A group of four men visiting from Gisborne got more than they bargained for when they landed a whopper brown trout on Lake Taupō last weekend.
The group was out on the lake with professional fishing guide Bill Grace of Tūrangi, when one of them caught the monster 7.26kg trout on a mallard smelt fly using a technique known as jigging.
Bill said the fish was caught in about 27m of water about 400m to 500m offshore from the Tokaanu tailrace, at the southern end of the lake in an area known locally as the Tokaanu Hole.
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He said the young man, on holiday in the area with three friends, was very happy with his catch, which was full of smelt and in great condition.
A local client, Chenara Cameron, had caught a very large rainbow of about 3.17kg in good condition in the same spot just a few days prior.
With winter trout-spawning runs in the rivers coming to an end, more fish were being caught in the lake and Bill had had three browns caught in the lake in the last week which was a good result.
"I've kept diaries for 40 years and you catch about 300 rainbows for about one brown trout on the lake...that's the biggest one I've had in my boat for a few years and probably the biggest brown I've ever had."
Bill has been guiding for around 30 years and says the average brown trout is usually 3.2kg to 3.6kg, and the average rainbow about 1.4kg to 1.8kg. The biggest rainbow trout Bill has ever caught was 5.4kg.
He credited the growth in larger fish in recent time to the Conservation Department's decision to raise the trout bag limit from three to six in 2017, saying the higher bag limit meant there were fewer fish competing for limited food, which meant they grew bigger.
Bill said the client, whose name he did not know, had planned to smoke the monster trout.
"He's probably eaten it already."
DoC fisheries team community ranger James Barnett said the team was noticing an increase in the potential for brown trout fishing in the Taupō district, particularly in the summer.
"Browns live longer and grow larger so it's not a surprise that this big fish was caught in the lake," he said.
"That's a very good fish, definitely something to be proud of."