Brumbys Creek in Spring
Brumbys Creek is situated approximately 40 minutes south of Launceston, just beyond the colloquially named "gateway to trout fishing', Cressy. Brumbys Creek is an extremely interesting and typically exciting water that offers all forms of fishing hatches and methods to the fly fisher. Essentially a tailrace fishery, the major features of Brumbys Creek is its three Weirs (Weirs 1,2 and 3) that were constructed to slow the flow of water derived from Poatina power station, which in turn receives its water from Great Lake on the Central Plateau.
The construction of these weirs in combination with the inundation of the original Brumbys Creek creek-bed have created a magnificent fishery that boasts a variety of relatively fast water, slow water, deep and shallow waters. The residents of Brumbys Creek, typically brown trout between one and three pounds, love these differing environs and return the favour by producing excellent tailing fishing throughout the year, polaroiding on the brighter days, mayfly action in Spring and Autumn, and of course, the amazing acrobatic feats of the dragonfly leapers. The water above Weir number one offers the finest fishing but it is at a price - these fish can be very hard (just ask my therapist). The water between Weir two and Weir one is interesting and produces good fly fishing, whilst below Weir two, down to Weir three is the most heavily fished water owing to its easy accessibility. The pondage directly above Weir three can offer good hatches, whilst below Weir three offers the anglers their best chances of landing a "wall-hanger" - particularly around and below the fish farm.
The water above Weir one is typically accessed by one of two ways. The first and easiest access is via Fisheries Lane off of the main Cressy road. A small dirt road, Fisheries lane offers two wheel drive access ninety percent of the time (as long as the road is not flooded over), and four-wheel drive access all season. The first water you will meet when accessing via Fisheries Lane is the apply nicknamed "Duck Ponds'. Fishing to mayfly spinner feeders in this water can be sensational as the many rushes offer shelter from the predominant North Westerly wind. This is also a good place to park and begin walking the banks if the water levels are reasonable high (these are controlled by the Hydro, levels can be ascertained by looking at the high water marks along the bank). In amongst the tussocks during Summer, territorial dragonfly feeders can be located and targeted by the patient (and cool tempered) fisher.
If you continue along the dirt road you will momentarily leave the water, to rejoin it about five hundred metres further down the road. This area has in the past been known as "The Pines', however the trees that gave this bank its name have been cut down owing to safety concerns. A car park, scrubby picnic area and a small gravel boat ramp is located at The Pines. Launching a boat can be difficult when Hydro regulated water flows are "low" or "zero', and only small electric or oar powered boats are recommended. Regulations permit fishing from a stationary boat only (when boat fishing). From The Pines it is possible to walk upstream around in an anticlockwise horseshoe shape, eventually ending up at the Duck Ponds. Alternatively, it is possible to fish downstream towards the Weir. The untouchables shore is a popular area for all forms of sight fishing (tailing and surface feeding fish), or fishing amongst the pockets, channels and runs around to the road at the Duck Ponds can be exciting
The alternative access to Weir one is on foot along the North Western side of Brumbies Creek, from Lees Bridge on the Cressy road. This is the first bridge you pass over after leaving Cressy when heading south. The walk is fairly easy and travels along the river up to the base of the second weir and continues beyond this along the pondage and moving water above Weir two, to the base of Weir one. There is one small creek to cross but otherwise it is a relatively easy thirty-minute walk. The area of water directly above Weir one is sometimes referred to as "The Big Water" and is a relatively large, slow moving area of open water peppered with occasional willow and rush outcrops (see map). Wading should be carried out with caution due to a soft bottom and the presence of some deep drop offs (presumably the old creek bed). This bank clear to the upstream boundaries of The Big Water offers some excellent tailing fish fishing, great sight fishing on the brighter days, and of course, those maddening dragonfly feeders. Along the banks is often a successful place to locate tailers, whilst against the beds of rushes is a good place to target dragonfly feeders. Blind fishing can be effective, but it can also spook tailing fish that may be about. Fishing beyond The Big Water is often unwarranted, however upstream can be quite picturesque with the backdrop of the Great Western Tiers.Weir one is an extremely interesting body of water and offers seemingly secret backwaters, lagoons and runs for the adventurous to find within the willows.
