Great Lake by Boat

An examination of this summer's boat fishing prospects.
In this two part series, Neil Grose of Tasmania's Premier Fly Fishing Guides gives a run down on what is most likely to produce the goods over the coming four months of summer.

Great Lake would have to be the most under utilised trout fishery in Tasmania, it has huge stocks of wild browns and good supplies of rainbows, together with many secluded bays and open stretches of clean, pure water. This is intended to be a brief guide for this huge expanse of water, to cover Great Lake in any sort of detail could well fill several volumes, and although a worthwhile exercise, this brief look will have to suffice.
For these two articles I have split the lake into two parts. The half way point is in a straight line between Canal Bay, and Elizabeth Bay. In this first article, the southern half of the lake will be covered. This end of the lake really fires around the Christmas/New Year period, and is worth the attention of all trout anglers at the beginning of summer.
In each of these quarters fly fishing and drift spinning will be covered. Trolling is a different kettle of fish, and in the next issue an in depth look at how to trick trout on the troll will be done.
One of the great delights of the Great Lake is that while is it easily accessed in each corner, the well equipped angler can still find seclusion in companion with good fishing.

Canal Bay
Canal bay is one of the best bays for the fly fisher, excellent polaroiding on bright days, huge midge hatches of an evening, together with reliable wind lanes and good beetle falls are enough to keep the dedicated dry fly fisher more that happy.
Boat polaroiding is an excellent option in a good bright north westerly, by standing up in a suitably stable craft the field of vision is greatly expanded. Early in the angling season the galaxia are actively hunted by the trout, big matuka and yeti patterns fished along the rough and rocky shores give some very exciting action.
For the spin fisher a westerly wind is excellent, as it drifts the boat across the deeper water and onto the eastern bank. As the boat drifts over the deeper water let the lure sink deeper into the water before commencing the retrieve, as this lets it get closer to those big browns on the bottom. It is worthwhile experimenting with some big deep diving lures all through the summer, as some very large fish have shown up on the sounder, and they are most probably after the newly hatched trout from Liaweenee Canal. Big jointed Rapalas and similar bibbed minnow type lures are excellent for these big cannibal trout.

Duck Bay and Boundary Bay
These two bays are very similar in character and in fishing potential. Both have sloping shorelines that at current levels push up into the drowned scrub. These two areas are great for drifting a team of English dry flies on a bright and warm summer's day, the trout really do love to come to the surface and clip them down.
On rough wintry days the drifting spin fisher can realise big bags of good hard fighting browns and rainbows, as can the intrepid wet fly fisher. For the spinner the Loftys # 18 and similar colours are good; the Ashley spinner #14 is a great traditional fish taker.  For the fly fisher Bill Becks cat fly is very hard to beat, paired up with an Alexandra, they make a great team.

Christmas Bay
A magnificent bay, a few seasons ago when the level first came up it was simply teeming with tailing trout, and it still produces good fish on the right morning. For the boatie, the dry flies are excellent, simply drifted along the shore line with the wind, or if conditions allow, hunting the wind lanes for the midge and beetle feeders. The new generation of English dries are excellent, as are the old favourites such as the red tag and similar ties. The usual standbys for the lure
casters are best, some of the best drift spinning is to drift parallel to the shore line and cast into the shallower water. On still mornings there are some magnificent windlanes that stretch out of the bay towards the Bee Hives. While these are often thought to be the domain of the fly fisher, smart spin fishers can get in on the act as well, simply drift down the wind lane casting either to the fish you can see, or just cover the water. Where no trout can be seen to be moving, let the lure sink for 5 seconds before retrieving it. Quite often a silvery rainbow will be the result.

Swan Bay, including Dud Bay and Haddens Bay.

Swan Bay is perhaps the feature bay of the whole lake, the panoramic view that is gained from the Great Lake Hotel is absolutely magnificent. The wind lanes out in the open water of an early morning, as well as late in the evening are sensational; all sorts of trout food finds its way onto the water. I have seen gum beetles so thick in wind lanes out in Swan Bay that they literally touch each other for over a kilometre, millions and millions of them. The midges hatch with great abundance in the calm morning air, and when these are swept into the slicks the rainbows come out to play. As dark begins to fall the caddis begin to flutter out into the danger zone, often bringing up the cheeky little pounders for a boisterous meal. As dark falls even deeper, particularly when a fresh breeze blows, the wet fly fishing can be phenomenal. The flies must be cast right into the shoreline; good local angler Joe Riley uses a Tiaphi Tickler to great effect on the drift in the gloomy light.
For the spin fisher the rocky shores are a good bet, particularly as the light begins to fail, or on cloudy, blustery days. A lure with a goodish part of red, green and gold should do the trick, remember to let it sink, and always work the lure with the rod tip. As mentioned earlier, don't ignore the wind lanes, clever spin fishers can pull good fish out from under the fly fisher's noses, so to speak!

