Holidaymakers were being invited to catch their own wild food in Rotorua over last Easter weekend – in the form of trout in prime condition.

Some good fish up to three kilograms are being caught in Lakes Tarawera, Okataina, and Rotoiti says Eastern Fish & Game Officer Matt Osborne.

“In Tarawera fish of 2.5 kgs have been caught, he says. “ They’re in good condition because there’s a lot of food around at the moment – plenty of smelt in the lakes that trout feed on and the fish are packing on condition as we head into spawning time. It means these are excellent eating fish, just right for the pan.”

The wet weather forecast for Easter weekend could see more fish moving to the mouths of streams around the lakes, Matt Osborne says, as the fish begin to move upstream to spawn.

There are also reports of trout returning to the Fish & Game hatchery’s release sites on lakes such as Rotoiti and Okataina. “Anglers are starting to congregate there and are catching fish.”

Holidaymakers from Auckland and other North Island centres don’t necessarily need local knowledge to try their hand at trout fishing. Local visitor centres and fishing stores have information on fishing guides who can be hired – even for a short period – along with charter boat operators. “Most people have an image of highly skilled fly fishermen but there are many other ways to successfully catch trout,” says Matt. A spinning rod for casting from the shoreline is something most people can afford and it’s an easy skill to master, he says. Trolling during the day can also be very successful at this time of year.

Trout are a delicious eating fish which can be prepared in a variety of ways, says Matt. It can be eaten not only pan fried, but baked, smoked, curried or eaten raw in a sashimi form.

Some visitors may not be aware of family licences which are available – allowing more than one person to fish legally under one licence, says Matt. A season family licence costing $147 covers mum, dad and up to four children or juniors.

An adult winter season licence is only $68 adults, and $13.50 juniors (aged 12 to 17), and for those who want to give the sport a quick go without too much of any outlay can buy a 24 hour licence, at only $22.50 for adults.

“If the weather puts you off and you still want to get up close to a trout, a visit to the Fish & Game Trout Hatchery is a great family activity, a great spot to see trout in a natural setting.”

The hatchery, open to the public right through Easter, is an outdoor education facility in its own right set in park like surroundings on Paradise Valley Road. The historic hatchery building itself dates back to 1938. The hatchery has interpretation panels with information on the trout’s life cycle, and there are trout in large tanks for a close look at their magnificent colouring.

Outside, there are trout in a number pools being raised to re-stock the local lakes. “A show pool has full-sized male and female fish in their prime, swimming around in the stream fed pool with crystal clear water. If your children have never seen fish – trout in particular up close – this is the perfect place for it,” says Matt.

Fish & Game officers will be actively patrolling the lakes this weekend checking fishing licences and compliance with the rules. Fishers are reminded that Ruato Bay at Lake Rotoiti is now off limits for boat fishing.

Lakes Tarawera, Okataina and Rotoiti close for boat based fishing at the end of June. Fishing from the shoreline continues through winter in selected areas until lakes re-open to all angling on October 1.

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