Presented from Issue 100
It’s been five years since I last did an article on Lake Echo so time for an update on my still favourite water. Each year I manage several trips which due to the distance from home are usually one or two night excursions. The spring months from September through till November still rate as the best times however the month of April in ideal conditions can be brilliant. By ideal conditions I mean rough as hell, in fact during April the rougher the better. Most Tassie autumns can be quite mild and some seasons I haven’t even gone as it was just too calm.
Finding calm weather in spring in rare and the two recent trips which I will describe later were in less than inspiring weather. When I first wrote about Echo I was dubious that by revealing my secrets I would soon find other anglers fishing my chosen spots at the right time. I needed have worried in fact in the past five years I would say that fishing pressure at Echo has decreased despite a new boat ramp to Large Bay and even a recent upgrade to the road.
Two wheel drive vehicles can now easily travel right to the water’s edge at Toby’s point and the new ramp. In fishing terms our catch rates have probably increased slightly over the last few years but the size of the average fish has dropped to around 600m grams. A fish over two pound is now the exception. Their condition varies like most waters each season but his year I would describe it as good to excellent. The orange/red colour of the better fish is magnificent.
Despite the intensive rainbow stocking program for many years their catch rate now is practically zero. During the last four years we have caught 250 browns for just 6 rainbows. Redfin perch numbers in the Lake have continued to decline, we haven’t caught one in seven years. 10 years ago one perch caught for every 20 or so trout would be average.
Perhaps it is the decline in perch that has led to the slower fishing at the canal mouth, once a place I would have rated as the best spinning water in Tassie. All the bigger fish were caught there and many had a number of small perch inside them. My last few visits have proved fruitless.
The most obvious addition to the Lake Echo skyline is the construction of two very high wind monitoring towers on the north eastern corner of the lake. They were erected two years ago to measure wind speed and direction for the proposed Cattle Hill wind farm and can be clearly seen right across the lake. The wind farm has almost been granted full approval and construction on the 100 turbines is expected next year with power being supplied in 2014. The farm will have a generating capacity of 300mw which is over twice that of Woolnorth and ten times what Lake Echo produces in hydro power. I can’t say the resident Wedge Tail or Sea Eagle populations will appreciate these new structures much but I can certainly vouch for the fact that Echo is a notoriously windy place and obviously well suited to such a development.
The remainder of this article is a summary of two recent trips to Echo describing the methods used and places fished.
Trip 1, day 1
|Harley’s camp set up, everything including the kitchen sink!|
Arrived and quickly set up camp in our usual location just before Toby’s Point. Trolling a mixture of Rapala CD7s in the perch and rainbow patterns we did both top bays and then down the northern shore through the trees to the canal mouth. The final tally for several hours trolling was me 1, Frank 1 and Glenn 5 including his first ever trout. Harley arrived several hours behind us and trolling a floating size 7 Rapala he managed to get his bag. In between we spun the gaps in the trees in both top bays and I had the boys let me out so I could scout the flooded margins of Large bay. I saw 12 trout but they saw me and I didn’t catch a thing. Overall a slow first day.
I decided to have a concerted effort with the fly rod and wasted another half hour in Large Bay before being dropped off in Broken Bay. I found a good number of fish in a small pocket amongst the flooded kerosene bushes, claiming 3 and loosing 2. It was tight fishing and I literally lowered the fly on top of the last two fish to catch them. The boys picked me up and we wasted several more hours trolling for nil result. Back to Large Bay for a session on soft plastics in the middle of the bay. We claimed 7 nice fish with lots of other hits and strikes. Harley who had also trolled for hours empty handed headed home.
|When the fish safe looks like this, it’s time to head home.|
Abysmal weather conditions greeted us the last morning and dressed in everything we had we headed out for the last hoorah. Glenn who was new to this trout fishing thing later told me he thought we would all freeze but didn’t say anything at the time. Only 2 fish claimed on soft plastics before the weather forced us out. Best fish for the trip was the perfect almost three pound brownie Frank is seen posing with. 35 claimed in total, all browns and a couple of very small ones thrown back. All up a below average trip which I blame on the freezing weather.
Trip 2, day 1
My most recent trip was on the freezing grand final weekend just gone. All the usual starters pulled out, I think they had studied the weather forecast better than I had. I arrived and set up camp with no other anglers to be seen on the lake. Fishing by 11.15am and by 12 I had five in the boat from Large Bay, four by trolling CD5 Rainbow Rapalas and one by spinning with them. I then swapped to soft plastics and claimed one first cast, quickly followed by two more. As the weather improved the fish went off the bite and for the next half hour I had heaps of hits and strikes but no more hook ups. With the sun out I waded the entire length of the eastern side of Large Bay in what looked like perfect flooded conditions. Not a trout to be seen.
Back in the boat and around to Broken Bay for more of the same. One nice fish trolling in and two more lost. Plastics again claimed three in quick time followed another hour of constant hits and strikes but no firm hook ups. A phone call from Harley had me retreating to the ramp to pick him up for the last hour or so of trolling in what is normally the most productive time of the day. Not so this trip, two missed strikes was the final result. It was time for tea and big fire. I was however happy with claiming my bag for the day and all were in good to excellent condition.
Three inches of snow on the tent overnight was not a promising start to the day and the weather only went downhill from there. For the next three hours I battled howling south westerly winds and frequent snow storms in probably the worst weather I have experienced on the lake. Due to the extreme winds fishing was only possible in close to the western shore. By midday despite four layers of thermals and gortex clothing and no fish bites I pulled the plug and headed home before being snowed in. Wise decision as it snowed for the remainder of the day and well into the night. I awoke next morning to a perfect snow covered western tiers.
Despite the poor fishing and woeful weather conditions driving me out the last day I will return. If Echo continues to rise this season it should reach the minus 2 metre mark which results in some great flooded shorelines. All the bays namely Teal, Broken and Large are well worth a look. Hopefully if things warm up a bit the fish will move in. You can walk to Large Bay but a boat is really the only option when fishing Echo and opens up all the water.
Essential fishing gear includes a good supply of Rapala CDs in size 5 and 7 in the Rainbow, Brook and Perch patterns. For soft plastics the Berkley T tail in olive pearl colour seems to out fish the black and gold colour on this lake. For fish in the shallows a black woolley worm or small black or brown possum fur nymph will do the trick. So no excuses then, get up to Echo, you won’t be overcrowded.
|Glenn’s first Echo fish|