Blue Peaks - Bob Cooper
Here Bob Cooper lets us in on what the devil he gets up to in the Blue Peaks region of the Central Plateau. Bob is well known in angling circles for his capacity to walk great distances whilst claiming to be fishing. In his own unique style, Bob gives us the run down on a magnificent part of Tasmania.
Grosey rang me the other day - Can you write something about your trips into the Blue Peaks area? You know, gear, clothing, direction, photographs, tracks etc. Sure I said, "no sweat', what a daft statement that is because when walking I usually see everything through a red mist and bulging eyeballs.
Planning for my trips borders on the ridiculous as I mentally thumb through my fishing locations. If the memories of earlier trips are sufficiently blurred and faded I'm likely to kid myself that another walk in would be just fantastic.
Ten minutes into the trip and I'm staring fixedly ahead trying not to think of the coming ordeal.
I rarely stay overnight when fishing, I prefer to go in and out in the same day, thus fairly long walks are the rule and combining this with fishing it can be a hit and miss affair.
So where do I start?
Well, first with gear; I carry a day pack full of fishing gear, food, cooking gear, waterproof jacket, gloves, beanie, waterproof matches, space blanket, torch, maps and compass, as well as a range of basic first aid equipment.
I wear ordinary bushwalking clothes and neoprene thigh waders with
Blundstone walking boots over them. I usually wear a fly vest and on the back I hang a racquet style landing net suspended on a retriever - yes the rucksack sits on top of the net and I can walk and fish all day without being aware of them. And while the waders can cause one to sweat somewhat, they are on me and not a dead weight in the rucsac, they also prevent me becoming too preoccupied with the presence of snakes.
If the walk is a relatively short one I carry my four-piece rod as it comes from my old van assembled and ready to fire. On a longer walk it is carried in a leather case strapped to the rucsac. I wear an Army giggle hat and polaroids, I almost forgot the toilet paper as I find that breaking my everyday routine usually necessitates a trip into the scrub later on. (Gee thanks, Bob, we really needed to know that! Ed.)
To get into Blue Peaks we first have to get to the Lake McKenzie car park situated just over the top of The Great Western Tiers above Mole Creek.
When parked, gear is donned and the walk begins; ideally at first light in the morning. It has to be timed right though so that the walker can see where he's going. The track in to the area is poorly marked compared to the popular ones found in national parks and similar regions.
The walk is undulating with no hilly surprises through open rocky country with a couple of boggy sections. It takes about one and a half-hours to get to the first Blue Peaks lake nestling under the Blue Peak itself.
From here the walking is easier, if that's possible, and fishy lakes abound.
Travelling south along the eastern side of Middle Lake we reach Little
Throne Lake overlooked by Little Throne Peak itself. From here to all points south are found hundreds of lakes, all very productive.
Like all lakes up top the water is gin clear and the fish very touchy. As most banks are wide open there is little cover and the angler is often silhouetted against the skyline, if the angler is not awake up to this, more bow waves than fish will be seen. I find that for the close in fish, side casts and long dulled leaders are the order of the day. I remember polaroiding and spooking about two dozen fish one still morning in Middle Lake and when a breeze ruffled the water I began to catch. I'm convinced that rod and line flash or movement, or both, were to blame.
Smallish flies around size 14 seem to be the optimum size; many anglers swearing by the ubiquitous Red Tag and other non-descript patterns. I prefer a small parachute dry with a prominent post wing, I feel that the parachute hackle offers a more efficient footprint on the surface as opposed to the regular hackle, and the wing means that I can see the fly clearly at a distance, never mind the fish seeing it, they don't need any help; I do.
What's the point in missing takes when we can both get a good look. In most lakes there is usually a drop off somewhere and if the fish are somewhat dour a weighted wet fly can be prospected successfully. I can just about tolerate bank fishing loch style with a couple of droppers, but I draw the line at pitching a large dry out and waiting for a fish to find it as it probably will eventually. And you can bet your boots that you're not paying attention when it does.
