One of our states more under-utilized fisheries, Woods Lake is situated some thirteen kilometers southeast from the Arthurs Lake dam wall at the end of a rocky, bumpy bush track.
Woods Lake holds a self-supporting population of brown trout. Both rainbow and brook trout have been introduced into the lake in years gone by, but both species failed to establish.
Woods Lake is a naturally occurring lake that was originally enlarged in 1911 by the construction of a levee across the Lake River at "Devils Throat'. This survived for over fifty years until the construction of the Arthurs lake dam caused a loss of downstream river flow on the Lake River. In order to maintain adequate environmental flow on the Lake River, and to sustain agricultural irrigation demands, a seven-meter high rock fill dam was built to replace the original levee in 1962 and subsequently enlarge the size of the impoundment.
This is how the lake remains today, and a handy spin-off is the now well-established and productive trout fishery.
Difficulty of access to the lake is the most likely reason for Woods Lake's lack of popularity.
Access is obtained by following the gravel road that continues past the Arthurs Lake dam wall and onto what is known as "Woods Lake Road'.
The title "Road" is being used very loosely in this instance, because I would not describe it as a road, but rather as a bush track. Rocky and extremely hard going in sections, this track is akin to driving along a dry river bed, and can take quite some time to negotiate. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is highly recommended for this track, as standard two wheel drives would not be suitable.
Alternative access is via a track that extends from the Interlaken road to the southwestern shore. This track crosses private land and the gate is often locked so cannot always be relied on for access.
Don't let difficulty of access frighten you away, for if you are prepared to give your kidneys a little jarring the fishing rewards can be terrific!
Once you have arrived at Woods Lake (and given your internal organs a chance to work their ways back to their original locations!) you are greeted with a waterway that looks tailor made for all forms of fishing.
The "road" leads to the dam wall, but there are plenty of tracks branching from this should you choose to take one. Most sections of the foreshore are either rocky or covered with a mossy grass and you will find more informal campsites than you can poke a seven-foot spinning combo at!
An overnight trip to Woods Lake is recommended because, as previously mentioned it can take a while to negotiate the track in, and it can take even a little longer to get back out again owing to the steep climb on the return journey.
So it's a good idea to give yourself adequate time to explore the lake (or at least a section of it).
Be patient and rewards will come your way.
I say this because the catch rate for fish at Woods Lake is regarded as greater than the average, and though many of the fish you catch will be lighter than a kilo, there are some monsters lurking within the depths as well.
Fish in excess of three kilo are not as rare as you might expect them to be.
WHY's THE WATER SO GREEN?
The water in Woods Lake is of a "chalky green" discoloration. Finding out the exact cause of this has proven a little tricky, but the most compelling evidence suggests that algae is to blame. The water in Woods Lake is known to contain high levels of background nutrients and that in-turn supports above average algal populations. Indeed "algal blooms" have not been uncommon in the past, but recent decisions to maintain higher water levels within the catchment have seen these effectively stamped out.
BOATING ON WOODS LAKE
The best boat launching facilities are at the dam wall itself, and boating on Woods Lake is probably the most productive method for catching fish.
The lake has quite a large circumference though is not overly deep. Trolling lures is definitely effective; as a lot of water can be covered this way and fish appear to be just as common in the middle of the lake as they are on the shoreline. Drift spinning amongst the drowned trees along the northern shore is worth a shot, but along any area of the shoreline you will find structures such as submerged logs and weed beds to fish around.
For the fly fisherman, dunn hatches on Woods Lake are not uncommon, usually starting around November and continuing on until later in the season. The area known as "Patterson's Flats" at the western end of Woods Lake is a regarded as a very productive fly-fishing area. Here the Upper Lake River flows into the lake and good fish can be taken all year round. Elsewhere on the lake small weed beds become visible in the warmer months and these are good areas to fish around as well.
WHERE TO WADE
For those without a boat wading along the shoreline from the dam wall will most likely bag you a fish or two. The lake bottom is rocky but easily negotiated and the fly or lure fisherman will find fishing easy going. The banks of the lake do drop off into the water quite steeply in some sections so, as always, take care when wading.
BAIT FISHING POSSIBILITIES
Bait fishing is permitted at Woods Lake and early in the season trout will patrol the shoreline in search of food to feast upon.
If you are fishing baits on the bottom of the lake, look for a place with a steep drop off into deep water. There are many places like this to be found along the shoreline of the lake. These places will usually drop off to a mud-covered bottom and are less likely to snag your line than in other parts of the lake.
Shallower sections of the lake, such as around the dam wall, will usually be too rocky to fish a bait on the bottom so floating mudeyes and grubs is recommended for these more snag-prone areas.
BE PREPARED TO BE AMBUSHED!
My experience of fishing at Woods Lake leads me to believe that fishing around submerged structures is the most productive technique to use to enable you to catch a fish or two. The fish in this lake seem to like to hide out under cover such as submerged logs, then dart out and ambush their prey as it comes by.
If you are fishing with a lure you will find that when the fish strikes it will strike hard.
So stay awake!
Drifting off into a daydream then having your hand slip off the handle of your reel when a fish strikes is not a nice feeling and at Woods Lake you need to be on your game to strike hard as soon as the fish hits the lure. There will probably be no second chance if you miss the fish the first time around, so keeping your concentration is very important.
Fly fishermen will find that the fish that bites the fly will bite decisively, so be alert and prepared for some fighting fun!
When you do hook-up a fish at Woods Lake you will find that they are good fighters. Indeed the fish from this lake seem to be quite aggressive characters, possibly owing to their relative abundance.
Once landed it is rare to find a fish that is not in good condition and when you clean your fish you will discover the flesh to be a brilliant orange colour. I consider all fish I have eaten from Woods Lake to be terrific eating, possibly the best lake trout I've consumed.
SAVE THE GALAXIAS
Woods Lake is also home to two endemic fish species, the Saddled galaxias and the Arthurs paragalaxias, which are both listed as "endangered" under Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act. The Arthurs paragalaxias population has fallen to levels where the fish has not been found within the lake for many years. Both species are found only at Woods Lake and neighboring Arthurs Lake. Measures such as maintaining the higher water level in Woods Lake have been introduced to try to sustain and subsequently boost populations of these fish but it is not known how successful this has been.
Woods Lake is not as popular a fishery as it could be. The rough bush track that leads to it keeps many anglers away.
Regular visitors to the lake will probably say that that's a good thing, as you have to be keen to make the trip in. This subsequently keeps the lake a little more pristine and the catch rate of fish a little higher than it would be if it were more heavily fished.
But if you do you make the trip to Woods Lake you will glad you did, for it would be uncommon for you to return home without catching a fish or two.
Just remember to put a pillow on your seat before you set off!