and condition of trout in the Taupo fishery since 2007 river anglers are definitely seeing signs that the Taupo fishery is recovering, with both our monitoring and anglers reporting an improvement in fish condition in particular.
Fishing on the rivers in the last month or so has been tough, with surveys showing a catch rate of 0.14 fish per hour (1 fish every 7.1 hrs) for the Tongariro River, which is very poor for August. This can probably be attributed to the low and clear river conditions and the lack of any decent rainfall throughout August. Nevertheless anglers kept some nice rainbows on the Tongariro with fish averaging 472mm & 1.4kg with many of these fish being in great condition.
Fish caught and kept by anglers on the Tauranga Taupo River averaged 496mm & 1.2kg. The Hinemaiaia River has been the pick of the bunch for anglers during August with some decent catch rates being recorded on this river, particularly between the bridge and the Cliff Pool. Some anglers have done very well either first thing in the morning or last thing at night and some very nice plump fish have been taken, averaging 457mm & 1.5kg.
Fish numbers have also been low during August at the Waipa Stream trap. August saw a total of 112 rainbows and 16 browns pass through. Only 66mm of rain was recorded at the trap site during August and in comparison, a considerably wetter August 2010 saw over 440mm of rainfall recorded at the trap site last year which resulted in over 300 rainbows and 55 browns passing through the trap. The fish this year have been delayed but with some rain in the forecast, we should see decent numbers of rainbows in particular pass through the Waipa Stream fish trap during September.
August saw the completion of the 18th consecutive year of trapping at the Te Whaiau Stream, the main spawning tributary of Lake Otamangakau. The run of rainbow trout through this trap was the fourth highest since trapping began and averaged 547mm & 1.9kg with an average condition factor of 42.3. Overall, these fish were very similar to those trapped last season. The brown trout run totalled 915 fish for the season with fish averaging 557mm & 2.1 kg with an average condition factor of 42.5 and is again on par with fish trapped in more recent years. The brown trout run was down slightly on more recent years but has essentially remained stable over the last decade. The general condition of rainbows was down slightly and may be a result of the larger population of fish within the system particularly over the last 4 years. The population of rainbows is starting to drop since the peak in 2008 and when Lake Otamangakau opens for fishing next month it will be interesting to see whether this decline continues and anglers see an improvement in fish size and quality.
With rain in the forecast over the next week, anglers should expect the runs of spawning rainbows to increase considerably and for the river fishing to improve significantly! Likewise we are cautiously optimistic that the size and condition of trout will continue to improve as the season progresses.