The Dam
This area is more the bastion of the spin fisher, the only attraction for the fly fisher is the slicks and wind lanes of an evening. The dam attracts some great trout along the front of the wall, if the wind is kind enough to allow a drift parallel to the wall the some good trout should result. A very careful eye should be kept on the weather here, as should a northerly get up in a hurry, the some huge waves will result.

Becketts Bay
This is perhaps my favourite part of the lake, although many would probably wonder why. The main feature here is the reef out in the middle part of this bay, called Maclanachans Island, or reef, depending upon water level. The dry fly fishing around here is magnificent, but usually only when the waves get up to around three feet. Peter Hayes and I in our big boats don't have a problem with waves this size, others may not have the same luxury. The drift spinning around here is brilliant as well, although a cloudy day is better suited that a bright one.
This is one of those areas in Great Lake where the weed beds are relatively close to the surface, and this means good, well conditioned trout, usually browns, but the odd rainbow turns up. On bright days the trout can be seen high up in the waves, often from a great distance. These fish are usually easy to catch if the fly or lure is cast accurately. When casting lures at these fish it is best to use smaller types, they only seem to follow the bigger lures, never really making any attempt to scoff your offering.
Any dry fly seems to do, Jim Allen uses a very large red tag, Peter and I favour the English dry flies, although that is no real surprise.
Right out in the middle of the lake, roughly north of the Maclanachans reef are two smaller reefs, which lift up off the floor of the lake and poke through the surface. There are a lot of trout around here, in a bright fresh northerly they really seem to thrive. There is also a significant population of cormorants here, and they aren't there for a haircut, that's for sure!

Tods Corner
One of the premier bays on the lake, this bay plays host to some magnificent fishing. Along with Elizabeth and Muddy Bay, Todds corner is the most fertile of all Great Lake, it has some good if sporadic mayfly hatches, as well as good midge and caddis fishing. The inflow from Arthurs Lake enters the lake here, the resulting current is a great place to find a nice rainbow on a lure or deep fished wet fly. The rainbows love the moving water, as well as the nutrient rich water from Arthurs, and this springs some great fishing.
If there were one aspect of Tods corner that separates it from the rest, it would be the evening fishing. Tods is perhaps one of the only reliable places to find an evening rise, the fish are usually close far enough out from the shore to give polite boat fishing distance from the shore-based angler. Spin fishers do very well spinning in the deeper water on dark, while the fly fishers using patterns such as the Dunny Brush, Sunset Fly, Tiaphi Tickler, as well as bulky caddis patterns often receive excellent action. The south eastern corner is usually best, although the long shore around towards Shoobridge Island is a great place for some evening prospecting. In the shallower water lure fishers should use smaller lures, the small yellow Loftys is a great lure for this style of angling.
The exposed eastern shore from Tods Corner up to Muddy Bay is an excellent place to drift dry flies on a light and bright southerly or northerly, as this gives a great parallel drift. There are plenty of fish along here, and many times we have been pleasantly surprised by the number of fish that lift up to suck in a dry fly.
For the spinners this shore is a little too exposed when the rougher weather arrives, as this means usually a big and angry wave along this shore.

Elizabeth Bay and Muddy Bay.
This is a great area on the lake, although receives comparatively little attention from anglers. It is exposed to the brunt of the westerlies, but in a north wind the fishing can be spectacular. If the angler can find the patches of green weed, then the trout are very easy to polaroid, and providing the cast is kind, easy enough to catch.
There are some huge areas of drowned timber around the island, and this is home to many good sized trout. For the spin angler the drifts around the points and baylets are good, especially if there are good areas of underwater structure, such as rocks and fallen trees and stumps. There are also plenty of sub surface rocky reefs just out in the open water, these are great holding places for trout, both brown and rainbow. The rainbows here can be found in the open water as well, drift spinning through the deeper sections of this bay can prove very productive. When doing this experiment with lure colour, bright can often be best!
For the fly angler there are many types of fishing to try. The wind lanes and slicks are always worth a try, and being so close to large stands of tree, the gum beetle falls are often a good food source for the trout in the slicks. There are also huge populations of stick caddis around the more fertile areas, these certainly give the hard feeding trout plenty to consume. The great thing about caddis feeders is that they are never too fussy about what they eat, and well presented dries are the down fall of many good browns and rainbows.

The southern half of the "big lake" has some magnificent fishing potential, and I think no one has really worked out its full potential. It is a great place to escape the crowds of Arthurs Lake, the fish are bigger, and there is of course the chance to snare one of those hard fighting rainbows.

Next issue the northern half of the lake gets the once over, and there are some very special places there indeed.

Neil Grose
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