With early entries flying in, the 12th annual Ray White Clubs New Zealand National Trout Fishing Tournament is set to be bigger and better than ever before.

Last year, for the first time in the tournament's history, non-members were eligible to take part and entry numbers have swelled as a result.

Rotorua Citizens Club hosts the three-day competition, with anglers travelling from around the country aiming to take home the top prizes.

Club president Colin Elstob said early bird entries, which closed on October 20, had leapt from 39 in 2016 to 60 for this year's tournament, being held from November 22-25.

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"The tournament is held on four lakes; Rotoiti, Okataina, Tarawera and Rotorua. Every night we have a prizegiving [at the citizens club].

"What I love about it, not being a fisherman myself, but from a club perspective, is the talk at prizegiving every night - the one that got away, the things like that. You'd struggle to find as much trout fishing knowledge in one room as you do here during our tournament."

He said all were welcome to enter, regardless of skill level.

"Last year a 14-year-old got third place overall and some people don't even weigh their fish in, they're here for the social aspect and the actual fishing out on the water, whether on a boat or fly fishing.

"The prize pool that we've got, and the feedback that I get from anglers at the tournament, is it's pretty much second to none."

New to the tournament this year would be a trophy for the heaviest rainbow trout, in memory of former Rotorua Citizens Club manager Richard Hyland.

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Rotorua Citizens Club president Colin Elstob (left) and tournament co-ordinator Alan Macfarlane are organising another Ray White Clubs New Zealand National Trout Fishing Tournament. Photo/Ben Fraser
Rotorua Citizens Club president Colin Elstob (left) and tournament co-ordinator Alan Macfarlane are organising another Ray White Clubs New Zealand National Trout Fishing Tournament. Photo/Ben Fraser

"He was a massive driving force for our fishing tournament over the years. He passed away two years ago and his widow Ann and her family donated a trophy. So it will be the first time it is given away at this tournament, it will be a nice moment.

"I think any tournament we run here, but more so fishing because it is our biggest tournament, is about legacy. It's about trying to make next year's tournament better and the work that [tournament co-ordinator] Alan Macfarlane and his team put in on behalf of our club ... we couldn't ask for more. It doesn't matter what happens with the weather or anything, we know we'll have a great tournament," he said.

Macfarlane said as well as the regular fishing prizes for things like heaviest and best condition fish, there would also be a smoked trout competition.

"We have first, second and third for that too. Everybody has their own recipe and they all say theirs is best. So they bring them along and we have a panel of judges. The great thing is once it's done everyone can come and try it out.

"Last year the tournament had 87 competitors and this year we're confident we'll have well over 100. There's a lot of interest being grown in this tournament and people are quite ecstatic about the way it's run and the quality of the prizes.

"When they come in and see what we've achieved [the feedback] has been really great - they say it's well run and we're pretty proud of what we do. One of the key things we've done was letting non-members attend which helps grow the tournament."

Elstob said the best form of feedback was "the people who come back year after year".

2017 Clubs New Zealand National Trout Fishing Tournament
November 22-25

Final night prizes:

1. Heaviest rainbow trout overall
2. 2nd heaviest rainbow trout overall
3. 3rd heaviest rainbow trout overall
4. Heaviest brown trout
5. Heaviest rainbow trout caught by a female angler
6. Best condition factor
7. Best smoked fish

• Each day there will be a prize for the heaviest rainbow trout caught in each of the four lakes (Rotorua, Rotoiti, Okataina and Tarawera).