DANNY : DE HEKNotable Waters: Kai Iwi Lakes, Waipapa River

New Zealand’s most northerly trout fishing region extends from Wellsford to Cape Reinga and embraces an area of scenic beauty and rich colonial history.

The mild climate of the ‘Winterless North’ produces temperatures above the optimum range for sports fish. However, rainbow stocks have adapted surprisingly well and there are ample fishing opportunities in four major lakes and numerous mountain streams. Rainbows tolerate the warmer conditions best while the modest population of browns inhabit the cool wooded stretches of rivers where angler pressure is low.

The local Fish and Game Council have quite liberal regulations, which allow for fly, spinning and bait fishing all year round. In winter the trout tend to become more active and anglers who persevere with sight fishing along the riverbanks can score fine fish up to 3 kg. Most rivers pass through farmland over much of their length, so landowner permission needs to be sought. There is a daily limit of two trout with a minimum length of 300 mm.

The Kai Iwi Lakes, just north of Dargaville, provide the perfect setting for a delightful fishing holiday with good camping and a range of water sports. The lakes are stocked with fingerling rainbows from the Rotorua Hatchery – progeny of Lake Tarawera stock, which grow to 3 kg. in these lakes. The trout feed on koura (freshwater crayfish), snails, smelt, nymphs and other larvae. Best fishing is from May to October when nymphs and streamers seem to produce good results.

The Waipapa River offers exciting sport fishing all year round producing rainbows up to 2 kg. – well nourished on a diet of mayfly, dragonfly, caddis and cicada. The Wairua River flowing into the Kaipara Harbour has trout averaging around 1 kg. as does its tributary, the Kaihu River. Lake Tomorata, out from Wellsford, contains rainbows of similar size.

Charter boats in Whangaroa Harbour and the Bay of Islands offer the novel challenge of lightweight sport fishing for pelagic sea fish. Tremendous battles can be fought with lightning fast predators like kahawai, kingfish and skipjack tuna, using spinners or saltwater flies on threadline gear.

Guided fly-fishing in wilderness rivers and Northland’s dune lakes can be arranged in Auckland and Whangarei.