The water above the second Weir is a relatively short piece of water, taking only fifteen minutes to walk, arriving at the base of Weir one. Despite this, the pondage directly above Weir two contains some nice fish that can be found crunching mayflies during the Spring. Moving upstream from the pondage the water begins to take a character more closely resembling a river, and in the small side pockets along this stretch can be a enjoyable place to target tailers. Access to the water around Weir two can again be made from two directions. As mentioned earlier, access to Weir two can be made on foot along the North Western bank from Lees Bridge. Access on the South Eastern bank can be made by vehicle at Lees Bridge, however upstream access is limited and the fishing is often overshadowed by the channel that parallels the far bank.
Weir three is quite a long stretch of water and receives the greatest attention due to the easy road access from Lees Bridge. There is a small amount of good fishing downstream of Weir two, however the best of this stretch is frequently found in the pondage directly above Weir three, or in the secluded willow-lined backwaters of the Northern bank. The pondage above Weir three offers good mayfly hatches and tailing fish and has good vehicle access to the waters edge. Areas to focus on include the edges of backwaters and runs that travel along the edges of weed beds. As mentioned, the secluded backwaters of the Northern bank can be quite good, however public access is limited and probably best made with a canoe or similar craft.
The water below Weir three represents typical river fishing with the exception of hydro manipulated flows, and the presence of a fish farm. At low to zero flow this water basically consist of series of small channels, exposing the muddy riverbank edges. Medium to high flow covers these edges, presenting a beautiful little river with a good head of fish, and the occasional thumper!
This water is often fished by anglers targeting large fish that are attracted to the area to spawn at the base of the Weir (typically large rainbows), or to feed nocturnally around the fish farm on redfin fry, copious amounts of snails and the occasional juvenile escapee. These massive fish can be seen rising freely to emerging nymphs on an appropriate Spring day, however, evening is habitually the best time to target these monsters. On a calm evening from September to early December these fish can be seen midging on calm evenings. Despite this midging activity, very large baitfish imitations (Matuka, Cat fly etc) cast to the rises and stripped back aggressively can result in tippet crunching strikes from brown trout averaging three pounds, all the way up to double figures. Rainbows are also often caught, a mixture being fish farm escapees, or more exciting, large post spawners thought to congregate around the base of Weir three for spawning, before dispersing during the season.
Tactics - Tailers (Best months Sept-Nov, Mar-Apr)
Consistently the most effective technique for catching tailers is to first find them, as opposed to blind fishing. The typical tailing location is a weed bed in around one foot of water. These areas typically hold a number of fish so keep an eye out. When the fish is found waving its tail (and you calm down) the key is to get the fly on the fishes nose. These fish are typically feeding with their head in the weed, sensing movement of small aquatic invertebrates such as snails and nymphs. As a result, if the fly isn't right on the fishes" nose, or in its path, it simply wont see it.
To aid in detection of the fly, a small twitch after the fly has sunk can be useful, however it is typically more effective to fish the fly static rather then retrieved. Takes can be hard to detect as the fish will often make a lot of commotion looking for the fly it has felt land or twitch. To aid in strike detection the leader can be greased (Vaseline or Gink) up to the last 6 or nine inches of the tippet. Alternatively a small woollen strike indicator can be used. With either method wait for movement of the leader (or indicator) as it begins to draw. A firm, confident strike should seal the transaction, however, be prepared to let the fish run as they really give you some curry!
Dry flies or wet flies can be used on tailers, however wet flies are the most popular. A good tailing trout fly should sink slow so that in rests on the weed, not in it, however, as you often only get one cast, you want the fly to sink first time. It is definitely a balance between weighting the fly lightly, dressing it sparsely, and crossing you fingers as all good fishers do.
One last trick for tailers is to use a long tapered leader of fifteen foot plus. This may sound daunting, but consider this. If you throw a bad cast, then the fly will land in a heap of leader as opposed to fly line that may spook the fish. If you cast too long or to one side, again it is only leader material near the fish as opposed to a more obtrusive fly line that will probably spook the fish.
