The season that was
Todd Lambert, President of the Longford Anglers Club, takes a look at the past trout season for both himself and his club members.How was the season for you?
With increasing pressure on our fisheries due to the drought, one could be forgiven for wanting to put this season behind us. We are praying for redemption in the form of record rainfall before next season comes around.
From a personal point of view, watching Arthurs Lake degenerate to its present state showed us all how fragile many our fisheries are. One wonders where this will all end if the rains continue to avoid our major catchment areas.
Much has been said of the plight of "the man on the land" and no one is arguing that they need help in anyway we can give it, "including" irrigation schemes, but surely common sense has to prevail and minimum legislated draw down levels need to be put on those catchments that these schemes will affect. A balance is needed.
Obviously there is much more going on behind the scenes that we don't know about and people more learned than myself will hopefully be working on solutions. It is worrying that after numerous calls from countless people Minister, Mr. David Llewellyn (at the time of writing) continues to ignore people, our club (Longford) and representative bodies such Anglers Alliance who dare ask the question.
Anyway, that's enough politics - on with the review.
Given the above mentioned situation, my family found themselves fishing local waters more consistently this year.
Four Springs got a lot of attention early and late season, but we kept clear from late December through to the early March due to the excessive weed growth.
The fishing for us was consistent if not outstanding and the fish were generally of good size. Our club's opening day competition was a highlight, with nearly fifty trout caught by the members on the day.
Powerbait accounted for many rainbow trout caught by our shore based members. The interesting point to note is that this is the main catch on this bait, as very few browns seem to take it.
The best rig seems to be a standard running sinker and a small hook with a monofilament line strength of 6 pounds or under. This light line and decreased hook weight allows the Powerbait to float mid water hence making it visible to the unsuspecting quarry.
Soft plastics in the Gulp pumpkinseed colour both trolled and fished by the cast and retrieve method also accounted for many fish. John Dekkers Purple people eater (Woolly Bugger fly pattern) does well as does an orange bead headed nymph fished static under a dry fly or indicator. Tom Edson and son Selwyn caught many on their fire tiger coloured lures as well.
We witnessed some great fishing here, especially after news broke about the various stockings of Atlantic salmon and rainbows. The 1000 Liawenee browns that were put in during the spawning season seem to disappear, and I only saw three of those caught.
The number of fish that get put into this water by the IFS is astounding, yet, for some reason, the catch rate doesn't seem to reflect that effort.
Small Atlantics stocked early in the season seemed to drop off in condition very quickly with quite a few slabby fish caught later on. However, the bigger fish seem to thrive and hold condition. I suspect these big fish quickly adapt and learn to feed on the ever present redfin perch. Although I have never found any perch in their stomach contents, I have caught numerous fish casting into the direction of a water disturbance caused by fleeing juvenile redfin.
Club member Jamie Morehouse swears Stuart Barden and himself saw an Atlantic Salmon swim past their boat last year that was every bit of thirty pounds and since Jamie has caught a lot of big fish in his day, I don't believe he would exaggerate. The last stocking of fish that big was a couple of years ago, so they have to be eating something!
The inaugural Tasfish.com Brushy competition was a great success in terms of participation numbers, but disappointing was the day's catch rate of only nine large fish weighed in. It was obvious that word had gotten out of a stocking and many fish seemed to have gone to ground or had been caught earlier leading up to this event.
It is hoped if we organise this event again for next season something may be able to be worked out with the IFS and Forestry to stop this information getting out and if it is to be stocked - perhaps closer to the event (we can only try!).
As our club's adopted water, we need to be vigilant and support the IFS in their efforts to reinvigorate this area as a major family fishery, we can do this by handing on any information that may assist them in its management, i.e. quality of fish, illegal behaviour such as vandalism, excessive bag limits etc. After all we are the people that fish it all the time and are the eyes and ears of the area. If the IFS don't know about problems, they can't find solutions!
Things that make you go hmmm - this seems to be the most appropriate start to this segment.
Ok, I've mentioned the negatives earlier, but what about the positives?
The season started well, and with the club van being placed onsite at Pumphouse Bay. Club members now had a place to stay. The van was well utilised over the season and it was a huge bonus for club members.
Very early in the season many members caught a lot of fish, although the condition of the fish subsided as the season went on. For most of the earlier months it seemed like the Arthurs of years past with reliable catches of trout falling to experienced trollers such as Stephen Johnson, whilst fly fishers like Tim Feely witnessed some great fly fishing.
