Readers of TRM Daily Reports wisely prefer our inmates to answer for us.
One of the constant queries is about how hard is the fishing at Lake O?
Hopefully this very interesting well composed revealing blog might answer that.
(Images below on right by Tim Hughes from West Island)
Lake O is such a fascinating lake. Many TRM inmates are hopelessly happily addicted to Lake O. Others find it a strange enchanting yet forbidding environment, as it is such an isolated alpine location exposed to all the worst weather and alpine elements. But many still love that rugged manly raw environment.
It was originally created as part of the Tongariro hydro power scheme by a dam at the top of the W(h?)anganui River providing a shallow lake – more like a large puddle. It traps the water flowing via a tunnel from the Whakapapa River, from snow melt off Mt. Ruapehu, then spews it through a controlled canal to Lake Rotoaira from where another tunnel sends it to spin the turbines in the Tokaanu Power Station, then via the tail race into Lake Taupo. I am so pleased you could follow that…
For many purist anglers it provides their complete trout fishing package.
For many others, it confirms the wacky eccentric characteristic of trout anglers is justified.
It has been established as the Taupo trophy lake for about 40 years. Many did not think it would last. But it just goes on and on producing HUGE fat wild trophy trout season after season.
DOC appear to have given up on managing their fish trap out there, previously used to keep records of numbers and size of breeding stock – see short video below. Then last year the road access around the top of the lake was blocked off.
Fortunately they saved their reputation by the recent addition of a much needed loo at the launching ramp and plans recently announced to develop angler access walking tracks from the boat ramp to the canal and along the lake edge, to more than make up for the loss of the fish trap statistics.
Lake O has a well earned reputation for being very hard.
It is very hard water to read as there is no definite pattern. The weed beds drive anglers to despair.
On some days over 20 boats of all descriptions may be on the lake and it only needs one idiot to speed and create a wake that ruins the fishing prospects for all the others.
It can be so frustrating to see BIG trout feeding but ignoring everything you cast at them.
This very special TRM inmate was reluctant to feature and prefers to remain anon. So we shall call him “K” (for Kayak).
He started keeping a diary (just for us!) of every trout he landed (“canoed”?) since 2012. A tremendous dedicated effort for a quiet achiever, with over six years of daily catch records.
All you ever wanted to know about fishing Lake O
As such, this blog is strongly recommended as compulsory study for Lake O novices but will also be of particular interests to many lake and river anglers who have dismissed Lake O as being too difficult.
It is called Lake “O” because often that is what you will catch – Zero. Or it may be because that is often the usual air temperature – zero! So you have been warned.
Our inmate angler, K, is primarily a holiday angler who turns up at the worst most crowded and busiest times each year. Despite that he remains an easy going relaxed type of individual who simply thrives on his trout fishing.
As such he usually has to compete with many other boats and rafts and canoes/kayaks on the lake when angler pressure spooks most trout.
So how many fish per day do you imagine he would average for 100 days spread over a six year period?.
Go on – write it down before you change your mind!
We promise it will surprise you… We will even help you.
As his fishing here has been limited to peak holiday times it has had to factor in many horrible cold windy wet days when his first priority was survival and he was ‘skunked’… OK?
His boat is a simple cheap sit-on surf ski type of kayak not designed for fishing at all. Very basic. No big investment necessary.
All it needs is never-give-up attitude and perseverance.
The images above on left are of another young angler – Izaak “Rod-breaker” Mischefski from Taranaki back in 2011 – to model some of the necessary skills and techniques.
Anglers note: his flower power surfie shorts are definitely not compulsory. They are not ‘cool’. They are not approved by purists. They are not even discretionary as they may frighten the trout. K does not wear them. Sporting Life and Simms do not stock them – yet?
K’s strategic method varies from drifting over the weed beds looking for rising fish to targeting certain honey pots – holes in the weeds around the lake edge. Just the usual reading and adjusting to the conditions.
The kayak images are also to reveal K is not an elderly angler – he is much younger and fitter than the usual crusty retired Lake O fisho. (I did not say ‘old’!)
TRM do not even have a photo of “K”. He is far too smart to allow us to expose his identity (or he may have been throwing a sickie and skipping work?.)
So these 2011 images above of Lake O evangelist Izaac and his flower-power shorts on the kayak are to broadly illustrate the sort of technique and method necessary for landing and releasing them. Thank you to Izaac…
Before you rush out to ‘invest’ in a kayak and flowery shorts, the other images on left illustrate the usual type of small boat preferred on Lake O. All are successful. Small boats can cruise in close over the weed beds where larger cabin cruisers cannot.
Another inmate and Lake O disciple, Barry Stuck, a naval architect from Hamilton, displays his more unusual custom raised-seat design for a Lake O trout hunting machine on left…
Comparatively a kayak angler preferably needs to be a surfer (to even own such shorts?) with good coordination of balance and skills and confidence to handle them without tipping over when they try to land the giant trout.
Modern kayaks are much more stable and safe. (So are TRM rafts – see below…)
Apart from always staying at a world famous trout fishing mecca and wearing a lucky hat, K has no special advantages – but factor in his immense enthusiasm and dedication for fishing Lake O. Except for his shorts, his fishing gear is standard. He ties his own flies – mainly small pheasant tail variations.
We should mention his powers of perseverance are exceptional, particularly in inclement polar weather conditions. But he did not like to waste a single day during his limited time at Lake O.
Now down to the nitty gritty stuff. We tried to prepare a classy sophisticated “spread sheet” to identify any trends but it was too much info for any fishos quick simple blog analysis.
As the “averaged” result did not vary much, season to season, (Lake O is closed off during winter spawning time) and no pattern emerged to support any one time of the year over another, the schedule below should be adequate.
Hence it is presented in a simple annual survey instead.
2013 – 53 landed in 10 days = 5.3 per day.
2014 – 103 landed in 20 days = 5.15 per day.
2015 – 122 landed in 26 days = 4.69 per day.
2016 – 285 landed in 34 days = 8.38 per day.
2017 – 66 landed in 10 days = 6.60 per day.
(up to November 25th)
Overall – 629 in 100 days = 6.29 per day…
Wow! And he released every one…
Absolutely brilliant Lake O fishing information thanks K – to save him any embarrassment we have deliberately not named him. But if you happen to stay at TRM during national holiday times you should catch him in twilight hours as he leaves at day break and returns at dusk. He can stay here for a week and we don’t even see him.
It is difficult to find a suitable comparison to indicate how good his catch rate is. The closest we could find was from the classic book “Trout at Taupo” by O. S. Hintz where his diaries were meticulously maintained from 1946 to 1960.
Over that period, 14 seasons averaging about 30 days per season, fishing mainly on the Waitahanui river and the mouth (picket fence style), he averaged 3 per day of approximately 6 pound.
In terms of numbers, K has doubled that, and his average weight is similar. Apart from K’s ability, that confirms what a remarkable trophy lake we have at Turangi. So don’t tell a soul!
Below – 80 year young Stuart Nicol from Australia demonstrates TRM’s “waterstrider raft technique to demonstrate how easy it can be…