Presented from Issue 98
The 29th April 2012 saw the closure of most of our Tasmanian brown trout waters. It is a time that, in a strange sort of way, many freshwater anglers look forward to after a long and “hopefully” rewarding summer.
On a personal basis, come this time of year, it is enough for me to tie up a few flies or perhaps to read a good fishing book, allowing myself to get caught up in the romance of it all — whilst in comfort of a warm home
In my view, it is a time for reflection on the season past, and a time of anticipation looking forward. After all, that first weekend in August, (when it starts all over again), is only a couple of months away. For other anglers, they simply don’t stop, they love their fishing and if a water is declared open, they will fish it, and why not?
The fish are there, they are usually aggressive and keen to restore condition after a rigorous spawning campaign. If you are out there having a go, a very large fish could well be your reward. In this article, the editor (Mike Stevens) has asked me to write on a couple of waters that I know well and that are available to be fished all year round for those brave enough to face the elements during these colder months.
Whilst there are many other waters that remain open, such as Craigbourne Dam, Lake Barrington, Lake Pedder and Meadowbank, I will focus on the three I know best.
It would be fair to say that the size and condition of Great Lake fish disappointed this season and this water seems to be going through some sort of cyclical change. The general consensus is that it has many old fish that are currently being pushed off its fertile weed beds by the younger cohorts and that is why we are seeing a lot more fish in poor condition coming to the net.
I don’t know if that theory is correct as I am in no way an expert on these things, but I did see many young fish around the 1.5 to 2 pound mark whilst spawning at Liawenee, they looked fit and strong so perhaps that rational is on the money.
By all accounts, due to the abundance of rainfall that we have witnessed, the spawning season came very early this year.
By the time you read this, most of the browns will have made their way back out of the feeder streams and into the lake proper, of course the rainbows will still be spawning for a while yet.
Soft plastics such as the Tassie Yep Flappers and Berkley T-tails will produce excellent results amongst the trees, especially whilst fishing from a boat, another method is to wade the Great Lakes edges.
Areas such as Swan Bay are great for someone fishing off the shore, but due to its rugged terrain, many a lure is lost as anglers cast out into it depths and get snagged in the deeper water before the lure can be fully retrieved.
A much better method is to wade out into the water to a level you feel comfortable with and cast horizontally along the shoreline, you will find there are as many fish feeding along the edges in a couple of feet of water as there are anywhere else, the trout are often in very close chasing galaxias and foraging for protein rich worms.
By adopting this approach, if you get snagged, you only have to walk along and unhook your lure from between your feet. This technique saves you plenty of fishing time, (not having to re-tie lures), and also a fair amount of money by not having to replace them!
For the trollers, the use of a couple of colours of lead line along with quality cobra wobblers such as
Tasmanian Stings (my favourites) and Wigstons Tassie Devils in black n gold, red n gold or yellow and black colours will see success. Hard body lures in the Yep Yellow Peril and Rainbow ripper models fished slowly towards or around shoreline near the Great Lake dam wall will also give excellent results, especially in a moderate westerly or North- westerly wind.
Other anglers tend to take a more laid back approach to their fishing in winter, preferring to fish bait off the shorelines within walking distance of a warming fire. Wattle grubs and especially worms fished in murky water near run offs will frequently surprise with big bags of fish often the end result for those daring to brave the elements.
Please be aware, that although Great Lake is open to all year round fishing, there are areas such as Canal Bay that are closed and it would pay the visiting angler to fully familiarise themselves in regards to the “go and no go areas” of this lake. A simple referral to your pocket fishing code that you should have received with your licence purchase is all that is required before heading off, or a healthy fine “as well as fish” may be on offer.
As for fly fishing, anything in the Woolly bugger patterns that remotely resembles a small bait fish or large terrestrial should suffice; my favourites are claret with an orange tail or the “Shrek Fly”. The use of bead heads or sinking lines (depending on water depth you are fishing) will also dictate towards your success. It is also worth remembering that nothing moves fast at this time of year so slow retrieves are often the best approach.
Situated a couple of klms past the township of Meander, the Huntsman Lake began filling in March 2008 for use as an irrigation facility for farmers.
Although initially stocked with 1000 Great Lake Spawners and the following year, again, with another 300 brown trout, it relies on the numerous spawning streams that run into it for its major recruitment.
As with most new storage impoundments, hopes were high amongst the fishing fraternity that fish stocks would grow substantially in size whilst water inundated newly flooded ground and the fish gorged themselves.
So far at least, this has failed to eventuate and overpopulation seems to be keeping the size range on average at between 500 to 800grams. That being said, a few big browns in excess of 2 kgs seem to get caught from time to time.
The lake is well suited to trolling, spinning and soft plastics, whilst bait fishing is prohibited. Fly fishers walking the edges, especially on the western side of the lake will often see tails in the shallows as fish come in extremely close looking for worms and terrestrials.
Fishing is only permitted from 1 hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset and an automatic boom gate enforces those regulations.
For a family fishery, this water has plenty to offer in the winter months, with toilets, BBQ area’s and scenery second to none, especially when the surrounding mountains (Western tiers) are covered in snow.
I won’t go into specifics as to what lures work best here as it doesn’t seem to matter if the fish are “having a go”.
Black and gold along with green and gold colours are a popular choice here though. It is managed predominately as a brown trout fishery.
Brushy Lagoon is managed as a put and take fishery, with stockings largely dependent upon availability from hatchery stock.
With a daily bag limit of 5 fish per person per day (with only two allowed to be kept over 600 mm in length), it is unlikely that these fish will get caught out any time soon.
Recent reports are that very few are getting landed as they are not really interested in feeding that much at the moment.
I spoke to a couple of Inland Fisheries Officers at the recent Liawenee Open weekend, and they told me that they probably won’t feed regularly until at least the second or third week after release. With all legal angling methods allowed, the dam wall offers the best chance for land based anglers to try their luck as the salmon seem to congregate in that area and can often be seen swimming back and forth along it.
Wattle grubs under a float, soft plastics and spinning gear all produce results, but a boat is definitely an advantage.
There are two informal ramps at Brushy that cater for boats, but I wouldn’t recommend launching anything much bigger than 14 ft in length from them. This lagoon also hosts a large population of redfin perch that can be a nuisance, but that being said, some of these fish also reach in excess of three pounds in weight here, making them a welcome by -catch at times.
Brown and rainbow trout are present in this water also, but for some reason, they seem to be becoming less and less frequently caught here.
The Inland Fisheries have stocked Liawenee spawners into it in the past, (2009) and plenty of fingerlings, in fact, a quick look at the IFS data base dating back 5 years, will show an extraordinary amount of fish being placed here.
For some reason, the return catch rate from anglers doesn’t seem to reflect that effort though.
Back to the Atlantics, soft plastics in the Squidgy Killer red tomato, Gulp pumpkinseed, Gulp nuclear chicken colours or any big brightly coloured lure will attract attention from these oversized leviathans.
As for fly fishing, blind fly-fishing with traditional wets and brightly coloured woolly bugger type flies will work and a due to Brushy Lagoons reasonably shallow depth, you can get away with using a floating line only.
If you want to fish water in winter along with the very real prospect of hooking onto something big, this would be your best bet., but a word of warning, bring a big landing net!
So there you have it, a quick overview on three of the fisheries still available should you wish to brave the elements and head out over the winter period. Remember to rug up warm and good luck!