The surface is just about the most fun you can have as an angler. Whether chasing giant trevally in the coral sea, bream in the estuaries, or dry flying trout here in Tassie you can’t help but get excited watching something come up and slurp or smash your top-water offering. Although they have been around for many years, surface hardbodies for trout have never really hit a spotlight but with the new methods and gear being developed at the moment it’s only a matter of time before people begin to look more seriously at top-water options. It takes some time to perfect your technique but it is essentially easy to get started and can be a very effective tool in your trout fishing arsenal.Read more ...
Woke up to hear that it was going to be 21 degrees here in Sheffield today, then when I looked outside there was just a full on pea soup fog to be seen. I had decided yesterday that I would fish the Meander River as I thought with only seven browns needed to reach the 800 trout for the season then this river would be my best chance of doing it. Once there I had a one & a half kilometer walk through thick fog to where I was going to enter the river. It's just as well I know this area like the back of my hand as visibility was pretty low when I headed off through the paddocks. By the time I reached my entry point the fog was a little lighter and the river was like glass, there wasn't a breath of wind. I love fishing in these conditions as eerie as it is.
Headed off again this afternoon for another of those late spin sessions I've been having lately on the Mersey River. The conditions were perfect once again with very little breeze and clear skies. I started off with a rapala in a deeper run before moving onto the fast water stretches. It worked out reasonably well as I did manage to pick up two nice browns on it.
Only needing two more trout to reach my target of 700 before the end of the 2015/16 season I headed off to the Mersey River at 4.00pm to see if I could pick up the two required fish. I had three sections of river already picked out that I thought would give up the fish that I needed. I was certain that if one section didn't then one or both of the others would. There was a strong gusty Westerly wind blowing with plenty of cloud about as well. I started off with the black fury (black blade) as I wanted to reach the 700 on the Mepps black fury seeing as these spinners have caught around 95% of my catch this season. They've also done this over the past 50 plus years of my trout fishing as well.
It’s easy to forget what a great sports fishery we have on our doorsteps living here in Hobart. When I have a full day or a weekend to spare for a fishing trip nine times out of ten it will be somewhere other than my local system. This leaves me doing shorter trips from an hour to a half day on the Derwent. Some of those trips can be just awesome and it leaves me wondering how good it could get if I concentrated my efforts for a whole day or two.
By the time the month of April has arrived, the end of the brown trout season on our rivers is steadily coming to an end. Those magic days of trout rising to a hatch of insects are all but over. To the avid dry fly fisher, this is a reality that is hard to take at the end of every season. For me, it’s time to change tact, just like the trout in a river have to do to survive. As the amount of fly life in the river starts to taper off, more and more trout in the lower Mersey revert back to feeding on the native galaxia (baitfish), just as they do at the start of the season.
With light drizzle on the way this afternoon I thought I would give the Mersey River a quick session at Kimberley. I haven't fished here for quite some time as the fishing went right off. I'm hoping to pick up at least three trout today to bring up my 600th trout for the 2015/16 season. Once there I found the river to be running very low and crystal clear, being a dull over cast day it didn't really bother me all that much. In fact I thought it would probably be a good day to fish here. I headed down to a fast water run that always gives up a few rainbows and I'm hoping it will again today. I started off with a small copper black fury flicking it up and across the river and letting it drift with the flow as I slowly retrieved it. It took ten minutes of working this run before I had my first sign of a trout. It just sat some 3'' behind the spinner and followed it without any sign of aggression at all. It was off with the black fury and on with the F-3 Rapala rainbow pattern to see if it would entice the trout to take it. I spent another ten minutes in the run without a sign of that trout, so I moved on.
Humid conditions again today saw me heading off to the Meander River this afternoon in the hope of adding a few more trout to my season's tally. I thought I'd try a different area today, one that's fished reasonably well on other trips. Started off using the copper black fury without any success, then tried a Rapala, and after that a black bladed black fury. All I could manage over the first 600 meters of river was two follows and one light hit & miss. Things weren't looking all that good and I'm thinking it's not going to be a good day on the river.
