Turangi Fishing Report 2 June 2022

Brian Willson, professional guide, 021667867, brings us his weekly fly fishing report from Turangi for the Central North Island lakes and rivers.

Hello fellow fly fishers,

Well, it has been a strange period this last week with very different weather conditions.

Last weekend saw the New Zealand woman’s social competition on the Tongariro River. One of the competitors, a client of mine, stayed with me for a couple of nights. The river was very low and clear and while a few fish were caught it would be fair to say that it was pretty hard going on the whole. I had a look at the Hinemaiaia River and it was very low as was the Tauranga Taupo.

Rain was definitely needed to get things moving and on Monday a good burst of rain arrived. On Tuesday I decided to have another look at the Hinemaiaia and while it had a bit of colour in it, it still wasn’t at the height I like at this time of year, perhaps another 100mm higher would be ideal.

Strangely, as in the weekend just gone, there were not a lot of fishermen on the river. There were more fish in the river, however, and I did have some early success as did a few of the other anglers that were there. Drifting egg-style flies was doing the trick here.

I vacated the Hinemaiaia around lunchtime and decided to investigate the Tauranga Taupo River. I was met by one angler at the carpark who suggested I drive back out as the river was dirty and unfishable. I thanked him for his advice but proceeded to walk up the river track anyway.

About a kilometre up the track I entered the river at a likely spot and surveyed the situation. I used to live on the beachfront in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and prior to surf casting for snapper I would always spend a good ten minutes studying the sea. By doing this I could accumulate valuable knowledge that would assist me in choosing a spot to fish. Experience taught me where the holes (and therefore snapper) were. I had to locate where there were the least breaking waves and thereby the deepest water. Not easy to do but after a while it became obvious to me.

The same can be said for a swollen river. A plan has to be implemented. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail!! The photo shows the state of the river, quite discoloured and not inviting to fish or is it? These conditions are tailor-made for a wet fly.

Tauranga taupo river
Tauranga Taupo river is high and dirty

There was a fallen tree in the water and at this point, the river split in two. I reasoned that there had to be trout lying in front of the stump either resting up or intercepting food coming downstream and continuing downstream either left or right. This water here was also a bit quieter than upstream making it slightly clearer than further upstream where there were rapids.

Generally, a river repeats itself. That is it starts as a rapid, riffle, glide and pool then rapid again.

When the river is dirty, I like to concentrate on the slower water, i.e., glides and pools. The opposite can be said for when the rivers are clear when I will focus on the rapids and riffles. Anyway, the plan was set but to help me even further I would have to choose the right fly.

I elected to put 2 flies on (the trout have to see one of them surely) and the fly would have to be dark. I chose a big black woolly bugger trailed by a big black and olive woolly bugger.

It wasn’t long before I had a hit and then fish, several fish, beautiful fresh run big hard fighting trout. There was no doubt that a big run of superb fish had entered the river and I was enjoying some classic action and had the whole river to myself.

I went up the river again yesterday and it was even more swollen than Tuesday. I elected to walk up the river another couple of kilometres to find water similar to what I had the previous day.

This did the trick and I had similar action and all fish caught were in mint condition. It was a bit wetter today but at 14 degrees, not unpleasant. Once again I had the river to myself.

The Tauranga Taupo River has always been one of my favourite rivers because it was where I caught my first trout in a river, on a fly rod as a boy. Very underrated and it is my belief that in the peak of the winter runs there is no river better.

As  I am writing it is absolutely hosing down and all rivers are going to have some more fish in the coming days. When everything settles down you can be assured of some excellent fishing everywhere. There is no doubt, that the winter runs have begun.

If you need anything at all to tackle these monsters, come to the I Love Fly Fishing shop in Turangi and I will see you right. We have a wide range of quality tackle and advice is freely given.

Until next time,

Tight lines,


Brian Willson

NZPFGA member. Tongariro River Flow Tauranga-Taupo River Flow

Rainbow trout caught with wet fly
Rainbow trout caught with wet fly
Fresh run rainbow trout
Fresh run rainbow trout
A lovely rainbow trout
A lovely rainbow trout


My name is Brian Willson and I have been a fly fisher for over 50 years. I am a professional fishing guide and current NZPFGA member of which I have served at executive level and have guided anglers of different skill sets, ages and gender from all over the world. I have also written two books on fly fishing and am a keen artist. I am passionate about fly fishing and the therapeutic qualities it offers and enjoy sharing this experience with people on and off the water. Over the years I have made some amazing friendships that continue to this day. I have partnered up with one of these friendships, Barrie Barnes from I Love Fly Fishing, and I sell exclusively, quality, affordable fly fishing gear at my premises at 8 Wiremu Street, Turangi, the designated I Love Fly Fishing shop in Turangi which is open all hours— just ring 021667867 anytime. I take a serious interest in my clients and freely offer advice when asked and am happy to talk fishing anytime. Tight lines, Brian Willson

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