It’s been an interesting season in Tasmania so far, following a very wet and cold winter. Consequently, everything has been running a few weeks behind, although there’s been some catchup with warmer weather in the past few weeks.
The lakes have been fishing well overall, with some truly great fishing in patches; and fish have still been found even in adverse conditions. The pick so far has again been Penstock Lagoon. It’s produced some big rainbows, as well as lots around the 40-45cm mark after last year’s stockings grew fast over winter. These fish are fin-perfect footballs which are putting up a great fight. The Penstock browns are averaging 2½ – 3½lb and have been rising in good numbers throughout the day. For dry fly fishers, emergers have been hard to beat at Penstock, with the trout responding to both static and moved flies if presented correctly in the wind lanes.
Nymphing techniques (see the latest FlyStream Annual or online issue 11) have again been deadly on the mayfly lakes. Woods Lake continues to produce big browns, with about half the fish caught being over 3 pounds. Anyone who knows Woods would be aware these are some of the hardest fighting fish for size in the state, so a 3lb trout here has a reasonable chance of beating the angler! The largest I’ve seen so far was a touch over 5lb.
Little Pine has started to produce although it isn’t ‘classic’ Little Pine just yet. Despite reasonable numbers of duns, the fish are only coming on to them for 15-20 minute blocks at different times throughout the day. However when the trout are on, they are very catchable and in good condition.
The other place to mention while discussing lakes is my favourite area: the Nineteen Lagoons. A few weeks ago I encountered the best tailing trout action I’ve ever seen, with endless opportunities. Some of these fish were in excess of 6lb and there were constantly a fish to cast to, with no waiting in between! The hardest part was choosing which trout to target, as at times there were a dozen within casting range. These tailers were difficult to fool, especially when in slightly deeper water with their heads buried in the weeds eating snails, nymphs, stick caddis and scud. The trout in shallower water were easier as they were usually moving a little faster. This meant you got more fish to look at the fly, and they also noticed dry flies more easily. The highlight was watching a big brown swimming across a shallow hump with the top third of its body out of the water. A breathtaking sight that I never tire of!
As water levels have dropped, tailing is becoming less common but polaroiding has taken its place. Importantly, mayfly have started to appear which is often a welcome turning point fishing these lakes. Meanwhile, the beetle falls in the last few weeks have been the heaviest I’ve seen. These big beetle falls do funny things to the fishing and the trout can tend to go off the feed for the following couple of days. There will be beetles everywhere on the water with only a sporadic rise. When you do catch a trout, you can feel that its stomach is full of beetles.
The theories for the post-feast lull range from the trout simply being full, to the eucalyptus oil making them feel sick, to the fish eating the sunken beetles only. No one theory has me convinced yet.
The rivers have been amazing this year. The Tyenna River has fished as well as I’ve seen it with trout rising to the dry fly all day long. At times, it’s been a case of choosing which of the five sipping fish ahead to target in order to not spook the others. What else can you say about this river? Heaps of trout averaging 1lb, probably the most beautiful fish in the state, happy to feed aggressively all day long and some monsters amongst them.
The Meander has also been impressive with good numbers of fish taking both nymphs and dries. The lower reaches have provided some excellent polaroiding with predominantly 2lb fish sipping away in calm conditions. The trout have been moving around the river so finding the best water has remained important, particularly in the upper reaches.
Looking forward, I expect the dun hatches to continue with Little Pine improving. The Nineteen Lagoons and further west should continue to produce amazing sightfishing and feature even more rising fish with the onset of the mayfly hatches. Hopefully some classic ‘sharking’ days start to occur on Great Lake as well.
The rivers don’t look like slowing down either, with amazing swarms of snowflake caddis almost worth turning up to watch, regardless of the fishing.
Unfortunately, I’m just back in Maroochydore, QLD so the next blog from me won’t be about rising trout. Enjoy the rest of the trout season down in Tassie – and catch a few for me please!