Soft plastics gave excellent results virtually all year round including our Australia day long weekend fishing competition where over one hundred fish were caught by members.
Members consistently caught fish until the end but the decreased quality of the fish and the low water levels saw only the very keen consistently put in an appearance at seasons end.
From the very start of the season until the end, what a water this turned out to be. It was a problem at times negotiating the road that, unfortunately, deteriorated quite alarmingly as the season went on.
The introduction of a five trout bag limit proved to be well accepted by the angling fraternity. We realise the need to preserve fish in a water that, due to its excellent reputation, and the decline of other fisheries in the area, found itself under heavy angling pressure.
Many members regularly caught their bag limit and fish approaching five pounds weren't uncommon.
Soft plastics, wet flies and lures cast from the boat or even from the shoreline at the launching ramp all produced the goods for our members.
Renowned for being an early and late season water with a lapse in the middle, this wasn't the case this year.
The size and quality dropped off dramatically towards the end of the summer, so it will be interesting to see where it's at next season. Hopefully it can repeat this year's efforts and not throw up any unexpected and unwelcome surprises.
Not a lot has been written about this water this year as it is another fishery suffering from low water levels.
My family fished it a couple of times earlier in the year but the turbid water made it almost unfishable.
We did manage a couple of fish on both outings, although I don't know how to be honest! The fish were still in surprisingly good condition.
We didn't go back after December and decided to quit while we were ahead. This is a fantastic water for both soft plastic, fly and lure so it was disappointing that we had to cancel one of our planned outings to this water in favour of another at Arthurs Lake.
Once again we hope it comes back, given the right rainfall and correct water management. There seems to be no reason why it can't.
If anything good has come out of the drought, it is the raised awareness amongst the fishing public of the Great Lake as a premier fishery. This year it seemed more anglers than ever before started fishing it on a regular basis and found that it was worth the effort.
Ben Dodd and Jamie and Aiden Hume landed plenty, particularly early in the season. Many were caught in Swan Bay on Gary Glitter, Squidgy soft plastics.
Trout guide and club member Garry France experienced some excellent early morning fly fishing in and around Cramps Bay with his clients, as did my family but with soft plastics.
Our club competition only produced about 25 fish weighed in for the day, with Jamie Morehouse winning everything, thanks in large, to finding a number of fish amongst the tree lines heading out of Cramps Bay on the left hand side. To add to his pleasure, he polaroided every one of them in the gin clear water, making this an experience himself, Matt Byrne and Demi Lambert won't forget in a hurry.
Given the quality and size of many of the Great Lake fish, and the Hydro saying they want to raise its water level over the winter months, one would think this will be the major target for anglers again next season.
This was the big news story of the season as the Huntsman Lake was opened for the public to fish on opening day for the very first time.
It's probably fair to say that it wasn't embraced by our membership as much as one might have thought and there was only a few scattered reports coming in throughout the year.
Once again the Edsons did quite well, as did Rod Summers and his partner Louise Jackson, who caught on average over seven fish a trip.
As you would expect from a newly flooded area, the fish are as fat as you could imagine and reports received stated they were often gorged with worms.
The growth rates are expected to explode in the next couple of years. It will be interesting to see if the expected "over population" of juvenile trout due to the great spawning creeks nearby has an effect. Whether this will be a case of lots of fish and smaller sizes caught, or big trophy fish, is anyone's guess - the next couple of years will tell the tale.
I usually haunt this place, especially the top weir, where I fish in my little tinny. I fish this with a fly and find either a snail pattern or an orange bead headed nymph works best. For reasons unknown, perhaps a lack of time, I left this area alone this season and don't really know how well it fished.
Club member Garry Garwood did well near the bridge early in the season armed with the knowledge that a few of the fish stocked for the Trout Expo fish would still be swimming around.
I was lucky enough to catch a good rainbow early one morning. It was probably a stocky, but it was certainly fun chasing it up and down the river bank when you manage to hook up.
The Longford Club has a "kids dam" it is not a designated water as such, but it did fish amazingly well. This is for kids to enjoy catching a fish in an "easy" environment.
Thanks to Viv Spencer, Severup fisheries and the Kappeller/ Barwick families this water produced some excellent fishing and some great exponents of our sport, being the club's juniors, and later on in the season some of our ladies, showed us how is done.
This dam is now entrenched as a key to our continued success. Well done to all involved.
So that's it, the season according to Todd.
Many members fished other waters not mentioned here, but this summed up "my year'. Not outstanding, but thoroughly enjoyed.