Augusta Dam at Dusk

Augusta Dam at Dusk

I haven’t fished Tasmania much, maybe half a dozen times and then always because I was there anyway, working.  So the chance to spend a few days with John – who has recently moved down from Canberra to Hobart – was too good to miss.  Now I should say that he’s had a cabin at Miena for many years so he’s almost a local. Well, maybe not.


Having arrived in Hobart I texted a local guide mate “where?”; and he replied “Penstock!!!” A man of few words but the message was clear. Three exclamations speaks volumes in any language.

Sunday night and the next four days was a typical fishathon of pretty much 10 hour + days.  We had three spectacular boat sessions on Penstock Lagoon, as well as fishing the Meander River near Deloraine, Little Pine Lagoon, Double Lagoon, Second Lagoon, and Augusta Dam.  We fished for tailers, tadpole feeders, Czech nymphed, stripped wets, duo’d, and caught a heap of fish rising on duns. No stone unturned was our motto and it paid off.PENSTOCK PERFECT

Penstock rainbow

But I particularly want to talk about Penstock because it’s a perfect example of what we’re missing in NSW.  Fifteen years ago NSW was prepared to try anything. We had regular reviews of trout fishing regulations with real change, and the Snowy Lakes Strategy was hot off the press with catch and possession limits halved, a guarantee of regular stockings, and a commitment to keep the reforms and the discussion going.

Two on two hooks

I love adaptive management where we respond to change. Changes in angler numbers and behaviour, changing lake and river conditions, changes in tactics and tackle, all of which are real and readily observable – change, change, change. I love innovative, imaginative and responsive management. And that’s what I found in Tasmania, and what is also clearly happening in Victoria – all whilst the greatest trout fisheries in Australia like Lakes Eucumbene and Jindabyne, and the Thredbo, Murrumbidgee, Mowambah and Eucumbene Rivers are stuck in a meat hunting boom bust cycle. The sooner we stop stuffing around, stock larger  fish, increase the size limit, decrease the bag limit, make our rivers catch and release, ban treble hooks and start to really value our trout fishery for the incredible economic resource it is with a sensible licence fee, the better. Anyway, just my view.

The new Penstock Jetty

So, back to Penstock. In the last year, the Tasmanian Inland Fisheries Service stocked 4,000 adult browns between 500 grams and 900 grams, in eleven separate stockings. They put in 50,000 rainbow fry, and 6,000 yearling rainbows. The lagoon is about 4 square kilometres and the 14 boats I saw launch there last Tuesday pretty much disappeared to the various parts of the lake and there was never any danger of overcrowding. The fishery is fly only and the size limit is 420 mm with a bag and possession limit of 3 – what sports fisherman could possibly need more? The fishery has a 5 knot speed limit and you can’t take your boat within 100 metres of a bank angler. It is a Premium Wild Trout Fishery and was described to me as a “put and grow” fishery – as opposed to a “put and take fishery” (long the approach in Victoria). Penstock has the highest lake fishery participation of any lake in Tasmania. All in just four square kilometres. And they’ve got a spiffy new jetty and a really great boat ramp. See what happens when you get it right?

The IFS stocking database is an incredible resource!

The IFS stocking database is an incredible resource!

We fished really hard and it was really worth the effort . We used possum emergers and brown nymphs, sometimes static sometimes retrieved. We had good success casting to rising fish especially the larger fish. The result? I caught as many fish on this trip as I’ve pretty much caught in Lake Eucumbene all year  – even with a few desultory* hot still fish-less hours.  The verdict? 10/10. Well done Tasmania and thanks John.

That’s all.

Tight tipets

Steve (Fly Fishing Charters on Snowy Lakes)

(*term banned from on-boat use)