Presented from Issue 108, February 2014
One of Tasmania’s most experienced Western Lakes anglers, Craig Rist, explains what’s in his day pack and why.
What to pack for a day out West is something I consider very carefully through out the season. The time of year and the expected weather conditions for a particular day will dictate what I throw into my pack. How many kilometres I expect to walk into the heart of the Western Lakes, away from civilization, is another factor I consider, especially if it’s going to be a solo trip and you don’t have anyone to help you limp out with a broken or sprained ankle.
Presented from Issue 104, June 2013
Macca and I were kicking back in my tying room in early January this year tying a few flies, having a beer and talking about the seasons exploits. He was filling my head with stories of his Western Lakes adventures and big golden brown trout. Eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer, the images that were being painted in my head became unbearable.
It had been mid-December since I had been to the Julian Lakes area on a three day mission and I just had to get fishing again. Doing my best to sound polite I said “Macca please shut up with all the stories old pal its killing me, lets just get a trip organised and get out West to polaroid some of those trophy browns”. He didn’t take a whole lot of convincing that it was a good idea, so first things first we got the calendar out to settle on some dates that would work for both of us. Sounds easy, but I can assure you when both parties work and you factor in family, sport etc. it’s not always so.
Presented from Issue 100
For adventurous trout anglers springtime and early summer is the time to start thinking about heading out to the area officially known as the Central Plateau Conservation Area or simply to most of us as the Western Lakes.
This area boasts world class angling opportunities in rugged wilderness setting. For many fishermen their sole exposure to the western lakes region is the pocket of waters in the eastern edge of the CPCA known as the “19 Lagoons”. While these lakes and lagoons always provide reliable fishing opportunities, in this modern age it is hard to get a water or even a short section of shoreline to yourself particularly if you are restricted to weekend trips. For those of us seeking solitude and also adventure, venturing further out into the wilderness is a must.
Simon Tueon (Chewy) and I recently shared one such adventure in to this magnificent wilderness fishery. Here is our story….
Presented from Issue 99
The Western Lakes can be a tough place to catch a fish, especially if you’re limiting yourself to sight fishing only. There are many influencing factors that can contribute to seeing very few fish during the day. We see fish in the shallows because there is often some kind of food present that brings them in close to shore. So if there is no food, they really have no reason to leave the security and food rich environment of the deeper water. During low water levels and high water temperatures in late summer, trout will often shelter under rocks during the heat of the day and only venture out late in the evening and into the night to feed. These are the days when you can walk all day and only seen one or two fish.
Presented from Issue 97
When people refer to the Western Lakes they are talking about a vast area of the central plateau that contains hundreds if not thousands of lakes. This area is made up of the central plateau conservation area and the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. This area and its fishing is truly unique in the world. The crystal clear waters and the ability to sight fish predominantly brown trout, at close range, amongst a unique landscape, is something that inspires many people to go to great lengths to explore and fish this region. Interestingly, the Western Lakes is not a place where you would go to catch a lot of fish in Tasmania. This is a place where less is more, with the ability to catch a large number of fish per day being gladly replaced with the chance of only catching a few quality fish. This is a place where there is a lake over every hill and where you get that rare opportunity to count the spots on a wild brown trout as it slowly swims past your feet.
There’s a lot I could say about the attached photo! I could say it took us days of scrub bashing, boulder climbing, hard slog bushwalking to reach this remote shallow body of crystal clear water, located somewhere in Tasmania’s Western Lakes wilderness fishery. But really, it wasn’t too far to walk and the going wasn’t that tough. It was definitely worth the effort to get there and the rewards were so much sweeter.
I started bushwalking a few years before I started fishing in earnest so it is only natural that I later combined the two and began to explore Tasmania's Western Lakes. One of the first trips I did and one which I have done again recently was the Pine Valley and its associated lakes and tarns. Despite visiting this area several times, I still find it has everything to offer the bushwalking/fishing enthusiast and its somewhere I will probably visit until I'm too old to do so comfortably. It features a number of waters that mostly contain high numbers of moderate sized trout and several nearby trophy waters for the occasional monster. The area is easy to walk through, has tracks leading in from both ends to the valley and the headwaters rise in what would have to be one of Tasmania's most scenic areas, the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
The Western Lakes is the term given to the huge area of lakes and tarns in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. The area is roughly bordered by Great Lake in the east, Lake Rowallan in the West and Lake Mackenzie to the north. The lakes are typically very shallow and clear on the upper plateau from the Pine Valley north. Further south and west the waters are relatively deep with well defined rocky shorelines. The western lakes are truly a world class fishery unique to Tasmania.
Often I am asked where my favourite spot is. Really, it's where I happen to be on the day.
Having fished a number of places in the world I know we are so lucky in Tasmania to have fishing that is so diverse. From small mountain streams to lowland rivers, and thousands of highland lakes. The remote lakes in Tasmania, commonly known as the Western Lakes, certainly hold a place in my heart. I am not sure why, as there are certainly places more civilised and a darned sight easier to get to.
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