Lake Taupo anglers are enjoying some of the best fishing in years as the world-renowned wild fishery returns limit catches of well conditioned trout.
Manawatu farmer Ian Angove said it had been years since fishing on the lake had been this productive.
Angove and son-in-law Ross Harrington have netted 12 trout in three days last week trolling off Kuratau.
The rainbow trout caught by the pair have weighed an average 1.5 kilograms, he said.
Angove had been fishing at Taupo since 1990.
"There seems to be a lot more smelt around for this time of year and the trout are in good condition, with a good pink flesh. It is one of the best years in a while." The water temperature was around 20 degrees Celsius, he said.
"Unusually they are not feeding in deep water but are close in."
Similar fishing experiences are also being related by other anglers on Lake Taupo.
"It's been superb, the best in years," said retired photographer Maurice Costello, of Omori.
"There's been big trout fly fishing on the lake edge caught off the Kuratau Spit, and boaties have been getting their limit in a couple of hours either jigging, trolling or harling."
Department of Conservation Taupo fishery area manager Dave Lumley said the abundance of smelt and zooplankton in the lake was contributing to anglers catching limit bags of good conditioned trout.
A limit bag on Lake Taupo is three fish, each over 40 centimetres long.
"It's a continuance of the good fishing which we noticed from early summer, from around mid-November. The fish are bigger and in superb condition, with many caught measuring between 42-45 centimetres."
Lumley said anglers were catching maiden fish, sometimes second spawners, which had not been takeable last summer.
The southern end of the lake, off Omori, Kuratau and Whareroa, was proving productive, as was Waihaha Bay on the western side of the lake, he said.
Climatic changes, floods and eruptions have taken a toll on the fishery in the past 10 years.
Angler numbers have fallen 22 per cent on Lake Taupo since 2005, while adult licence sales have decreased from 12,557 to 9,791 since 2006.
Taupo Hunting and Fishing owner Mike Stent said the fishery had improved each year since 2009.
"It's coming out of a hole and for the past three years the fishing has been getting better and better.
"The fishery is in good heart, we've seen big improvements and there is plenty of smelt around this year for the trout."
Stent hoped the improvements would encourage people to start fishing again.
"A lot of anglers stopped because of the lean years. What many don't understand is Taupo is a wild fishery and it slowed up because of floods and eruptions over recent years. Many of the spawning runs were wiped out."
- Sunday Star Times