Presented from Issue 113, December 2014
The Meander River is another one of the many rivers in the north of Tasmania that until a few years ago was a free flowing natural river.
This beautiful waterway that starts its journey from the Central Plateau area of the Great Western Tiers and into the new Huntsman Dam above the small township of Meander.
With its flow now regulated it continues on down through Meander, from here it travels on down through Deloraine and on for another thirty five kilometers to Hadspen where it enters the South Esk River.
I am not a real believer in the damming of rivers, but I have to admit it has helped this river immensely, especially with the below average rainfalls Tasmania has experienced over the past few years. Now with a regular controlled flow of water from Huntsman Dam it has seen a great improvement to the rivers aquatic life and the system itself.
During the summer months with the good flow of water that it now has, I have seen a big improvement in water quality as well as a better catch rate of trout. Before the dam was built this river in the upper reaches slowed to a trickle and had quite a lot of algae growing in it, that rarely occurs these days. Trout stocks improved immensely within a couple of years of the regulated flow from the dam.
Huntsmans Dam is an artificial fishing water only, that means fly fishing, spin fishing and trolling are the only means allowable to catch fish in it. It is open all year round.
The Meander River and its tributaries above and below the dam are open to the usual means of bait, spin and fly fishing but access to the river is limited. The normal closed season applies.
The river above the dam fishes exceptionally well early in the season and also late season when there is reasonable flow. During the summer months the levels get too low and the trout move into the cooler waters of Huntsmans Dam. Small to medium size blade spinners and hard body lures have a very good catch rate throughout this whole river system.
The dam itself yields some very nice size brown trout, as the Inland Fisheries Service occasionally stock it with adult fish each season. It is now mainly left to natural recruitment. The majority of the fish caught in the dam are taken trolling from boats and there is also some excellent fly fishing to be had from around the shoreline as well. The new opening and closing times are 5.00 am to 9.00 pm, there are signs at the entrance to the dam so it would be advisable to have a read of them before entering the area.
Jackeys Creek which is below the dam and flows into the Meander River contains quite a few brown trout, but they are not large fish. Access to this creek is very hard and tough on the body due to the harsh terrain, it is more suitable to bait fishing, so it is better to stay with the main river.
The stretch of river from below the dam wall to near the township of Deloraine has some very good sections of water to fish, and the majority of it is wade-able. The trout fishing is normally very good throughout most of the trout season.
Redfin perch are quite common in the lower river system and are quite often taken when fishing for trout. The redfin that I have occasionally caught in the upper reaches have not been very big, larger fish have been caught in the lower reaches of the Meander where the river is much deeper and the flow is a little slower. Since the dam has been built and there is now a regulated flow of water I haven’t caught a redfin over the past couple of seasons in the upper reaches. Any redfin that are caught must not be returned to the river, and they must be disposed of in a humane way.
The fast water areas along this river produce some very good catches once the weather becomes much warmer and the water temperature increases. During Summer, be on the water by 5.00 am. I believe this is the best time of the day to start fishing for trout.
As the sun gets overhead and hits the water then it’s time to head back to the vehicle because the fish head for cover. There are tree lined sections on the river that are covered by the shade, so give these sections of river a go before the day gets too hot. These shaded areas will and often produce quite a few fish. There are several areas where the road runs quite close to the Meander and has thick vegetation along the river creating shaded areas suitable for fishing up to midday.
One other area to visit before fishing below Deloraine is at the lower end of Western Creek in the Montana area. It carries small to medium size brown trout that are quite a lot of fun to catch on light tackle. I fished a small section on the way home from the Meander one day and caught six fish with a surprise catch, a nice solid brown tipping the scales at 880 gms. Most fish in this creek are small and usually average 260gms. Water level fluctuates quite a lot due to farm irrigation, and during the drier Summer months it is best to stay well clear of it as the water level is just too low for fishing. Spinning, bait and fly fishing are all regular methods of taking trout in this creek. It does run through private property so one should contact the land owner to gain access.
Remember a trout license doesn’t give you the right to enter any private property at all, it is only a license to fish the freshwater streams, rivers and lakes. Now back to the Meander River, from Deloraine through the Shoulder of Mutton Plain to Hadspen.
Below the bridge on the Bass Highway near Deloraine the river is deeper and has a more gentle flow to it and is much more difficult to wade. The river flows mainly through private property so permission must be obtained before entering most areas. There is some excellent bait fishing in the lower sections early in the season when the river runs high and spills after heavy rains. Keep tuned to ABC radio as they keep updates on flood warnings after many hours of good rainfalls and this is the time to bait up with worms and fish the backwaters and ditches as they start to fill. Most times flooding occurs during the Spring and this is when the fishing in the lower section is at its best. Wet fly fishing is probably worth a try at this time as well, especially in the backwaters where you can often see trout tailing.
During the drier Summer months there are quite a few areas reachable near the bridges that cross the river at several different places. River road at Deloraine has reasonable access in quite a few places both sides of the Bass Highway. Porters Bridge, Egmont Bridge, Strath Bridge, Knights Bridge and the bridge on Westwood Road all have some sort of access to the river they cross. For me I prefer the upper reaches of this great river with its clear fast water sections, it is one of the top brown trout rivers in the North of the state.
The trout in this upper reach vary in size from 180gms to 700gms, and will all give you a run for your money on light tackle. There is always a chance of catching the odd large brown in the river too. My personal best brown trout was caught and released in the Meander River last season and it went 2.9 kilo’s. You may also pick up a few rainbow trout too if you fish the fast water in the upper reaches of the river. It is best to fish with light tackle to have a good success rate for catching trout in this river, and a bag limit of twelve fish per person applies. The legal length is 220mm, and an Inland Fishing License must be obtained and carried with you whilst you are on the river with a rod in your possession. So load up the car and get down to the Meander River, you won’t regret it, whether you spin, fly or bait fish this river you will enjoy the adventure.
**Footnote: The Meander River runs very clear most of the year but does become discoloured after heavy rainfall. Care must be taken when wading this river system, especially if you fish the lower sections of the river as there are some reasonably deep sections there. It is probably better not to fish the lower section alone if you intend to wade it, as safety is a priority.
There is Anglers Access along approx. 30 kms of river and access maps are available from most tackle stores or any of the Information Centres around Tasmania or they can be downloaded from www.ifs.tas.gov.au Please respect the land owners property when fishing Angler Access areas and do not litter.