Early in the season most of the lakes are full and provide bays and inlets that attract tailing trout but they are not easily fooled. But if successful the day blossoms from the time of the catch; and fishing from then on seems to be easier, you know; just like the time when you pull off an impossible cast because it was executed automatically without pre-planning and its attendant nerves. Even if no more fish are caught the day improves because of the thrill enjoyed at its beginning.
If the day is relatively calm I find that I need to get onto high ground so that I can look down into the lake and polaroid as much water as possible. Even rocks at the water's edge might provide enough elevation, but the caution previously mentioned about the angler's visibility should be heeded, and it is vital to get off the high point before casting.
Unless fishing from a hot spot I generally keep on the move with all my gear on thus covering a fair slice of water I don't recommend this as the best form of fishing it just happens to suit me. My mate Dick who I often fish with crawls his way round the waters and most of the time informs me that; "he got one over the back". So it's different strokes for difference folks.
If I have plenty of time up my sleeve I can wander to Grassy Lake, which although not named on the map; is the lake due East of Little Throne. The fishing can be great, or I may carry on to the outflow creek and follow it down to The Fisher River; [I've seen very few fish here], cross the river and head up towards towards Lake Halkyard or Lake Fox. Halkyard holds some nice browns and Fox nice rainbows. Lake Fox is well worth a look and sometimes some nice fish rise along the edge of the drop off on the northern shore. Long casts are usually the order of the day.
After Lake Fox a wander up to Lakes Douglas, Chambers and Johnny is taken with but a cursory glance at them, they are reputed to hold fish and although I've never seen one they might hold a small number of sizeable trout. I suspect that there is a reasonable gutter connection up to Lake Fox.
It is a good leg stretch from Lake Johnny down to Lake Explorer. Following the obvious way as indicated on the map the Explorer creek can be followed downstream for a little way and then crossed to pick up the track heading down to Lake Mackenzie.
The Fisher River is again crossed on some stepping-stones near Lake
Mackenzie, depending on the rivers height and the edge of this lake is followed around to the dam and the waiting vehicle.
The distance walked is approximately 20 kms with side trips and should only be tackled by the angler comfortable in their capabilities to cover this distance whilst fishing, albeit in a limited way, as there is a risk of being stranded in the middle somewhere due to the preoccupation with our favourite quarry. To suddenly find that you have to cover several kilometres before dark or incoming weather can be daunting, to say the very least.
The angler can, if caught out half way round make his way down the western side of the Fisher River and although sometimes wet and "stumbly" it can be negotiated reasonably well.
If Lake Mackenzie is quite full, [unusual in summer], the shoreline walk might be impassable. A bush bash over the obvious part of the hill well back from the lake can be traversed back to get thee back to the dam. However one must take great care of cliffs along the lake's edge.
If there is still any fire left in the belly one can walk along the top of the dam wall checking the fish that are often to be seen cruising the dam edge. This type of fishing from the top of a dam wall is one of the best ways to illustrate just how well trout can see anglers and their antics against the skyline.
I just couldn't resist it. I have used the Dog Nobbler with fair success up top especially the brown ones and the olive green ones. The fish seem to come from a greater distance when the Nobbler drops in.
Don't forget to abide by all the regulations and safety precautions normally required on such bush trips. As mentioned earlier this track is poorly marked and it's advisable to go in well into the season as the track is then fairly well marked by bootprints etc. And go with someone who knows the way, or at least with a partner who can share the workload involved if the track disappears on you. It's much easier for two or more people to search for it.
Notwithstanding the above gratuitous advice I do occasionally venture into these areas alone; perhaps one day I will get my comeuppance!
The map used is the Tasmap "MERSEY" 1:100,000.
So there you have it "Grosey', a great day out hopefully enhanced with a fish or two, a walk that can be covered by fit people and one that might just induce your partner in life to join you!