Presented from Issue 100
Weather - It’s the determining factor for most anglers in working out where to fish on a given day. “Too bright for here” ,”They won’t be tailing in this wind”, “It’s Easterly today so it’s going to be tough” these saying are all too familiar and they do have implications if we want success at catching a trout.
Picking the right weather can make or break an outing, a good decision can produce a red letter day while a bad decision can make chasing a trout hard work. So often I’ve spoken to visiting anglers who have struggled to catch fish without the all important local knowledge, they made decisions to visit waters which don’t fire in the wrong weather.
Even when you choose a venue based on weather it can do a complete about turn. At these times a change of tactics or even venue may be in order. Knowing when to make changes either in technique, location on a venue or even completely changing venues can be a big factor in a day of fishing.
Having said all of this; what’s they key to success, how do we make things happen when the weather seems to be against us? There was a time when I used to study the weather chart for a couple of days before an outing, knowing the prevailing pattern, whether the barometer was rising or falling and judging the all important cloud cover. These days we have more access to weather and more reliable weather forecasts than ever. The bureau of meteorology at www.bom.gov.au has 30 minute updates for weather stations throughout Tasmania, information includes rainfall, humidity, average wind speed, gusting strength. This site also has radar coverage for current rainfall as it crosses Tasmania. Radar images will also let you know the amount of cloud cover and rain as it occurs over anywhere in Australia.
My favourite weather site is https://www.yr.no/ this is a Norwegian website which produces a weather forecast in an easy to read format, showing the predicted weather in 6 hourly increments for the days to come. It shows, cloud cover, wind direction and strength, temperature and predicted rainfall for the given periods in an easy to understand format, what’s more it’s often very accurate - as much as a weather forecast get anyway.
Where to fish and when.
It’s often a hard call, whether to head up Poatina to a highland lake, or whether to fish a river or one of the lower lakes. With the exception of grasshopper time, the Northern rivers are best fished in calm weather, bright or overcast conditions do not matter too much. Unfortunately, all too often a wind will pick up late morning to early afternoon in the North of the State, and this can put down freely rising fish.
The time for calm weather to fish the rivers tends to be when a high pressure system is sitting right over the state. The high pressure system arrives with a wind which has a Southerly aspect, then settles as the system passes over the State before turning Northerly and picking up strength as the system continues to travel East towards New Zealand. Generally speaking the closer the isobars on the weather chart the stronger the wind will be in any given direction. High pressure systems rotate anti clock wise and therefore commence with a Southerly wind and end with a Northerly.
In late summer the best time for grass hopper conditions is the latter part of the high when strong Northerly winds carry high temperatures from the North off the mainland , this makes grass hoppers most active and the wind helps to carry them onto the water when jumping and flying around the bank side. If fishing a river on a windy day it also pays to head to forested streams or rivers where terrestrial insects will be blown off trees onto water, these conditions are all great indicators for dry fly fishing.
On our highland lakes, the best fly fishing is linked to what the food will be doing at certain times and in the prevailing weather conditions. The fertile, shallow lakes with abundant weed beds tend to produce the best overall aquatic hatches, the majority of these in overcast conditions. Likewise terrestrial insect falls attract more attention from trout in waters where there is not so much food available under the surface, deeper sections of lakes, or waters where there isn’t an abundance of aquatic weed growth.
When choosing a lake venue to fish on a given day, weather, for me is probably the greatest single consideration. As a rule of thumb these fertile shallow lakes such as Arthurs Lake, Penstock and Little Pine Lagoon, Woods Lake, the mayfly lakes, fish best under overcast conditions. Less fertile lakes such as Great Lake, Augusta Dam are more suited to bright weather. Of course this is only a rule of thumb and all of these lakes have some amazing ishing in differing conditions, however this fishing tends to be more localised and has to be found in the prevailing weather. Waters like Bronte Lagoon and Pine Tier Dam offer a bit of both worlds, having abundant weed beds, but also areas of timbered shore allowing plenty of terrestrial insects to come to the water in warmer, brighter weather.
Choosing a venue according to the weather is a good move
However Tasmania with its often changeable weather means that you can start in ideal conditions and within a few hours be stuck with the exact opposite. How many times does it happen where you get to Little Pine Lagoon, it’s overcast and a gentle north westerly breeze is blowing, perfect for a dun hatch, then by lunch time you are sitting in a flat calm without a cloud in sight.
Deciding to change tactics is important in changing weather conditions. When the expected fall or hatch does not eventuate what next? Look for where the food will be available for the trout to take advantage of. On a mayfly lake when the wind drops out the lee shore will be where spinners start becoming active, where they will drift out onto the water so that trout will still rise picking the off as they touch down. Likewise on Great Lake and other lakes with timbered shores insects will first hit the water where the wind does, however as they day progresses and the wind continues the food will concentrate towards the bottom of the wind. Even if the fall hasn’t eventuated, trout will be in those areas looking for what should be.
Think about where the fish should be and why, if you are fishing wet flies and the weather turns change accordingly. If it suddenly gets bright, seek out coloured water, or reduce the size of your west flies and fish deeper water also, these things can tilt the balance back in your favour when trout become warier in the calm or bright conditions.
It’s hard to give specific tactics as fly fishing is so subjective in day to day, or hour to hour conditions. Plan your trip according to the best venue for the best conditions according to the latest weather forecast. When you are on the water think about what’s going on around you, and when the weather changes look to take advantage of what opportunities that weather will bring. Trout survive by knowing where the food will be and when they will be best able to eat it. As anglers we need to judge what the trout will be doing by reading the conditions, and making the right decisions about what the trout will be doing. It all takes practice and time and no one gets it right all of the time, however it is possible to make the right judgments consistently and increase your fishing results.