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Fishing on the Wild Side

Fishing on the Wild Side

Mike Fry doesn’t only live on the Wild Side of Tasmania, but also goes fishing in probably the wildest boat ever to troll for trout—certainly in Tasmania. 
When your mate says ‘What are you doing tomorrow, want to come up the Gordon for the night?’ it would be pretty hard to say anything else except “you bet” and start checking out your tackle box and packing your overnight bag. But if your mate was Troy Grining and he wanted to give his new 52ft, high speed cruiser a run across Macquarie Harbour, test the new onboard dory with a chance of landing a nice Gordon River Brown you would have to feel privileged. I didn’t say anything about getting on my hands and knees and kissing his feet…just having a lend of ya’ but I did feel very appreciative.

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Huntsman Lake

This section on Huntsman is a bit of a joint venture between Mike Stevens, Rivers and Waters Commission, Inland Fisheries Service and myself, Shane Flude.

History
Huntsman Lake was formed following the construction of the Meander Dam. The lake as you see it, is formed in a valley known as the Hunstman, a location that was home to several enterprises including a large sawmill and dairy.

Meander Dam
Proposals to build a dam on the Meander River below Warners Creek go back to at least 1968, when the Rivers and Water Supply Commission recommended that the site be investigated further.
Work started on the Meander Damn in the 1980s when the site was cleared prior to the planned commencement of construction in 1989, which didn't occur due to a change in Government. As part of the Economic Infrastructure Fund under the 2001/2 State Budget, the Government provided $10 million for the implementation of the Water Development Plan, which included funds to progress the Meander Dam project to the construction-ready stage and $7 million capital contribution towards the construction costs.
In August 2001, then Premier, the late Jim Bacon, publicly released the Water Development Plan for Tasmania. This was the first time since the late 1980s that a Government had formally recognized the importance of our water resources. The Meander Dam was identified as a cornerstone of the Water Development Plan, which was at the time the State's largest irrigation scheme, with 24,000 megalitres (ML) of water available for irrigation
Between October 2001 and February 2002, the environmental, engineering, economic and agricultural feasibility of the Meander Dam proposal was assessed in independent, comprehensive studies by Hydro Tasmania Consulting. These feasibility stufies formed the basis of the Meander Dam Development Proposal and Environamental Management plan (DPEMP).

Dimensions
The Meander Dam is 170 metres from abutment to abutment and 50 metres from upstream toe to downstream toe.
The inundation are 364 ha in area.
Gross storage capacity: 43,000 ML.
Effective storage capacity: 41,000 ML.
Irrigation water: 24,000 ML per annum.
Outlet Pipe
The Outlet Pipe is 1350 mm in diameter. Normal operating discharge: 5,000 litres per second or 432 ML per day.
Upstream Face
The Upstream Face of the Meander Dam has 484 pre-cast concrete panels (2500 mm x 1800 mm x 100 mm), each weighing 2.2 tonnes. The downstream face has 3060 (5 m x 600 mm) concrete panels, each weighing 1 tonne.
Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC)
RCC has three key properties that make it uniquely suited for dams: economy, performance and high-speed construction.
It has the strength and durability of conventional concrete, but at a cost that rivals earth or rockfill construction. RCC concrete has the same ingredients as conventional concrete: cement, water and aggregate, but much drier. It can be place quickly and easily with large-volume earth-moving equipment.
Mini-Hydro Power Station
A Mini-hydro power station is located on the left bank of the downstream face next to the spillway. Water being released for irrigation and environmental flows are passed through the turbine to generate electricity. The 2.5MW station is operated as part of the Meander Valley Irrigation Scheme and it produces enough electricity to power a town of roughly 5000 homes. The electricity is fed into the Tasmanian Grid with the revenue generated from the electricity sales assisting with the running costs of the dam.

Recreational Plan, Rules and Activities

During the construction of the Meander Dam, a recreational planning firm was engaged to write a recreation plan for Hunstman Lake.

