Tasmania – Early Season 2014 update

There is no doubt that this season has started in a better fashion that any other I have ever known. Opening weekend saw anglers fishing Penstock Lagoon using their boats as ice breakers all over the lake. In spite of this, many fish were caught. Most of these were transfers from Arthurs Lake and had been fin-clipped. For some reason, Sunday saw more ‘resident’ fish caught on the lake with a reduction in numbers but an increase in size.

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Arthurs fished poorly compared to previous years and although most local anglers believe that this is due to over twenty thousand fish being taken out over the winter spawning run, it is far too early to jump to these sorts of conclusions.

Little Pine was spilling for weeks and the water was cold. The only fish I had heard of being caught were taken on Di 7 sinking lines!

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I stayed closer to home around Launceston and had wonderful fishing on the lowland lakes. Trout were seen rising during the opening week of the season and many fell to dry flies. The wet fly fishing was exceptional. Rain and high water in the south and west of the state made river fishing difficult but again, the north had good levels and excellent nymph fishing. By the end of the first week, small mayflies were hatching and being eaten during the warmer parts of the day. Simply fishing a size 14 possum Parachute Emerger (the exact fly that is found in my Fulling Mill collection) to rising fish and even over likely water, was successful. Not surprisingly, nymphs were still the most productive flies. I have recently taken to using a stomach pump to see what fish have been feeding on without harming them. To my surprise, almost every river fish has been full of either mayfly nymphs or stonefly nymphs along with a few terrestrials!

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Great Lake and Huntsman had both fished well during winter (these waters were open all winter) and continued to do so over the first few weeks of the season with large bags of quality fish coming from the southern half of Great Lake.

Sea trout were a little slow to get going due to the rain and high river levels. One large fish (just under ten pounds) was caught in the north-east of the state on opening day on a whitebait pattern but this sort of fishing was short lived. More recently, some bait has returned as have a few fish. The Derwent River has not been quite as good as normal and this can also be attributed to the amount of fresh water coming down the system. Although I am yet to have fishless trip there, finding the bait is proving difficult. When it is located, the trout are already feasting on them.

Sea trout have been hard to come by so far, though persistence usually turns up a couple.

Sea trout have been hard to come by so far, though persistence usually turns up a couple.

North-west coast sea trout fishing is proving just as difficult for the same reason. With little rain forecast over the next few weeks, the whitebait should start running in large numbers very soon. Interestingly, I managed to land a rainbow trout while fishing for sea runners a few days ago. This is quite rare as they are seldom found in the salt water / tidal regions.

Tooms Lake and Lake Leake have both been very good as has Woods Lake. Pulling wet flies has proven to be the best tactic but polaroiding and using dry flies has been just as effective when the weather has allowed. A six pound rainbow has been my largest fish to date but many fish in the four to five pound bracket are caught on most days.

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As the fishing had been so productive, I thought it would be a good idea to head out to the lesser fished lakes of the north-east coast. Big and Little Waterhouse along with Blackmans Lagoon lie very close to the ocean east of the famous Barnbougle Dunes Golf Course. The fish we caught were nothing short of amazing. Strong, hard fighting trout that never seemed to give up were common enough.

The photo is grainy in the low light, but check out the early season condition of this rainbow.

The photo is grainy in the low light, but check out the early season condition of this rainbow.

Large mayfly hatches are only days away from occurring on the lowland lakes and if early fish numbers are any indication of what is to come, this season is shaping up like no other. The word must already be out as every guide I have spoken to so far has already taken more bookings for the coming season than at this stage in previous years.

Finally, a reminder to everyone that this season marks 150 years since the first brown trout were successfully brought to Tasmania from England. It is a celebrated season and one that we should all enjoy and revel in. Without Sir James Youl’s foresights, there would be no brown trout in Australia or New Zealand. Thank you Sir James!!