Autumn is such a wonderful time of the year. Cool nights, mostly sunny days and light winds. As I write this I am looking out over Great Lake – there is a slight ripple and some superb slicks gliding about here and there. I will go and look more closely at them after lunch. Hatches of jassids and ants are on the trout’s menu and both of these small insects end up in the slicks that form with the morning breeze.
The trout often go crazy on them.
My season was filled with a mixture of highs and lows. I spent some time in the Kimberley and experienced some great fishing there. I thought previously that Cape York probably had the best salt water fishing in Australia, but northwestern Australia also has its fair share.
The highlight was polaroiding a sailfish and seeing the hookup. That is as good as it gets.
My trout season though had its good, bad and ugly side though.
We are lucky in Tasmania to have the many lakes that are surrounded by gum trees.
There are numerous insects that live in the trees, and on the right day they will be blown onto the water. Gum beetles are one delicacy for trout and they often cruise the shallow margins of a lake looking for these and will slurp them down with gusto. So when the breeze is warm the rod and the flies are put into the car and away I go.
It’s Christmas time again and that means dry fly fishing is well underway. There are not many fly fishers who don’t look forward to fishing the dry. Seeing the fish take the fly really starts the adrenalin flowing.
The fly this time is a very well tested emerger which I suppose is nearly a dry but does sit rather low in the water surface. The entire fly except for the tail is tied out of CDC feathers. The cul de canard, or CDC, feather comes from around the oil preen gland of the duck it is this feather fly tyers love to use.
Come in spinner that’s what all the fly fishing people are waiting for—the spinner hatches of spring time. On the rivers it will happen through October sometimes, it’s mostly dependent on the weather it’s those balmy mild spring days with little or no wind that’s required. On the highland lakes the first to be seen are normally a month later and for the past two seasons it has been so good one is not sure where to go first. So October and November are fairly well booked for me it will be mostly shore based fishing on the lowland rivers and highland lakes. Mid to late morning on the rivers and on a really good day the hatch can go on till late afternoon mind you that’s the rarity not the norm. Highland lakes spinner hatches are a little different in I like a slight breeze pushing off shore that’s to carry the spinners out onto deep water then better fish will hopefully feed. River fish will mostly work a beat. They will cover a few metres and disappear for a short time and then reappear and start the beat again. Stillwater fish will rise spasmodically so keep a sharp eye on the rise and try and judge which way the fish will head taking note where the fishes head is. This will mostly give the direction. Place the fly out in front so the fish will come upon it. My spinner patterns are fairly simple both red and black. Black Spinner Hook – Finewire size 14 12 10 Thread – Black Tail – Black cock fibres Rib – Very fine silver or copper wire Hackle – Black cock hackle Red Spinner Hook – Finewire size 12 10 Thread – Orange Tail – Black cock fibres Rib – Silverwire Head – One fine peacock herl Hackle – Red cock hackle Method for red spinner 1. Place hook in vice 2. Starting at the eye end take the thread the full length of the shank 3. Place a small bunch of cock fibres on top of rear end of shank tie down firmly and cut excess fibres away 4. Tie in rib and take thread two thirds of the way toward the eye now bring rib forward with nice even turns to where the thread is hanging cut away excess rib 5. Take one fine peacock herl and tie in cut away excess herl. Tie in hackle and wind forward toward eye making a nice tight hackle cut away any excess hackle 6. With the fine peacock herl wind it through the hackle try not to crush the hackle too much cut away excess peacock herl 7. Whip finish cut thread away and varnish The black spinner is tied the same but omit the peacock herl. Call 1300 787 060 Express
Hoppers, hoppers and more hoppers and I am not talking about grasshoppers. Jassid is the name and they are leafhoppers. On Saturday the 27th of February we had a hatch of these insects in numbers that I haven’t seen for many years. The back wall of our shed was covered with dozens of these small insects. A few days later I was at Bronte Lagoon where I had these insects landing on my shirt. On both occasions the jassids were of the brown variety. They are still very much on the trout’s diet if there is enough to get the interest going. In Tasmania’s highlands there seems to be mostly two different colours, that’s brown or red bodies. Groups of jassids cluster together to feed on the young eucalypts. These insects particularly the very young will be attended by ants which feed on the honeydew excreted by the jassid.
The week between Christmas and the New Year saw Bill and myself about as remote as one can get in Tasmania. We even visited some lakes we had not been to before. Yes, I am talking about the Western lakes.
In nearly forty years of wandering those areas we struck gold with the weather. I can not remember ever having six straight days of blue sky - the norm is two or three days. So having these superb days we covered as much water as possible. That country never gets any easier but at least one can polaroid when the blue sky is there. We found the fish in superb condition, not huge but in the one and a half to two kilogram mark, and plenty of them.
While the winter months have been ticking by I have been on a couple of northern fishing trips one catching barra, threadfin salmon, trevally along with a couple of dozen other species. Trip number two was to New Britain which is part of New Guinea, we were fishing for the hard fighting black and spot tail bass, they are a remote fish in an absolute remote area of the world. It was a great trip and really is good to broaden one's knowledge into other fish species.
It's that time of year when everybody's optimism is running very high. Most are contemplating what the new trout season will bring. One thing is for sure - it will be cold. The rivers will be brownish in colour as we have had some good recent rain which has made for some swollen streams, this is wonderful as the trout will be foraging for food washed into backwaters by the excess water and they will be in prime condition when the weather warms up.
The highland lakes are another story. Both Great Lake and Arthurs are rising with good flows of water from recent rain. As normal, this time of the year the surrounding shore lines will be icy if not iced all over. It takes a little while for the lakes to get rid of the winter blues, but the fishing can be good if you can put up with the cold. So if you are fishing in the highland areas, be prepared for extreme weather.
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