Allowed Activities
Picnicking - at the provided picnic areas
Sightseeing - from the dam lookout and the lake shore
Bushwalking - on marked tracks
Kayaking/canoeing - no access below the dam wall
Shore fishing - artificial lures only, no bait fishing
Boat fishing - artificial lures only, speed limited to 5 knots
Swimming - near the Old Dairy day use area
Mountain bike riding - access from Hunstman Rd to State Forest
Horse Riding - access from Hunstman Rd to State Forest but not permitted in vicinity of lake shore

Access Rules
The gates are locked at sunset each day
Gates open automatically for exit up to one hour after closing
Respect and enjoy the facilities provided
Keep to formed tracks
Do not litter
Shooting is prohibited
Camping is not allowed
Fires not allowed

Fishing Regulations

Hunstman Lake is a wild brown trout fishery reserved for the use of artificial lures and fly fishing only.
Angling at Huntsman Lake is permitted from 1 hour before sunrise to 1 hour after sunset.
Angling Season: From the first Saturday in August to the Sunday nearest the 30th April.
Species Minimum size: Brown trout 220mm. Bag limit: 12.
Code of Conduct
Be aware of and comply with fishing regulations. Respect the rights of other anglers and users. Carefully return undersized, protected or unwanted catch back to the water.
Report illegal activities to: Bushwatch 1300 333 000

Boating
Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
Lake levels can vary, beware of underwater hazards.
Maximum speed 5 knots.
Do you have a weather forecast? Ring 6498 7755 for latest information, press 5 for information on inland water.
Do you have plenty of fuel?
Do you have safety equipment required by law?
Safety Equipment
PFD Type 1 or 2; Anchor, rope, chain; Bailer or bilge pump; Fire extinguisher; Auxiliary propulsion; Make sure all on board know how to use the safety equipment. Do not mix Alcohol and Boating.
Special Warnings
If the lake level is low, beware the steep drop off at the end of the boat ramp.
All vessels prohibited from 200m radius of dam wall.

Huntsman Lake - the fishing
Water from Huntsman Lake flows through the Meander River and provides reliable environmental and irrigation on flows year round and importantly during the dry summer months.
The original fish from the Meander River along with the 1000 or so browns (Av. 1.2 kg) stocked from Liaweenee Canal should rapidly pile on weight as they forage and tail around the edges.
The main focus for anglers of lure, soft plastic and fly should be to concentrate on getting their lures and flies close to the bottom. Fish will be feeding on grubs, worms, leeches and beetles flushed out as the water level rises. As seen by the fish opposite there is plenty of feed and fish will take advantage of it.
Access is excellent and spinning with lures or soft plastics from the shore along Road Shore, North Shore, Paynes Landing and Meander Inlet should be especially productive. A black leech soft plastic will be deadly.
Trollers will probably do best following a set depth and keeping lures close to the bottom.
There is no restriction on fishing around or in any of the inflowing streams and these would certainly be worth taking a good look at.
The best areas for fly fishers looks like being Duck Bay around to Sales Corner. McNeill Bay looks especially good for the start of the season. A Black Woolly Bugger, black leech pattern or Yeti will be all that is needed. Some weight might be needed in the deeper areas, but little will be required on the shallow sloping western shores. Fish your fly slowly and close to or on the bottom.

Due to the huge spawning grounds offered by the inflowing Meander River the fish stocks will probably remain high but will probably fall in size once the new food supply is used up and then stabilise around the 500-650g mark. Only brown trout will be stocked in the lake and restrictions of artificial lures, 12 trout a day and 220mm in length apply.
There is currently a large amount of flooding debris in the lake and boat operators should take care in the first few months. Mid July the lake was at about half capacity, but there was plenty of water on the ramp for launching. A large carpark exists between the ramp and the dam, this will undoubtedly fill quickly on opening day.
Amenities at the new lake are excellent and will attract anglers and tourists alike. There are toilet facilities on the western side of the carpark and another toilet block and BBQs at the Old Dairy site on the western side of the lake. Fishing is permitted one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset and the main road to the dam and boat ramp will be closed overnight. If you get locked in it will cost you $30 to get out.
At less than an hour's drive from Launceston or Devonport through Deloraine and Meander, Huntsman Lake will be a very popular venue this season.
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