Tactics - Mayfly feeders
Mayfly feeders (a generic term for fish feeding on both the aquatic and airborne life stages of mayflies) are thankfully a little bit less complicated then tailing trout or dragonfly feeders. A team of two flies is a common and effective approach, whether a wet and a dry, or two dries. Fish that are feeding on the aquatic stages of mayflies (nymphs or emergers) can often be fooled by a small black or brown nymph, for example a pheasant tail nymph, tied on a two foot tippet off the hook bend of a buoyant dry fly (using a Blood knot, or Penny knot). A typical dry fly candidate is the Humpy or Royal Wulff in a size twelve or fourteen.
If the fish are rising consistently and specifically, then two dry flies may be more effective. Again a Royal Wulff or Humpy makes a good buoyant 'sight" fly for the middle, whilst tied again of the hook bend, a smaller more imitative pattern such as a Macquarie Red Spinner will often do the trick. When fishing in this fashion it can be helpful to grease the thick section of your tapered leader to stop it sinking and dragging your flies under, whilst degreasing the last foot or two of your tippet to take the shine off, again crossing your fingers. This sounds complicated, but it is actually a simple process that quickly becomes habit.
Tactics - Dragonfly feeders
Well one tactic to avoid disappointment when fishing for dragonfly feeders is simply not to start. If your keen (sadistic) however, and well tempered, then there is a few tricks that can work. The first is to find a consistent leaper. This will usually be a territorial fish that occupies one of the many small pockets in the rushes, or a fish working around a weed bed. It is all too easy to waste time chasing fast moving fish.In terms of fly selection and fishing, a damsel fly nymph or similar fly, cast to the rises and retrieved with a figure of eight can be effective. The takes are more like train wrecks, so be prepared.
Dry flies can also obviously be used to fool the leaping nuggets. Incredibly detailed dragonfly imitations have been created and represent somewhere to start, but there are better flies to try. A greased up Royal Wulff skated in the face of a leaper can trigger attack (first from the fish, then from your heart), and larger palmered flies are also effective when fished in this manner. Warm windy Summer days are the best weather for these dry fly techniques as the wind can conceal your faults and give the flies an added 'skating" action. Maintaining the theme of continual movement, low riding muddler minnow variations have brought a few dragonfly feeders un-stuck when either cast and twitched back, or retrieved with a quick figure of eight or even a roly-poly retrieve.
Flies For The Upcoming Months (October-November)
Modified Black and Peacock (Hackett's)
Hook: 12 to 14 wet fly
Body: Peacock Sword feathers
Ribbing: Copper wire with 3-5 turns around the bend of the hook
Hackle: Black hen hackle, 1-2 turns
(Optional) Back: Peacock sword tied in under the body and brought from the back of the fly, over the top and tied in at the front (under the hackle).
(Optional) Legs: Golden pheasant tippets (natural or dyed red) tied in at the throat of the fly.
The iridescent shine of the peacock sword feathers can add an extra element to the traditional black and peacock spider. 3-5 turns of copper wire around the bend of the hook is important so that the fly breaks through the surface tension of the water without being over weighted. This is probably best described as a snail imitation, however is just a buggy looking, consistent catcher when cast to tailing / finning fish, or used as a dropper fly on a two fly arrangement.
(A traditional Nymbeet is tied with a clear body.)
Hook: 12-14 wet fly
Body: Oval Swannundaze in clear or as pictured, red. The original pattern used material from an old nylon pot scrubber.
Back: The back or wing case of the fly is black raffia with a coating of lacquer for resilience. This can be substituted with green raffia if the fish are feeding heavily on stick caddis.
Hackle: Black hen hackle, 1-2 turns. This can be substituted with a light coloured hackle and green back (wing case) if the fish are feeding heavily on stick caddis.Tail: A few strands of black hen hackle. This can be substituted with light coloured hen if the fish are feeding heavily on stick caddis.
Ribbing: Thin copper wire, 3-5 turns around the bend of the hook.The Nymbeet is effective as a sight fishing fly when cast to tailers or cruising fish. It is also effective for more traditional nymph fishing when cast to a rising/feeding fish and retrieved with a slow figure of eight retrieve.
Woolly Bugger MkII
Hook: 10-14 wet fly
Palmered (body) Hackle: Dark hen hackle
Body: Variegated chenille (olive)
Ribbing: Thin copper wire
Tail: Black marabou with a small, short orange/red tag tied in
This fly is found in most tackle stores. They often work well with the tail trimmed short as shown (as per a woolly worm) and cast to tailing fish. A good blind fishing fly when weighted and left with a long tail.