Trout Fishing in Rotorura

After the Tongariro Alpine Crossing there was still a decent amount of daylight left in the day so we headed north to our next destination, Rotorura.  Rotorura is known for its diverse geothermal activity and geysers.  I was kind of excited to see some geothermal stuff there.  Along the way to Rotorura we saw some interesting geothermal steam coming out of the ground in someones farm!  Apparently some people in outlying towns just live and work around the geothermal activity in the ground.  Pretty neat!

Then it was off to the local Rotorura holiday park for some much needed rest after the all day hike.  The following day we weren’t sure what we wanted to do, whether we wanted to go check out some geothermal stuff or just sort of take a day off.  We were sort of in the mood to relax a bit and decided to try our luck at fishing in Lake Rotorura!  The City of Taupo and Rotorura are known for having large lakes full of large rainbow trout and we were still itching for a fishing opportunity while we were on vacation so we decided to relax and do that.

We were directed to the town hunting and fishing store to inquire about possible fishing charters and rod rentals.  We ran into a super friendly and informative man named Neal, who was also originally from the states, who totally hooked us up with some rods, a few lures, day licenses, and even some fishing tips and locations for us to have an awesome day of fishing.  We asked him about some basic fishing etiquette and techniques.  It had been well over a decade since I had done any fishing so I wanted to know at least a little bit of a refresher.  We were told most people fly fish in the lake to catch the trout, but he said we could still catch without having to fly fish.  Neal also told us about some locations on the lake where we would have the best luck.  Basically wherever a small river or stream flows into the lake is where the trout like to hang out as they like to sit near the mouths of the river and take in the fresher oxygen from the water.  He also made us a friendly deal that if we caught a fish we were welcome to call him up and he would invite us over and smoke the fish for us and we could have it for dinner!  Now I have to admit, having a stranger invite you over to their house after meeting them so briefly is a bit skeptical, but we figured, well if we catch one and want it smoked for free we’ll think about the offer…but first we gotta catch the damn thing!

So we got our gear and headed out with Neal giving us a heartfelt “Good luck!” and went to get a few more bare essentials before heading over to the lake.  after grabbing some beer and sandwiches for lunch we were ready!  The spot we went fishing at was really pretty.  There were already a handful of people fishing there, all fly fishing, and there were some kids and teens running around hanging out and fishing as well.  We got out stuff ready and began casting!  Steve gave me a few tips on casting after I kept tangling the rod up a couple times, then I got the hang of it.  We didn’t have to cast far, just about 20-30 feet out near the mouth of the river.

The beer in the water is our attempt at using nature as a ice box to keep the beer cold :)  The Lake was really shallow as well, we saw some older kids walk out into the lake with a mask and snorkel and they walked out just over knee deep for at least a hundred feet or more.  After about 30 minutes or so Steve got a bite!  It was exciting to catch one!  We honestly didn’t expect much, but it was cool that we actually did catch one!  He reeled it in and he had it hooked by the dorsal fin! (Shh don’t tell anyone)  We had another fisherman help us out by getting the hook out.  He then asked if we were going to keep it and we wanted to so he told us we should hit him in the head to knock him out so he doesn’t have to die slowly and suffer.  So Steve took a fishing net we borrowed from another fisherman and clonked the fish over the head…numerous times as this fish would just not die.  Then we took it to a rock since it was resilient.  I felt bad for the fish because he would not let go! Poor guy, what a way to go, get your fin stuck then get clocked all over the place and not dieing fast enough :(  He finally stopped moving and we rinsed him off and wrapped him in some newspaper for dinner.

Not a few minutes after Steve caught his fish, I caught one!  YEAH!  It was smaller than the one Steve caught, but that’s good because we kept the bigger one first.  I am proud to say I caught mine all by myself and caught it by the mouth and unhooked it myself and let him go!  It reminded me of being a kid again with my Dad and brother fishing in the lake at Fort Stevens.  So much fun.  After that we didn’t catch anything else, but ended up having a nice chat with another fisherman who was also from the states who was also the one who helped us while catching fish.  We didn’t get a picture of the one I caught, but here I am fishing.

So after a nice couple of hours fishing we decided to pack it in and head back.  We were still intrigued by Neal’s offer to smoke our fish.  We went with our gut instinct and decided to take him up on his offer.  We called him up and he told us where he lived, which wasn’t a minute or two outside of the main roads from Rotorura and we greeted him at his Kiwi home.  We met his wife who was also really nice and she was also a computer and gamer geek like us!  She was busy working at her computer while we were there, but we got to go out back and get the fish ready to be smoked with Neal.  He gutted and filleted it and he brought out lots of spices and things to put on the fish.  He told us in the store that he had been a chef for 35 years before so we trusted he knew what sort of flavors to add to the fish.  He ended up adding a little salt and pepper to both, then some brown sugar onto one and some lemon juice and chili sauce on the other from his lemon tree in the back.  I got to pick the lemon!  Then we went into his garage/shed/man cave and we chose some wood chips to use for the smoker.  We chose a bag of maple wood and thought it would taste good with the both flavors of the fish.  Then he mixed in a few bourbon wood chips into the mix and we let it smoke!

He then took us back to the shed and showed us his mini bourbon distillery.  He made his own bourbon and he was more than happy to have us taste some.  We mixed them with a little dry ginger ale and the drinks were really good. I don’t normally drink bourbon or whiskey, but his creations were incredibly smooth and you could pick out distinct differences in the flavors he made.  He had real bourbon chips he soaked his alcohol in to retain lots of interesting flavors.  In New Zealand is it legal to distill your own liquors.  We enjoyed tasting his creations and then went to go check on the fish.  It was nearly done.  His wife joined us after we brought out some bread and spreads for the fish and we all enjoyed some unbelievably delicious smoked trout.  It was so damn good I was drooling for more.

Throughout the evening, Neal’s cat, Mingles, joined in on the feast as well.  He gave some raw fish to Mingles and he ate with us.  Mingles was a cool cat, he was very friendly and sweet.  So we took some pictures to remember Mingles by :)

All in all, we had a great time chatting with Neal and enjoying his drinks and smoked trout that we caught all by ourselves!  It was really cool to meet a Kiwi in his home, even though he was originally from the states, you could tell he really enjoyed the Kiwi lifestyle and loved to share it with others as well.  So after the jokes and stories and fun ended, we headed back to our campsite and got another nights rest in Rotorura.

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2 Comments

  1. Glenis Says:

    Hi Alix, I finally (!) got around to reading this – I can’t believe it’s been so long since you were here. This is so cool, thanks. I see Mingles managed to be centre stage – as always. :)

    Take care
    Glenis

  2. Alix Says:

    Hi Glenis,

    We had such a wonderful time! If we are ever in New Zealand again we will be sure to try and say hi :)

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