Presented from Issue 96
Lake Augusta has been an underrated fishery. It has as much to offer as any other water in the Western Lakes region and as Todd Lambert found out recently, given the right conditions, your bag limit can be caught in a matter of minutes should everything fall into place.
I recently received a phone call from Mark Tapsell, telling me that I should get my backside up to Lake Augusta as the fishing there is as good as it gets at the moment and that he had just witnessed one of his best days fishing that he could remember. Seeing is believing though, and when he dropped into my house on his way home and displayed his Western Lakes bag limit which consisted of five well conditioned browns ranging in size from 2 to 3.5 pounds in weight, I thought I had better go and have a little look for myself.
To cut a long story short, Mark took me up a couple of days later and I too witnessed some of the greatest sight fishing I have experienced in a very long time. Once we found the fish, we bagged out in ten minutes, selectively choosing our targets according to size, as they swam towards us in seemingly endless numbers. This was as good as it gets!
How to get there
Road access to the Augusta dam site was created in the early 1950s by the Hydro Electric Commission and has been improved and upgraded periodically from that time on. The turn off is easy to find as it is situated on the opposite side of the road from the Inland Fisheries field station based at Liawenee, it is also the home of the IFS Open Days that are held there annually.
Taking in the Nineteen Lagoons region of the Western Lakes, Augusta is within reach to anyone owning a 2WD car but please be aware that the road is gravel based and can sometimes cut up a bit rough in places. The drive in from here takes approximately twenty minutes and is around 13 klms. Please note the speedlimit is 50 kph, and Tasmania Police are checking cars along here.
Fed by the James and Ouse rivers, when full, Augusta covers an expanse approaching 1,300 hectares.
This area reduces dramatically in size however, come the warmer months of summer as it is used primarily as a feeder catchment for Great Lake. When this happens the water actually splits into two smaller expanses known as Augusta Dam North and
Natural Lake Augusta South.
Boat ramps are on offer at both ends of the dam wall, with the northern side ramp receiving the largest amount of patronage from visiting anglers. As is to be expected, the deeper water is found along the Dam wall but please be aware this area holds a very healthy population of snakes that like nothing better than to bask in the sun given the opportunity.
As mentioned earlier, due to being in the Western Lakes area, Lake Augusta has a bag limit of five fish per person, per day with the 300/500 min size rule being applied. It is open to all methods of angling and is the only water in this heritage area that allows for bait fishing. It supports healthy populations of both rainbow and brown trout with the browns being the most prevalent and widespread of the two species here.
The warmest months of summer, being January and February are without doubt the optimum times to be on Augusta and a boat is definitely optional. There is some cracking fishing in the shallow bays, casting back towards the shore. To me, perfect polaroiding conditions are a west / north westerly breeze combined with a cloudless blue sky.
Another necessary ingredient is light Polaroid sunglasses, as these, (under the right conditions just mentioned) help show up the fish, making the trout look almost “golden” in colour as they slowly make their way towards you.
This area is literally alive with insect life at this time of the year and imitations of caddis, beetles and duns will more than likely be readily accepted when placed in front of a cruising fish. My fly that did the damage last visit was a size 10 seal’s fur Klinkhammer dry and its success drew no surprise when you saw the size of the mayfly duns emerging on that particular occasion
For the land based angler and as a starting point, anywhere along the dam wall area would be my suggestion and as a bonus, your chances of catching a “ largish” rainbow will also be increased due to the fact that they seem to prefer the deeper water here as opposed to the browns who love cruising the shallows more. Successful plastics are Berkley Ttails and “my personal favourites” being the Yep Tassie Tackle Flappers in Red Rascal or Black “n” gold.
As I have never fished this water using anything other than the above mentioned methods, it would be pure conjecture on my behalf to offer anymore advice in regards to my experience here, but to finish, I would like to offer a word of advice should you decide to bring your boat. There are many rocks just under the surface in Augusta, especially when the water level begins to drop as it does (quite substantially) at this time of the year, so please use extreme caution, especially when fishing it for the first time.
As for myself, from now until at least the end of February, I will keep an eye out for those perfect “Blue Sky Days”, dust off the waders and pray for a bit of spare time in order to head back up to Lake Augusta given the first opportunity!