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Professional fly fishing guide Dave Wood quickly spotted the silver lining after Covid-19 snatched away overseas visitors and battered his business. Now, he has more time to cast for joy.
“I can’t get enough,” the Taupo angler says of his compulsion to wade into a river with a fly rod. “I’m on the river nearly every day but the last fish I caught the other day felt very much the same as the first fish I caught when I was six years old. Trout living in such amazing, beautiful places, that’s the reason it’s held me my whole life.
“And I’ve always fished on my days off. There’s a spring creek less than 10 minutes from home, so I’ll often get up early and fish for half an hour before breakfast.”
It’s been 45 years since Dave’s Scottish dad placed a fibreglass rod in his hands and sparked a lifelong obsession. Up until March last year, the guide spent 29 out of 30 days with mostly-international Poronui Lodge clients during peak months. Loyal Kiwi clients still use his New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association services, though, booking for three or four or even nine days at a time.
These days, he is able to devote much more time to fishing alongside his three sons, aged 14, 18 and 21.
So what does he tell his boys when they fish together?
It’s pretty red hot right now. This is peak fish flow in the Lake Taupo fishery, with trout moving up all the rivers and streams to spawn. All the females are growing ova, they’ll have tens of thousands of them on board and they’re waiting for that swell in the river height.
This definitely happens later than it used to. When I was young, the first weekend in May was duck shooting and the second weekend in May, I’d come to Taupo and go trout fishing with my dad. Now, we’re looking at late July or early August.
In the winter months, people should be aiming for large stone flies. Which is a river invertebrate that’s quite prolific at this time of year. You should be using pheasant tails, which is a mayfly pattern. And egg patterns as well. When the spawning runs are on, an egg pattern can be very successful. Watch the weather, too. I’m watching MetVUW like a hawk. If I’m on a river that likes high water, it’s a little bit dirty and there’s a sou’wester at the same time, I know exactly where I’m going.
Guided Fly Fishing for Brown and Rainbow Trout in the stunning Lake Taupo Region. Chris Jolly Outdoors' specialist fly fishing guides have the local knowledge and expertise to ensure both novice and experienced angers have the trip of a lifetime.$890 - $1,710
First Cast Fly fishing’s head guide Dave Wood has great knowledge of the rivers around the Central North Island. He’s a senior guide at Poronui Ranch and contracts to the other main lodges in the area.$350 - $750
While surrounded by spectacular scenery, cast a dry fly over a big, wild trout in a crystal-clear stream at Poronui. Choose from easily accessible waters or take a helicopter flight into the mountains to uncover more private, idyllic fishing spots.$840 - $2,310
Tongariro Lodge Guides are the most experienced guided fly fishing operator in Taupo for over 36 years now. Guides provide access to the best wilderness trout fishing in the world by 4WD, boat, raft and helicopter.$550 - $950
If you're not local to the Taupo region, it can be hard to know where to best fishing spots are. So, to help you on your way, we’ve compiled our top fishing spots.