A group of Rotorua men have been charged with possessing 17 trout allegedly poached from a closed spawning stream at Lake Rotoiti.
Eastern Fish & Game officers say the group was intercepted after a car was spotted parked by the roadside on May 15.
Fish & Game and police officers found the group including youths under 17, on private property near the spawning stream in possession of 17 "freshly killed trout in spawning condition".
Fish & Game Officer Anthony van Dorp said it was disturbing that Fish & Game was yet again dealing with alleged poachers - not long after two local men were jailed for poaching.
"Trout poaching . . . has the potential to severely impact on the trout fisheries Fish & Game manages," said Mr van Dorp.
Wild born rainbow trout that are often taken make up an important part of Lake Rotoiti's fishery, supplementing hatchery raised fish and providing genetic diversity, he said.
"As the most popular trout fishing lake in the Rotorua district, the success of the Lake Rotoiti fishery contributes significantly to tourism and the regional economy."
Mr van Dorp said the low survival rate of a female trout's eggs dropped further if spawning grounds were disturbed, and poachers walking through spawning streams was enough to damage or kill trout eggs and young trout fry "which are at early stages in their lives and very vulnerable".
The maximum penalty for trout poaching is two years imprisonment and/or a $100,000 fine.
Three men will appear in the Rotorua District Court on August 25 charged with unlawful possession of sports fish.