Winter trout optionsAndrew Richardson.
There was a time, not so long ago, that once the calendar ticked around to June trout fishing in Tasmania was shut down for several months.
The brown trout fishing season has traditionally finished at the end of April, and for most this has spelt the end of trout fishing until it's recommencement in August.
Several locations around the state have been designated rainbow trout waters for quite some while. The rainbow season opens a month later than the brown trout season, and thus traditionally closes at the end of May.
This being the case, anglers were previously forced to put their rods and reels into hibernation at this time, and were left awaiting an August dawn and a new trout season.
Now while many of us will still be eagerly awaiting the start of this new season and all the great fishing opportunities that come with it, anyone who is suffering from trout fishing withdrawal symptoms these days need not despair!
In 2006 there are now trout-fishing waterways that are open all year "round.
They number seven, and they are all listed below in detail.
1 - Craigbourne Dam
One of the best winter trout fishing opportunities is to be found at Craigbourne dam. Situated just three quarters of an hour from Hobart, via Richmond in the Coal River Valley, Craigbourne is easily accessed and affords ample opportunity to catch fish over the winter months. Of course it is also an excellent fishey for the rest of the year too.
The fishery has been regularly stocked with large Atlantic salmon over the past few years, plus brook, rainbow trout and brown trout as well. You can choose to fish lures, bait or flies in the waterway and all methods are easily accessed from the dam's rolling grass banks. The dam is a lowland impoundment and thus likely to be conducive to kinder weather than many other locations.
Many anglers are happy just to sit on the bank and dangle a bait and there is probably no easier place to do this in Tasmania.
2 - Great Lake
The majority of Tasmania's magnificent Great Lake is now open for all-year-round fishing. The lakes main spawning ground, "Canal bay" at Liawenee, remains closed to angling over winter, while the rest of the lake remains open. Water levels at Great Lake have been very low for the past few season, but this does not seem to have affected the fishing too dramatically. Shore based fishing locations are ample, with all bays providing opportunity for good bags of fish. Boating on Great Lake is productive over winter, but weather conditions do play a large part. Being a highland lake, weather conditions can be unpredictable during this time, so it is essential when boating on any lake during winter to pay close attention to weather forecasts, and also to local climatic conditions in the region you choose to fish. A crisp sunny day can turn sour very quickly in our highlands, so be prepared and be cautious.
3 - Lake Pedder
Put simply, Lake Pedder is overstocked with trout. However, this did not used to be the case. In the nineteen-seventies the lake was renowned for it's massive trout and many lucky anglers were able to take home trophy trout exceeding five-kilos. These days the fishing at Lake Pedder is somewhat different. The lake is literally teaming with feisty and well-conditioned brown trout, though few exceed the one-kilo mark To counter this over-abundance the lake is now open all year, and bag limits are set at 20 fish per angler per day. Shore based fishing can be a little awkward and is generally confined the areas around the boat launching facilities. Other clearings along the shoreline can be found though finding formed tracks to these is not always easy. Boating is the most accessible and productive way to catch fish at Lake Pedder, and all methods will practically guarantee success. The lake is in our states rugged south-west and thus is a reasonably long drive to get to, but is well worth the trip as the catch-rate of fish is excellent.
4 - Lake Gordon
Adjoining Lake Pedder is Lake Gordon. If access for shore-based angling is difficult at Lake Pedder, then it is almost impossible at Lake Gordon. Those with a boat, however, will find fishing similar to that at Lake Pedder. Smallish brown trout abound and bag limits are again set at twenty fish per day. The lake is large and drowned trees are a feature, so again care should be taken while boating as submerged logs can be a hazard.
5 - Lake King William
Lake King William is situated south of Lake St.Clair in Tasmania's highlands. The most convenient access to the waters of Lake King William is at Butlers gorge at the southern end of the lake. Here boat-launching facilities and shore-based angling opportunities can be found. The northern end of the lake can also be accessed, via a four-wheel-drive track at Derwent Bridge. A two-wheel-drive track extends from the Lyell highway to Guelph Basin some ten kilometers further west from this track. Both brown and rainbow trout are present within the lake and numbers are again numerous. All methods of fishing are permitted at Lake King William and bag limits are once again set at twenty fish per angler per day.
6 - Lake Barrington
With the recent extensive stocking of large Atlantic salmon into this lake, the past several seasons has seen Lake Barrington receive a massive upsurge in popularity as a fishing destination. Once regarded as a world-class rowing lake that also held some trout, these days Lake Barrington can almost be regarded as a fishing destination of similar standard to its rowing reputation. The lake is situated in our states northwest along the road to Cradle Mountain, and is picturesque and sheltered - a great place for fishing during winter. Boating is again the most productive way to catch fish. Shore-based fishing is limited along this long and skinny impoundment, with "Kentish Park" being probably the best place to try. Here you will also find barbecue and toilet facilities, making for a convenient place to take the family for a winter fishing excursion. If the water levels are high and the lake is spilling, then "Devils-gate dam" makes for a spectacular sight and a fantastic photographic opportunity.
7 - Lake Burbury
On Tasmania's west coast lies Lake Burbury and the lake is regarded as one of our states best for trout fishing. Wintertime in our west can be cold and wet, but Lake Burbury is worth the trip if you are serious about catching a trout over this time. The lake is easily accessed; with probably the best shore based angling to be found at "Bradshaw's Bridge" on the Lyell highway. The bridge crosses the lake at its central point and good shore-based opportunities extend either side of the bridge. Boating is also popular and productive on this large lake. There are plenty of small to medium sized rainbow and brown trout contained within the lakes midst and all methods of fishing are permitted and productive.
All highland lakes are most likely to be wet, windy, cold, and possibly even snowing at some point over winter. It is therefore essential that appropriate clothing and footwear be worn at all times.
I personally learned the hard way that fishing in the snow with inappropriate footwear is a really stupid thing to do. On this particular occasion I spent several hours tramping around in the snow with wet and freezing feet and to say I was a little uncomfortable is an understatement. It also annoyed my fishing companion no end when I was forced to call an end to our fishing trip many hours sooner than was originally planned.
A warm and waterproof jacket, a pair of waterproof pants, a pair of gloves and waterproof boots truly are a necessity. Neoprene waders can also be good insulation when fishing in winter though can be dangerous if worn while fishing from a boat.
If venturing to one of the above destinations doesn't appeal to you, then there are quite a few opportunities to catch trout from salt-water locations. These "sea-runners" make for excellent fishing and at sea level the weather is often much kinder to anglers. A good idea is to pick a location where trout are farmed in cages, such as Strahan on our west coast or the Huon River in our south. Here escapees from the trout cages can be caught on lures, salt-water flies or bait and the fish are regularly quite large. However any location where a fresh water river runs to the sea, such as the Prosser River at Orford, will often see trout venturing into the salty brine chasing whitebait for dinner. It is well worth spending some time trying to catch them! "Sea-runners" are also regarded as excellent eating.
So if you are keen to catch a trout over the months that are traditionally closed to trout fishing, the above locations will afford you such opportunity. Dress sensibly, be prepared to get a little cold and a little wet and rewards will come your way.