After a three day break from trout fishing I thought a trip to the Meander River would be the place to get back into it. Conditions today were how & humid which makes for good fishing, but also is a drain on the body. I started off in a nice fifty meter fast water run and using a black bladed black fury I had caught & released eight browns from nine hook ups by the time I reached the end of it. The river is still higher than normal due to Hydro Tasmania running the power turbines at Huntsman Dam, this has really helped make the fishing much better than usual. Things went a little quiet over the next hundred meters or so as the trout were only following the spinner and weren't showing any signs of aggression.
Headed back for another spin session on Meander River this afternoon (3.15pm) in what was pretty warm conditions. It was still pretty humid and boy there was some heat in that sun. I was fishing the fast water on the Meander River and with the sun full on the water it was like I was standing in an oven. Not a breath of wind to be had either. I used the black bladed black fury today given the bright conditions and clear water. It wasn't too long before I had my first brown take the spinner and five casts later I had another two browns caught and released.
After having 23mms of rain yesterday I thought I'd check out a river that runs through a friends property around 15 kms from Sheffield to see if it had risen enough to have a spin session.. It had risen by a couple of inches and was just fish-able in my opinion.
The forecast this morning (Weds) was for the winds to be easing off so I had decided I would head off later in the afternoon to see if I can crack the 500th trout for the season. Well, by 2.30pm here in Sheffield the wind had dropped right off to a nice light breeze which I was happy with. I was soon on the road heading on over to the Meander River once again. Trying another area quite some distance away from where I have recently been fishing. I arrived at the river just on 3.30pm to be greeted with another howling gale. I just couldn't believe it and did seriously think about turning around and heading back home. Not being one for giving in easily I decided I'd give it a go even though the wind was blowing straight down the river. Catching the nine trout required to reach the target wasn't going to be easy at all.
Headed off again this afternoon for another spin session in a rocky fast water stretch of the Meander River that's fished very well on my previous trips here. When I arrived the weather wasn't all that bad. The wind was a little gusty but nothing to worry about as I could see it wasn't going to effect my casting all that much. The river was reasonably sheltered from the wind too which made it that much easier. The first fifty meters was a little quiet as I just had the one hit and miss. Then over the next eighty meters I caught three nice browns. I'm thinking to myself I'm going to have another good catch of trout in this long fast water run again today. Then all hell let loose, the wind suddenly picked up a blew a gale. It was howling and there were small branches, twigs, leaves and all shapes and sizes of bark flying everywhere. I knew then it was going to be very difficult fishing from now on. This is as tough as I have ever experienced when fishing a river in these conditions.
The forecast wasn't all that flash today with winds reaching 45-55 kph during the day and I had intended to have a day at home after hearing that report. It was 7.30 am and the wind here in Sheffield wasn't all that bad so I quickly got into my fishing clothes and headed of to the Meander River to have a session before the wind picked up. After a forty five minute drive I was in the river flicking the little black fury around by 9.00am. There was plenty of smoke from the bush fires being blown across the area too, it was really thick and this wasn't going to make the day any easier either. It seemed more like 8.00pm it was that dark here and it wasn't all that warm, in fact the air was quite cool.
After a week's lay off from lower back & hip problems I finally felt good enough to head off to the Meander River for spin session. Well, that was after my weekly (every Weds.) dose of around 40+ injections that help to keep me trout fishing the rivers. I had wanted to have an early morning stint but that didn't happen. I didn't hit the river until just on 3.00pm. When I arrived the sun was full on the river and the wind was howling from the north, not only that the river was running low and crystal clear. I wasn't too fussed about it because it was just great to be able to get back into a river again.
Now that the Mersey River has dropped to a safe wade-able depth I decided to have an afternoon session on it. I thought that with the rain we've had it may be just what was needed to bring it back to giving up a few nice fish. I headed on up to Weegena and after a 35 minute walk through the bush d a few paddocks I was soon in the river flicking the little black fury around. It only took five minutes if a fast water run before I had a nice medium (390 gm) size rainbow take the spinner. It wasn't long before I had this well conditioned fish in the net, quick photo and it was soon on it's way.. Things were looking good catching a fish so early into the session and a rainbow too, something I haven't caught in the Mersey since November last year.
