Lake Waipapa is favoured by those anglers seeking peace and solitude, enhanced by scenic surroundings of forests and towering bluffs.  As the most isolated of the Waikato hydro lakes, Waipapa is little used for water based recreation other than for fishing

Access to the lake is provided by a good boat ramp located at the northern end of the lake. The ramp has a reputation as being an unsafe place to leave a vehicle, but a good option is to leave the car and trailer in the carpark next to the Waipapa power station.

Trolling is very effective especially along the outer weed beds in the lower/middle reaches or along the cliffs in the upper reaches.  The rainbows are slightly smaller than those in Arapuni, but huge brown trout can still be expected.  Waipapa is not stocked with hatchery-reared trout as it holds high numbers of wild trout.

Shore based fishing is restricted to the northern lakeshore, the mouth of the Waipapa River and the tailrace of the Maraetai Dam.  All springs, rivers and streams entering Lake Waipapa are closed to fishing except for the Waikato River and Waipapa River.