HomeEastern – RotoruaEastern-Rotorua: Where to fishOhau Channel

Ohau Channel

The Ohau Channel links Lake Rotorua and Lake Rotoiti and provides excellent fishing for the large numbers of trout that migrate between the two lakes.

Fish type, numbers and size

Both rainbow and brown trout are found in the Ohau Channel. These can reach very impressive sizes, particularly early (October) and late (April) in the season.

As this is the main route for trout to move between the two lakes, the number of fish in the channel varies but can be very high at times. When the trout emerge into Lake Rotoiti on the spawning run they are generally in prime condition, and so the channel can hold large numbers of prime condition rainbow and brown trout. Trophy trout of 4.5kg (10lb) are caught every year, usually browns. An 8.6kg (18lb) was caught during the 2005-2006 season and a 9kg brown was landed in 2003.


The Ohau Channel is an outlet for Lake Rotorua that meanders from Lake Rotorua over flat, open farmland for approximately 2 km before it enters Lake Rotoiti.  There is a small weir just below where the water from Lake Rotorua enters the channel itself. The pool just below this weir is a very popular spot for anglers.


Access map

Check conditions View the MetService weather forecast.

As there are limited spawning opportunities in Lake Rotoiti, trout move through the channel during the late autumn and winter months to take advantage of the spawning streams that feed into Lake Rotorua.

During spring (October and November) trout flock to the channel to chase the large number of migrating smelt that enter the channel to spawn, and the abundant food source means they can grow to trophy sizes.

The most popular places to fish this waterway are at either end: where the channel enters over a weir from Lake Rotorua; or where it spills into Lake Rotoiti at the delta.

Opening day

October 1, opening day, at the Ohau Channel is a big occasion of the year. Many anglers arrive and claim their spot hours before the 5am official opening time. Fish and Game records show they will on average catch  a fish each 2 hours with an average weight of 3kg a fish.

Ohau Channel diversion wall The Ohau diversion wall on Lake Rotoiti was completed in July. It is designed to stop water and nutrients flowing from Lake Rotorua into the main body of Lake Rotoiti via the Ohau Channel and so significantly improve the lake’s water quality over time. The Environment Bay Of Plenty website has information about the Ohau channel diversion wall.

There is easy access to the channel as it enters from Lake Rotorua and good access to the delta area as it spills out to Lake Rotoiti.

The central section is less fished as it flows over private farmland; permission to fish this section is generally readily given.

During the building of the Ohau channel diversion wall, the:

  • Rotoiti Delta boat ramp near the Ohau Channel
    will be closed
  • Okere Arm access lane has been removed
  • Okere Arm is restricted to 5 knots from
    the 5 knot/200 metre buoys to the south of Namaste Point
    (For maps and more details see
    Ohau channel diversion
    at the Environment Bay Of Plenty website.)

See the Lake Rotorua access map.

Methods This is fly fishing-only water. To get the fly down requires a fast sinking line or very heavily weighted nymphs, especially at the very popular weir where the channel begins and flows over a deep hole that provides excellent holding water for the big fish.
Recommended tackle Ultra fast-sinking lines that can get lures down deep are preferred though the summer fisherman can also have success with a floating line and weighted nymphs. A weight 6 to 8 rod is ideal.

Smelt flies work well in the channel day and night, on fast-sinking lines cast on heavy rods (around a weight 8 is usual). It is essential that the tackle is heavy enough for the line to reach the bottom as soon as possible after it hits the water.

Recommended lures

Use a large, weighted dark nymph such as Hare and Copper or a Rough Nymph in size 10 to 14 or egg patterns such as a Globug or Muppit when trout are migrating through the channel during spawning runs.

Dry flies: This waterway is not highly regarded for dry fly fishing. During the height of summer cricket and cicada patterns can induce a rise when there are plenty of these insects about.

Wet flies / Streamers: Use smelt patterns such as Grey Ghost, Doll fly, yellow and green Rabbit and Jack Spratt during the day, and dark patterns such as Fuzzy Wuzzy,  Scotch Poacher or lumo flies (such as Black Marabou Lumo) during the night.

Regulations (1)
Applicable to Ohau Channel from the outlet weir at Lake Rotorua to the landmark approx 200 metres downstream
Region Eastern region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Jun
Methods Fly fishing only.
No boats are permitted to anchor in the Ohau Channel.
Bag limit Trout: 8 total
Brown trout: 2 maximum
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum
Regulations (2)
Applicable to  Ohau Channel within the landmark 200 metres from the weir at Lake Rotorua to Lake Rotoiti confluence.
Region Eastern region regulations
Season 1 Oct-30 Jun
Methods Fly and spin fishing
No boats are permitted to anchor in the Ohau Channel.
Bag limit Trout: 8 total
Brown trout: 2 maximum
Size limit (cm) 350mm minimum

Other fishing waters of the region