Presented from Issue 95
October and November were cracking months on the Tasmanian mayfly streams. After record wets over the past two years, the effects of the five year drought have been washed away, and most rivers are back to their absolute best.
The highlight for spring was the red spinner hatches at the famed Stewarton property, on the middle Macquarie. For younger anglers, this year was the first big red spinner hatch they’d ever fished on this stretch made famous by David Scholes, while for older hands, the hatches were as good as those back in the 70’s. The upper Macquarie towards Ross still needs another year for the younger fish in the system to grow-on after numbers were depleted by drought, but the spinners are back and the eco-system is raring to go. Next year will be classic. Our best fly pattern was the Pheasant Tail Red Spinner tied on a size 10.
The South Esk also featured excellent spinner falls during calm weeks dominated by high pressure weather systems. Leapers were frustrating for many, though these fish became easier at around 3pm in the afternoon when the predictable sea breeze knocked spinners down and onto the water, creating an easier hatch to match. Pheasant Tail Black Spinners along with Ostrich Herl Nymphs, Black and Peacocks and small parachute spinners were all reliable patterns. Fish size is quite good this year, particularly in the Fingal Valley where prolonged early floods have resulted in excellent conditioned fish. Towards the end of November caenid mayfly were beginning to appear in numbers, providing excellent morning fishing.
The small streams of the north-east had a slower than normal start, with most flowing heavier and for a more prolonged length of time than normal. Despite this, a ripper of a warm week in November saw the water temperatures rise, and like a light switch turning on, the fishing took off and the dry fly reigned supreme. The upper North Esk, St Pats, South Esk and Ringarooma rivers all fished well during late November. Our small Scruffy dry flies, along with parachute spinners and Coachman all worked a treat, fished barbless.
The Top Weir at Brumbys Creek, made famous by the red spinner hatches and leaping dragonfly feeders, received no hydro-flow from the Poatina hydro scheme between April and mid-November. The prolonged period of natural flows left many of the fishing flats exposed to frosts and weather over winter, leaving them fresh and fertile for the oncoming summer. Low hydro-flows have been released over the past fortnight, with clear water and excellent trout inundating the flats. The younger fish in the 2-2.5lb range are very well conditioned, and the weedbeds are forming very well for summer. The older fish are a little lean, which is not unusual. It should be a cracker of a summer for red spinners and dragonflies, providing the flows increase into December. Below Brumbys, in the lower Macquarie, the low flows have left the river looking anaemic and murky, but despite this, excellent fish to 4lbs have been polaroided hugging the edges, feeding on stick caddis and spinners. The 12km between Cressy and Longford will be a hotspot over summer, as soon as levels get above 1.6m at the Cressy Pumps. (You can check this easily on the front page of www. tasfish.com - go to Brumbys Creek Water Level.) Black Spinners, Stick Caddis and Shaving Brush patterns will fool most of the trout, most of the time, throughout summer.
Towards the central north and north-west, the middle and lower Meander remained murky from Quamby Brook downstream, however, the upper Meander featured excellent baetid and caddis hatches, with plenty of fish taking single dries along with the usual tungsten nymphs. Similar on the Mersey where good hatches in the lower reaches saw plenty of afternoon rises, with caddis nymphs particularly active, and the odd sea-runner around Latrobe. Look out for an excellent summer in the middle and upper Mersey this year, where wild-spawned rainbows would have benefitted in size from the past two winters of high flows. The Fastwater Dun, Scruffy and small tungsten Pheasant and Peacock Nymphs are our go-to flies for these rivers, and keep an eye out for the giant stonefly on the Mersey during the hottest days in January. For these hatches we use a WMD Hopper with an orange body.
River fishing tips to try during summer
Fish the faster shin to knee- deep water during hot summer days, this will be the hotspot. This is the area of the river with the most insect activity, and oxygen, and is usually found just below the riffle.
Current seams (these are the tiny ribbons of current formed where two currents meet) are often found flowing along, and over drop-offs on slower rivers such as the lower Macquarie. Where a seam combines with an undercut bank and / or drop-off, you’ll typically find consistent fishing. Make sure your fly drifts along the correct side of the seam (usually the bank side of the current), as a feeding trout will rarely cross a seam of current to feed on the alternate side.
Feeder creeks and the headwaters of rivers are awesome to fish with the dry fly during summer. The best time to fish them is a day or two after a decent rain, as the increased depth leaves the trout feeling safer, and the fish don’t spook one another as easily.
Daniel Hackett, RiverFly Tasmania & FlyShop 1864 www. flyshop1864.com.au 45 Cameron Street, Launceston
Look out for the summer 2011/2012 river report and late summer river fishing tips in the next edition of TFBN. Also check for regular fishing reports on www.tasfish.com