I had intended having a 6.00am start on the river this morning but I didn't hit the river until 10.00am for some reason. Had a bit of trouble getting the body to loosen up today was half of the problem. With the sun high and full on the water I wasn't sure if the trout would be on the take in these conditions. Well they were on, with the very first cast I had a small brown take the copper black fury. Two casts later in the same run I had another small brown in hand. The sun on the water isn't going to be a problem at all by the looks of it. The next three stretches of river all gave up 6 fish ranging in size from 240gms up to 360gms. I had also hooked and lost four others in those runs too, so with eight caught from 12 hook ups I was still pretty satisfied with the fishing so far.
I had around two hours before the wife came home before I had to take her up to the daughters at Cradle Mountain, so I decided to get in a quick session on a small river 10 minutes from home.. Once there I started flicking the little black fury around in the tannin coloured river and had a hit & miss on the second cast. The next little stretch gave up three nice little river browns with the best one going around 290gms and beautifully conditioned too.
Rain & thunder storms were the forecast for today and I was unsure whether to go fishing today or not. At 5.20am I decided I'm going and hopefully get a couple of hours in before the weather sets in. I headed on over to the Meander River once again as it's been the river that's been fishing well for me so I'm sticking with it. I was in the river by 6.35am and picked up a small (270gm) brown on the very first cast. Can't beat that for a start to the session that's for sure. Today I was back to using the black bladed black fury as it did the job for me the last time I fished this area on the Meander.
This three kilometer run of river has a mix of fast and medium/fast water so I'm hoping it will fish as good as my last trip here when I caught & released 21 browns back on the 6th January.
With ideal conditions forecast for the Australia Day holiday I headed on over to give the fast water a go on the Meander River. This time of year it usually fishes pretty good so I'm hoping it will fire up today. I was in the river by 5.45am and started off with a black bladed black fury and had a nice little brown on within the first three casts. When I went to slip the net under it the fish made a quick head shake and was gone. The thing is it didn't toss the lure at all but the swivel that is attached to the anti-kink broke. This is the first time that I've had an anti-kink fail. It was on with another anti-kink set up and back into the spin fishing. I had put a new black fury on and it worked a treat as I had six hook ups in quick time but lost every one of them. I decided to change from the black blade to a gold black fury to see if that may make a difference. I have done this in the Meander before when the same thing has happened and it worked.
Still feeling pretty stiff and sore from yesterday's five hours in the Meander River I wasn't right to go fishing again until around 1.00pm today. Even then I was still feeling sore in the back and hips but popped down a couple of Panamax and headed of back to the Meander River at Montana. I thought I would try different stretch of river that I haven't fished for a couple of seasons. The main reason is because it's one of the toughest stretches of the Meander River to fish because the bottom is very rocky and quite often slippery too. Being a bright sunny day the good thing is that by the time I get there around 2.00pm it will have some shade along the western side of it.
With the cool change finally here I headed off to fish the Meander River this morning at 5.30am. The forecast was for gale force winds but it wasn't too bad when I left Sheffield and headed off for the forty minute drive. I was in the river just before 7.00am in what was ideal conditions with it being overcast and a light South Westerly breeze. The first section of river I had just the two hooks up from small browns, they just didn't stay on the Rapala lure. I'm hoping this is not going to continue as the last trip here back on the 4th January when I lost the first four browns before I finally landed one. Well it only took me just on thirty five minutes before I had my first brown on this time and I only lost one other brown before I caught and released this 460gm trout. It's always good to get that first fish into the net that's for sure.
From Issue 87
The anticipation surrounding the start of the fishing season seems to increase every year. We have had three months to decide where we will go on opening day, changed our minds ten times and finally decided that we will wait and see what the weather is doing. The highlands and the lure of big fish is ever present but this year it could be time for a change.
