HomeEastern – RotoruaEastern-Rotorua: Where to fishLake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua

Lake Rotorua is an excellent fishery holding very high stocks of both brown and rainbow trout that can be caught on a variety of methods. Open all year it  provides ample opportunity for the dedicated angler as well as those seeking to catch their first fish. One of New Zealand's most prolific trout fishing lakes.
Fish type Brown and rainbow trout.
Situation Lake Rotorua is a relatively shallow lake connected to Lake Rotoiti at its northern end by the Ohau Channel. The township of Rotorua is situated at the southern extremity of the lake and a number of small settlements have developed around both eastern and western shores from this town.

Access map

Check conditions

View the MetService weather forecast.

View the lake level and rainfall.


Lake Rotorua is the largest lake in the Rotorua Lakes district but is also one of the shallowest, being only 25 metres deep at its deepest. At the southern end is the township of Rotorua though most of the lake is surrounded by open pasture land. Being a shallow lake means that the water temperature rises rapidly during the warmer summer  months which can result in an algae bloom that drastically reduces water visibility. The problem of this algae bloom is being addressed at present and appears to be declining.

There are a number of tributaries feeding into Lake Rotorua that provide excellent spawning conditions, making this a truly wild fishery. A large number of hatchery-reared trout are released into the lake each year as well, ensuring this lake has one of the highest catch rates of any in the district.

Lake Rotorua fishery provides anglers with excellent fishing throughout the year. While most fish caught  trolling or harling from boats, there is excellent shore-based fly fishing and spinning as well.

Fish numbers and size Rainbow trout make up the bulk of the population and within the 1.5 to 2 kg range. There is however an excellent population of large brown trout averaging around 3 kg. Fish numbers are very high.

With a road running around the lake and its proximity to Rotorua township and other settlements, access to the shoreline is excellent. For those wishing to fish by boat there are a number of public boat ramps around the lake. There is good easy access to most of the stream mouths, all of which can provide excellent  opportunities for shore based anglers especially in the warmer months. See the Lake Rotorua access map.


Lake Rotorua has been described as an angling paradise as it provides opportunities for all fishing methods. Trolling and harling is permitted anywhere on the lake except within 200 metres of the major tributary stream mouths. Trolling is very productive though anglers may need to use leadline to get the lures down to the correct depth.

The lake can be easily and safely waded into and many stream mouths can provide excellent fishing throughout the year for those fly and nymph fishing.

The fishing year

During spring, smelt move in close to the shore to spawn and the trout will follow to feed on them. This provides opportunities for the shoreline angler and particularly those wishing to target the large brown trout that come close to the shore during this time.

Over the summer good fishing can be found at the stream mouths as the trout movement to take advantage of the cooler water that these areas provide.

During the summer, especially when the lake warms up, fishing up the Waiteti Stream is also very good and 8 - 9lb trout are not unusual at the river mouth between January and March.

Another good summer fishing spot is the delta of the Awahou Stream where huge numbers of fish come in close to shore to take advantage of the cold spring-fed water from the stream. Note however, Awahou Stream itself is closed to fishing.

During autumn as the weather cools to move back into the deeper parts of the lake many the trolling is often the most successful method. Larger trout also congregate at the stream mouths preparing to run upstream to spawn.

During the winter months trolling is very productive. As the main spawning runs occur during this time, large numbers of trout can be targeted close to shore as the fish prepare to move up the tributary streams.

Recommended tackle

When trolling, it is usually necessary to get the lure down between four to 6 metres below the surface. This is usually done by using a leadline (play out between 4 - 6 colours), a deep-water express line or lead core line and a leader of around 3 to 5 metres.

Those wishing to fish with a fly are best served by using a weight six or seven rod and a floating or slow sinking line.

Recommended lures

Dry flies: During mid to late summer large terrestrial insects such as Cicadas, Blowflies and   Wasps are blown onto the water and will often attract cruising trout. Any pattern that represents these insects can be successful under the right conditions.

Nymphs: Lightly weighted nymphs such as Pheasants Tail, Hare and Copper, and Halfbacks can be very successful in fishing round the stream mouths and weed beds when using a floating line.

Wet flies / Streamers:
During spring and summer when the trout are chasing smelt, use flies such as a light Rabbit, Grey Ghost, Parsons Glory during the day, and dark patterns such as Fuzzy Wuzzy and Scotch Poacher at night. Other patterns such as Hamill's Killer and Mrs Simpson work well throughout the year.

Spinners: Spinners such as the Black Toby, Rapala, Cobra and Tasmanian Devil all work well at different times during the year. Different colours seem to work better than others at times so it may be necessary to experiment throughout the day.


There are a large number of tributaries that feed into Lake Rotorua. While none of these is large they are all important in that they provide sporting water for the trout as well as bringing cooler water into the lake during the warmer months.

The major tributaries are the:
- Awahou Stream (closed to all fishing)

- Ngongotaha Stream

- Waiteti Stream

- Utuhina Stream

- Hamurana stream.

The Ohau Channel drains Lake Rotorua into Lake Rotoiti and is a major fishery in its own right as trout move through it to spawn in the Lake Rotorua tributaries.

Regulations (1)
Applicable to Lake Rotorua except the areas below
Region Eastern region regulations
Season All year
Methods Artificial fly, spinner
Bag limit Trout: 8
Of which only 2 can be brown trout.
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum
Regulations (2)
Applicable to

The following streams and their tributaries which flow into Lake Rotorua:
- the Waiawhiro, Waiohewa, Waingaehe, Waimata and Waikuta streams
- the Hamurana stream above the Hamurana Road bridge

- the Utahina stream upstream of the Pukehangi Road bridge and all the tributaries of this stream
- the Awahou Stream

Region Eastern region regulations
Season Closed
Methods None
Bag limit N/A

Other fishing waters of the region


NZFishing.com is the complete guide to New Zealand trout and salmon fishing.

Advertise Here