Every year TRM get asked hard direct questions that we struggle with about fishing opportunities for Lake Otamangakau late in the season – before the season ends at the end of May. So this is in anticipation…
The popularity of this lake increases every season. By the end of March TRM had over 60 unit nights booked by keen fly fishing groups and clubs aiming at Lake O.
Nearly all are from across the ditch – West Island. They know…
Usually, if there is anything ‘usual’ about Lake O, we get a reasonable idea of the conditions from the anglers thrashing the lake over the Easter holiday period. TRM have regular fishos at the same time each year so it is interesting to compare their results.
Unfortunately this year produced probably the worst results ever in the last twelve years we have been here but that had nothing to do with the fishing.
It was all to do with the awful wet windy cold weather. This was further compounded by Genesis (the hydro power company who control the river flows and lake levels) who closed off the canals for over a week before Easter to inspect their tunnels leading from Lake Rotoaira.
This resulted in extremely high lake levels which hid the weed beds and added to the difficulties. It needs the cold flow from the canal from Whakapapa River and through the outlet to Lake Rotoaira to improve the fishing.
One regular from TRM who has fished Lake O for many years caught (& released) 16 over the Easter break. An average of four per day might appear reasonable for most anglers but does not reflect his dogged perseverance and the time he spent fishing in freezing alpine conditions. Several times there were only one or two survivors still fishing on the lake during bleak conditions including freezing showers. At the same time it was snowing up on Ruapehu and the Tongariro National Park.
By comparison, during the same period in Easter 2016 he caught 52. It can be that good. It can also be very frustrating to sight several trophy sized trout that refuse everything offered to them. So you are warned. This higher level of difficulty is exactly what many serious anglers want to test their skill levels to the ultimate.
Do not be misled by DOC trap reported results from Lake O. Every year anglers advise of far more real trophy (north of ten pound) trout being caught than ever get weighed and registered through the DOC trap.
The bigger older wiser trout must have their own sneaky spawning redds in the other small feeding streams apart from the Te Whaiau Stream and located in the shallow northern and southern arms often not much bigger than drains leading into the main Lake O. – see map.
Lake O can be fished from wading along shoreline and casting back to the edge and retrieving. Aussies train up on the Tasmanian Lakes and are good at this. It is hopeless to try to recommend which flies. Some heave Chernobyl-ish bugs, others teeniest nymphs, even glo-bugs work. But most casting is from boats.
Just remember the lake is shallow – do not practice with the Tongariro depth-charged woolly buggery gear as it will be too heavy and snag in the weeds. A more sensitive touch is required. Being Lake O, they are either all successful or more often nothing will work.
If ever a lake was designed to humiliate skilled anglers, Lake O is top of the list. Be prepared for four seasons in a day compounded by endless changes of flies, smaller and smaller until you can hardly thread them, some trout require their own specific stalking plan, get used to altering tippet lengths, changing drift patterns, mending, mending, and lots of frustration from being ignored for some like me who have yet to mature enough to develop the patience to persevere. Others thrive in that environment as they explain that is how it should be?
The variety of boats is similarly extraordinary. Water craft might be a better description with such a mixture of canoes, kayaks, power boats, catamarans, runabouts, rafts, float tubes, water striders, basically anything that will float. The secret is to keep speed to a minimum so as not to disturb the trout and make sure they do not draw too much so they can drift quietly over the weed beds.
Some prefer to anchor up next to the weed beds, others drift, there are no standard rules. Whichever craft catches fish on the day will be the best until some other floating contraption hooks up.
I should qualify the above comments – since I live locally and report so regularly with such obviously knowledgeable authority on the Tongariro River (?) and on other fishy places like Lake O, some might imagine that TRM’s reports of giant trout habitats etc. are based on wide personal experience?
Alas, I confess I am still a novice at Lake O. I also admit that no-one has interviewed the trout – yet…
I keep promising to tick Lake O off my ‘bucket list’ and seriously get to grips with it from a water strider raft, but each season the intoxicating lure of the Tongariro River (my regular ‘office’) postpones my plans.
My few visits to the canals are usually justified for roll casting practice. But the few times I have hooked up with one of those Lake O ‘oxen’ still make it a particularly memorable fishing experience. It really is a special ‘wild’ (not stocked like some F&G controlled Rotorua lakes) trout fishery. That may be why it is so addictive?
This is confirmed every year by the number of anglers – both local Kiwis and from overseas – targeting Lake O.
As usual, TRM comments above are based on hearsay feedback from inmates who are always absolutely reliable and totally honest about Lake O.