Often overlooked in the early part of the season, the rivers of Tasmania’s north and north east provide excellent fishing for fly, lure and bait anglers. The exact location of your chosen spot should be determined by your chosen technique and the height and colour of the water.
For the fly fisherman, the Macquarie River has not fished as well over recent years as it has in the more distant past, but it looks better for this season. This difficult fishing is definitely due to low flows and warm summer weather. The best of the mayfly hatches will not start until October and dry fly opportunities will be limited. However, there is a silver lining! The high rainfall of recent weeks has swollen the river and backwaters have appeared down its course. These provide excellent fishing opportunities for all fishing styles. Fish have already been seen tailing throughout the lowland sections.
A burst dam further up the system a couple of years back had a negative impact on the river and the best fishing was further down the water course. Good Winter rains over the last couple of years should invigorate it again though. Although the height of the water around Woolmers Estate is usually determined by the amount of water being released from Brumbys Creek, backwaters will still fill if enough rain falls around the source. Water quality in spring will not be as good as that coming from Great Lake but this will not deter the fish. Finding the best backwaters can often mean driving up and down a river looking for just the right spot. On the Macquarie that can mean from well above Ross to Longford.
Small wet flies worked in eddies on long leaders over newly flooded ground can be productive. For the spin fisherman, shallow running lures and soft plastics will have the same effect. Although fish numbers may not be as high as those in other rivers, the quality of the fish can often make up for the reduced opportunities. Most fishing will be ‘blind’ but when light levels are low, trout can be found swirling in shallow water up adjoining ditches and channels.
For those who prefer to use bait to chase their fish, an unweighted worm and light spinning gear is all you need at this time of year on all rivers – including the Macquarie. Expect the river to be running a little discoloured which will hide you from the fish but do likewise for them.
Running into the Macquarie is the Lake River. This river always runs with a ‘milky’ hue but expect it to be more muddy than milky if heavy rains persist. For those who have not fished the Lake River, it holds larger fish than you might at first think. Access is not always easy but if you are willing to walk from the obvious public access points, back eddies and side gutters are not hard to locate. The best techniques to use are similar to those outlined for the Macquarie.
Junctions of inflowing side creeks can provide a colour change and although not quite as productive for trout as they are for barramundi in the north, fishing these areas can be productive on an otherwise fishless day.
The same can be said for those areas where major rivers meet. Remember that trout do not have eye lids and when all else is equal, they will choose to stay in clear water where they can hunt and see danger with relative ease.
Brumbys Creek is another water which suffered badly from low levels during last season. It is regularly frequented on opening day by local anglers hoping to catch larger fish around the bottom weir. Trout often escape from the fish farm and present anglers with a better than average chance of a three pound plus fish.
Trying to predict what the water level will be is almost impossible and it can also change very quickly. Rising or high water levels will bring fish into the shallows and provide the best fishing conditions. Sight casting to fish foraging in gaps in the weed is a real possibility. This is especially so above the top and bottom weirs where the flow spreads out and structure provides a break from the current. As with all of the rivers, stay away from the main flow and concentrate on slower moving back waters and ditches. The base of the weirs is also a reliable fall back as the turbid water provides currents in which fish can hold.
If water levels are low and less than ideal, deeper undercut banks are worth prospecting. Since the ‘settling dam’ was built at the base of the Western Tiers, water quality has reduced alarmingly. Although you would be unlucky to see it, there is potential for a huge volume of dirty water to come thundering over the weirs. If this happens, go elsewhere!
Near by, the South Esk is one of my favourite destinations for early season fishing. There are many backwaters in very accessible spots that hold catchable fish. The water around Longford is under fished and has been flooding over paddocks throughout July. Fat fish will abound. The Mill Dam area is well worth prospecting if there is not too much water.
