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Fairweather Fisher - The Essential Q&A

Starting out at fishing can seem intimidating, we hear ya. But we’ve tracked down the right man to ask a few questions, even some of the so-called ‘basic’ and ‘silly’ ones you might be too embarrassed to ask. Thanks to local guide and fishing expert Dustin Habeber of Taupō Rod & Tackle, we gathered all the goods and insight that a Fairweather Fisher needs when planning their next trip to Taupō.

 [LT] What are the license requirements and regulations for fishing in Taupō?

[DH] A specific license is required to fish in the Lake Taupō district and these are valid from 1 July to 30 June each year. These can be purchased via the DOC website, or Googling ‘Taupō Fishing License’ to take you there. So there's a day license, which is actually a 24 hour license, and then there's one for adults, one for kids and there's a week license, as well as an annual license. There's also a senior license which is slightly cheaper. You can get a family license which includes two adults and up to four kids. Just be mindful of the date that you purchase. Regarding regulations, the key thing to know is that You are allowed to spin fish - with a single hook only, and spinning must be kept to the lakes. And you have to remain clear of the river mouth by 200 meters, an area denoted by a black and white or black and yellow marker posts.

[LT] What basic gear does a Fairweather Fisher [or beginner] need for fishing in Taupō?

[DH] Firstly, if you're a beginner or tourist, it’s commonplace to hire a spin rod and basic equipment from the shop. For spinning, the basic equipment essential is a spin rod. Most people come into the shop on arrival at Taupō and they ask what spoons to use and what soft plastics and so on. If you have a boat and you like fishing in the lake, particularly in the summer months, jigging is probably the most successful thing to do. For jigging, you can have a jig rod, which is made for this purpose. But even if you have a spinning rod with braid, you only need to buy a jig rig and clip it on with a sinker.

[LT] What kind of costs are involved for people new to fishing?

[DH] We hire gear at the shop which is a good place to start if you’re unsure about things. Ballpark figures are $40 for a rod, $50 for fly rod and waders, and you’ll need to buy your own flies and lures, etc. So with a 24-hour license, rod, waders and flies, you can get that for under $100. For purchasing a rod and reel setup, they start from $200 and they come fully kitted out with the line, the reel and the rod. For waders, the entry level is just over $100, and then you might want to have a net, which is around $50. So for under $400 you can get yourself a working set up to return to the water and get yourself started. If your budget goes beyond that, we have lots of great items for varying levels to get the Fairweather Fisher in the action.

[LT] What are easy access, non-intimidating places for beginner fishers to visit?

[DH] Well, in general, as a beginner, you probably want to fish sort of smaller to medium sized river. And a river like the Tongariro can be quite intimidating because it's a very big, very large body of water and people just don't know where to start on a big river. So the smaller streams are much easier. But also one thing kind of consider is the vegetation, you’ll need some extra room for casting to avoid putting your line in the trees. Again, we’ll happily steer people to the right place if they want to chat about places to go.

[LT] What kind of advice can you offer beginner fishers who are nervous about the steep learning curve and the complexity of the pursuit?

[DH] My main advice will be to get a guide because you learn fast. You learn from someone that's been doing it for years and you're going to pick up so much information in that one day that will take you years to learn by yourself. So taking a guide is really good to learn and just to get you going. Pretty quickly, you’ll be casting a fly rod and you will pick it up really fast. Other than that, if you really want to ‘DIY’ it, and you don't want to spend that money, YouTube is your friend as well. You can learn a lot from YouTube. And of course, go to local tackle shops, the local enthusiasts are a wealth of knowledge.

[LT] What methods of fishing and seasonal advice can you offer beginners?

[DH] We don't have a lot of tourists in the winter, but winter fishing can be very good. Most of the rivers in New Zealand are basically shut at that time, so they have a season. But in Taupō, most of the rivers are open, and you can actually fly fish in the winter during the spawning runs and it's very good. There's a massive amount of fish in the system and people love it. If you have a boat, or access to one, you can also do trolling, which works probably from spring to late autumn. Harling is very good in spring, early summer, as well as autumn going into winter.

[LT] What does success look like for beginner fishers?

[DH] The more time you spend on the water, the better you will be. It's like with anything, practice makes perfect. Obviously, people want to catch fish, but everyone has different expectations. I'm a guide, I see it all the time. For some people, they'll just expect to catch a fish straight away. And other people, they know it's a steep learning curve which involves a lot of practice. Sometimes it might just be the act of seeing a fish, and then hooking a fish. Fighting and landing a fish is the next part but these are all checkpoints of the fishing journey which success can be measured against. Fishing takes a lot of patience and a lot of time on the water.

Fishing shops in Taupo & Turangi

Whether you're an international tourist to the North Island or you've recently moved here, you will want to zero in on a fishing shop that meets your needs. This list of the Taupo and Turangi region’s fishing shops should make your search easier.  

Taupo fishing regulations 

Hiking guides & transport

Tongariro National Park 


Casting for recovery on the Tongariro River 

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