Presented from Issue 96
Late summer brings to the fore the best of fly fishing in Tasmania, the regularity of hatches and falls of terrestrial insects makes dry fly fishing at times spectacular. These days are highlights and can be predicted with some regularity, however along with the highs you also get the lows, those ‘dog days’ where the trout simply don’t want to play. It could be they are too well fed or more sensitive to changes in the weather, or in fact simply will not feed until the hatch they can predict better than us arrives.
How to predict where the fishing will be good is a key to success at this time of year particularly if you want the fish a particular style of fly fishing. When fish do start to feed make the most of the opportunities as in high summer with warm water these ‘hot bites’ may well only last a short time.
Decide where to fish on the day
One thing we are blessed with in the Tasmanian Highlands is options, from Great Lake you can fish numerous lakes all within a comfortable 30 minute drive. All of the lakes in the highlands offer different options and fish differently in a variety of weather conditions. Weather plays such an important role in where to fish, Tasmanian weather is so variable that it’s hard to judge on an hourly basis let alone 24 hours in advance.
Watch the weather and pick a water suitable to how you want to fish. Some waters fish best in bright weather, some fish best in overcast conditions and others offer a good variety of fly fishing which can be a good fall back on those 50/50 days. Read the weather forecast and predict where the fishing will be most reliable at the peak time of the day, if it’s an overcast morning but the forecast is for a bright day after lunch with a Northerly wind, head to a lake where the beetles will fall.
Look for the food
Mayfly hatch best on overcast days, beetles and terrestrials fall on warm bright days, but they will always be in different concentrations on different sections of water. For mayfly hatches search the shallower areas for early hatches, then look where the food will concentrate, pushed by wind towards the bottom of the wind, caught in pockets of weed which prevents them from drifting out on the wind. If you can find mayfly on flat water odds are you will find trout feeding vigorously on the surface as these flies will struggle to leave the water without the assistance of some breeze and will collect on mass. For beetles likewise search the calm shore for beetles dropping on the water early in the day, trout are wise to the early fall and will rise on the flat water and the edge of the ripple. As the fall / hatch progresses, fish will ascend to the surface in the deeper water, along the foam lines, cruising near the surface picking off the offerings as they move down the wind.
Poke around regularly, if fish aren’t on the chew in one bay, they may well be in the next. The nuances of wind and weather as well as where food congregates means that a short distance can mean a big difference in fish activity. Great Lake is a classic example when fish are ‘sharking’. There is always one or two foam lines across the hundreds on the lake that seem to hold more fish. I prefer to find these lanes and then rather than cut across the lake then move down the foam lane which I’ve found a fish in, for me this yields great results time and time again. The wind coming off the hills and around points creates a slightly different area where the food will congregate on different days, but will be consistent on a given day as long as the wind is likewise consistent.
Dawn and Dusk
What started out as a cool wet summer has suddenly become a hot, dry one. On smaller waters like the Nineteen Lagoons as water levels fall and the water temperature peaks dawn and dusk will still offer opportunities as fish will feed mopping up the fallen morsels when the comfort level is right, and that is dawn and dusk. Fish always feed at these times of day and as the days shorten as we draw into autumn, fishing dawn and dusk isn’t quite as taking as it was in December when you basically had to be out half the night or up in the wee hours to see the rays of light creeping over the Western lakes.
Much is known about Great Lake and the ‘shark’ fishing out in the middle of the lake. Fish congregate around the shore of Great Lake and can be found in good numbers, however they are patchy to say the least. If you are walking the shore of Great Lake, concentrate on the bays, or move over plenty of ground until you find fish. Once you find a fish concentrate along that area and you may well end up raising good numbers. Also if the wind is pushing hard in on the shore the dirty line of water that concentrates on the apparently barren banks is a hot zone as fish cut in and out of the dirty water seeking out food rolling against the shore. Great Lake is best for dry fly in bright warm weather, when terrestrials fall to the surface on numbers and fish seek to make the most of the food that’s on offer.
Bronte is a great all round lake, surrounded by timber but also fertile enough for abundant weed beds. Bronte is a water for all weather, when beetles and leaf hoppers can fall, and fish are regularly on the spinners and duns. Bronte is a great bet for those 50/50 days.
Augusta is a rocky piece of water at the start to the Nineteen Lagoons. Augusta has really become popular in recent years and it is now common to see a dozen boats working their way across the shallow lake. Augusta is again a versatile water where trout will come to dry fly in both overcast weather where a sparse dun hatch occurs, but also in bright weather. Wind is the challenge on Augusta Dam, particularly if you want to fish it from a boat. If the wind is blowing seek out sheltered shores and prospect around the rocks, gutters and holes along the shallow shores as fish hold this structure. A nice mix of rainbow and brown trout exist in all three of the afore mentioned waters.
What is considered to be one of the premier fly fishing waters and currently under consideration for electric motors only due partly to the constant movement of numerous big boats over the shallow lagoon. Penstock is best fished in overcast weather, however on bright days, good spinner falls around the shore still offer good polaroiding and rising fish along the calm protected shores.
Arthurs is one of the best all round wild brown trout fisheries in the World! Arthurs offers so much in the way of fishing with large numbers of trout susceptible to numerous fly techniques, it is a fishery which produces such good trout so consistently. Being a wild fishery though, Arthurs and any of the lakes can switch off, making you feel like you are fishing in a desert rather than a lake. Arthurs is primarily seen as a mayfly water, however again being surrounded by native timber, beetle and leaf hopper falls occur frequently. With so much shore line and so much productive water Arthurs is a top fishery for surface action, also even if water temperatures are up on other lakes, being a large body of water, Arthurs is still likely to fish well. Dry fly fishing in the highlands is now at it’s peak and soon enough the cold snaps will start to cut in. The Commonwealth Championships are about to be held in the highlands and on the Meander and South Esk Rivers, and hopefully the visiting anglers will experience some of the highlights that the wild fisheries in the highlands offer.