Fly fishing for sharks in Great Lake

by Jim Allen

It is now well over a decade since Peter Wilson of the Great Lake Hotel, now the Central Highlands Lodge discovered the "glowing sharks" in the late afternoon on the Great Lake while he took some time off from pub duties. Today a dedicated band of fly fishers watch the sky carefully every morning in the highlands hoping for a stiff northerly breeze and a cobalt blue sky.

Why Great Lake?

The Tasmanian lakes that are ideal for this fishing in the waves are the crystal clear and nearly blue water lakes like Lake St Clair, Dee Lagoon, Lake Echo and Great Lake and on the mainland some of the lakes in the Snowy Mountains like Eucumbene.

Water like Arthurs Lake and Bronte are more difficult but not impossible, because the water is clear but with an olive colour tinge. The real excitement is the sighting of the trout and casting with accurate presentations in the wind and the waves. The actual catching and landing of them is nearly secondary. On a perfect day a dozen trout to the boat would not be anything else but normal.

The northerly breeze usually brings with it a warm day for gum beetles, ants and any other terrestrial insect to hatch and a bright cobalt blue sky is essential. The biggest danger is the dreaded whispy cirrus clouds that often makes from the west heralding the next southerly change. These clouds make sight fishing so much more difficult and most times impossible leaving the only alternative for the boat angler to drift a shore with a large Chernobyl Ant (nicknamed "a thong" on some boats!) as an attractor and a smaller beetle or hopper pattern a metre behind.

But when the weather is perfect there is much excitement and expectation over coffee in the morning in highland shacks with anxious faces peering to the sky every few minutes, waiting for the sun to lift high enough for polaroiding.


The tackle required is a 9 foot stiffish rod for a six to eight weight line to cast in the breeze accurately and a weight forward line perhaps even a size heavier than that recommended by the rod maker to punch the line out fast. Leaders longer than 3 metres will cause problems and a 2 to 3 kg breaking strain point will be perfect in most circumstances.


Flies often don't matter by comparison to accurate presentation, but a Gibson's foam gum beetle has no equal.


Many anglers cruise just using their electric motors going across and parallel with the waves searching for the trout that are up in the waves. I still use my outboard motor as my 50hp Honda can go very slowly and quietly.

On my boat we fish as a team with one angler up the front "on point" with line laid out in the boat or over the side for a super fast presentation. 

On sighting a fish the driver pulls the boat out of gear and glides to the fish or reverses quietly to stop the forward motion.

As far as the fish are concerned the time of day does not seem to matter.

The fish are often in patches and it is quite important to hang around an area where you've seen a fish or two.

Learn to cast

Fast accurate casting is important and often I find myself frustrated screaming at a fellow angler that they don't eat the bloody fly with their tail. Put the fly in front of the fish. If you can't do it get a lesson from Peter Hayes. He is a fantastic casting teacher.

Jim Allen

Get the full story and all the details in the December January edition of Tasmanian Fishing and Boating News. On sale at all Tasmanian tackle stores and Newsagents.

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