Lake Leake 4/5/2013

My fishing cobber and I finished-off the season last weekend at our main stamping ground - Lake Leake.
Frank took two browns and a nice rainbow on a Tassie Devil “Rowley’s Riot” hard lure. I took three rainbows – one on a Gary Glitter soft plastic and the other two on a small green wiggle-tail plastic.
Because of the powerful wind that just wouldn’t let up we stayed near the shacks, mainly near the dam and along to Cutting Grass. The browns were around the corner in the lee of Coglan’s Point. They were not much above a pound each but nicely coloured. Frank’s rainbow was one of the October released fish and still had quite a bit of the fish farm fat inside.

My three fish, around 700gm cleaned, (all caught in front of Cutting grass) had been eating small snails and a few boatmen, but most of their gut was full to overflowing with what I believe to be coot faeces .  There is presently a huge raft of Eurasian coots in the area and the fish were right under where the coots are feeding. The flesh of all three trout was of a greyish hue and didn’t invite eating.  This said – they seemed healthy enough in themselves.
It has been a strange season at Lake Leake.  Carrying over from the year before there was a huge flock of the big black cormorants on the lake.  Then in came hundreds of hardhead duck and a small band of coots.  The cormorants moved out, but the ducks stayed into the New Year, and when they left the coots moved-in in numbers I haven’t seen since the 1960’s at Leake.
For us the fishing throughout the season was disappointing to say the least.  2011/12 was quite good, with solid well-conditioned rainbows quite common.  Browns were becoming scarce though as the older fish died out and because of the dry winters there hadn’t been much recruitment from the Snow River.
IFS introduced a swag of domestic rainbows in March 2012, and they were fun at the time. But they seem to have been hard hit by the cormorants. It has been noticeable that quite a few of the fish we did catch have beak marks on the sides (including 3 of the 6 fish my mate and I took this closing weekend).
The Service put some larger domestic rainbows in last October, and I was happy to take 6 out. They are fun to catch and good tucker. Frank mate caught a few too.
Apart from the big “put and take” fish, perhaps the one saving grace about the lake is that a few small browns are beginning to show.  Earlier in the season they were just too small to keep, but by now are in the 320mm range and seem to be going OK. There are few of the older adult fish, and when seen tend to be a bit slender and clearly “over the hill”.
The water clarity at Leake has been excellent throughout most of the season. But we struggled to find trout on top. Many we caught had been down on snails and very few cruised the shallows, even when there were some beetle falls in the Spring.
I guess the main thing is that the cormorants seem to have taken a major toll, as they have in many other waters this season. But their numbers are now down to a more usual size and maybe what we got was a spill-over from the mainland flood boom in bird breeding – shags, ducks and coots.
Another oddity about this season was that redfin didn’t appear in our catch until well into December, and then fairly sparsely.
Most seasons we would fish well over 90% with the fly – this season it would have been about 80% spinning. Just couldn’t find fish with the fly gear. Even early morning midge fishing (not a lot of it because of windy weather) was rather poor; only schools of mini-rainbows seemed to come up, and then very intermittently.
We cross our fingers and hope for a better season come the Spring. We need a bit of water in the Snow river to give the brownies a bit of a boost.

Peter Toohey