A clear summer flood is prime time fishing in the South Esk due to the numerous depressions that join the main river channel. When water rises into these areas along the entire lower course of the river, fish will move in to feed on drowned worms, spiders and grubs that were too slow to evacuate. Although it is difficult to polaroid these fish in the dirty waters of August and September, they are still there and very opportunistic. It is worth staying back from the edge of such areas and observing. Many fishermen feel as though the “dilution factor” is against them when there is such a large volume of water. This would be true if it wasn’t for the fact that fish will always gravitate towards a spot with the most food, plenty of cover and with no need to fight the current. Instantly, this rules out 99.9% of what is in front of you and often reduces the dilution factor to a better average than during summer.
For the fly fisherman, the headwaters may provide the pick of the sport. If fishable backwaters are hard to find, water levels are too high or in fact too low for flood water fishing then the upper reaches are where you should go. It is very common to find dry fly fishing and certainly sight casting in the region around Mathina at this time. Look for clean water and start fishing. Even those fishing with unweighted worms will have success with long casts upstream. Slowly real in the slack line as it comes towards you while holding the rod to the side. If the line stops, quickly point the rod at the worm, wait a second and strike. If you wait too long, the fish will have the worm too far down its throat and you run the risk of damaging or killing a fish that you had no intention of keeping. If this does occur, cut the line and tie on another hook. Do not go looking for it!
The Meander River has been touted as the premier back water fishery during early season rains. There are plenty of run off channels, creeks and even storm water drains that enter the river down it’s course. Since the Meander Dam went in, the days of huge floods around Deloraine are gone. I suspect that fishermen are the only ones who shed a tear. What the dam has done however is to maintain more consistent flows. The further from the dam we look, the more influence run off creeks will have on water quality and height. This tells us that unless we can find that wonderful slack water as the river spills into the paddocks, we should look a long way up river. Walking from the Westwood Bridge and searching in amongst the tussocks is reliable. Look for flat country surrounding the river bed. The further up river you venture, the rockier and steeper it becomes making it less attractive if you are wanting backwaters but they can be found in smaller numbers up to the dam itself.
Before Huntsman Lake was built, my brother used to fish that exact stretch of river on opening day, never tie on a wet fly and always catch his bag. The fish were not big but all ate dries. The river upstream of the dam still provides the same quality sport. If you are looking for a feed, this is not the spot for you. The fish are tiny and best left to those who are there for the sport, intending to catch and release.
North Esk and St Patricks Rivers
The North Esk and St Patricks are influenced by rain falling in a different region. If other rivers are flooded out, this area (along with the Forrester) could be far less affected unless it has fallen in the east. Even still, it provides very consistent early season fishing. With Forestry plantations in the head water regions of the North Esk and St Patricks, neither river clears as quickly as it used to after rain. As I write this, the water running under one of the bridges of the St Patricks near my home has remained high and dirty for weeks. Both rivers can be fished in a very similar manner. Again, backwaters behind willow trees and ditches will produce plenty of fish for the worm fisherman. These are a little harder to fish with the fly and those using this method should venture upstream looking for clear water. There is nowhere better than the headwaters which provide kilometres of polaroiding water. It is tight but a small nymph placed in the right spot will elicit an aggressive take. As the fish are generally very small in these rivers, sight casting in dirty water is not easy. The fish need to be in centimetres of water in order to make a disturbance and although it does happen, it is not consistent sport.
When the rivers are running just inside the banks (a ‘banker’) fish will sit right along the edge waiting for the river to spill over. The target area for landing your offerings is small but as there is less water these fish could possibly sitting in, your chances of success are very good. This is where celta fishermen really clean up! Before my fly fishing days, I learned about trout and their behavioural patterns fishing these exact rivers with a red and gold celta at this time of year. It is a great way to recognise good trout habitat through success and failure.
All fish at this time of year are likely to be in less than ideal condition after spawning. They are generally a little bit ‘slimy’, out of condition and their flesh is less than perfect. Unless you really, really want a fish to eat, their table quality can not be recommended and I would advocate catch and release. This will see them there for you and everyone else during the summer months.
In a Nut Shell
Basic Facts about fishing northern rivers in August and September:
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