Mike Fry doesn’t only live on the Wild Side of Tasmania, but also goes fishing in probably the wildest boat ever to troll for trout—certainly in Tasmania.
When your mate says ‘What are you doing tomorrow, want to come up the Gordon for the night?’ it would be pretty hard to say anything else except “you bet” and start checking out your tackle box and packing your overnight bag. But if your mate was Troy Grining and he wanted to give his new 52ft, high speed cruiser a run across Macquarie Harbour, test the new onboard dory with a chance of landing a nice Gordon River Brown you would have to feel privileged. I didn’t say anything about getting on my hands and knees and kissing his feet…just having a lend of ya’ but I did feel very appreciative.
It had been over 16 years since I last fished Lake Rowallan. As a young man growing up in the rural community of Deloraine, it was a lake reasonably close to home and where I spent many a night camped on its shorelines. My last trip there was 14 December 1994. I remember this as I have a picture of a 14 pound brown trout on my lounge room wall with that date on the plaque. It is my biggest ever trout and the memories of that catch remain with me as if it were yesterday. To see a fish of that size come out of Rowallan’s light tannin coloured depths was something I will never forget but as I was a bit of a “scallywag” in those days, and I won’t elaborate on that, it was a reward that to this day…. I hardly felt that I had earn’t. Many things have changed since then, the most notable is the outlook and respect I now possess for our fisheries and those charged with looking after them. Anyway, with this all in mind, I decided to hook on the trailer, grab a couple of mates and head back for a day’s fishing at a lake that I seemed to have forgotten about . Why it’s been so long between drinks I cannot answer, perhaps it’s just another one of those lakes that are largely forgotten about… and I don’t know why. It is a lake close to many of our major population areas, yet seems to fly under the radar of most of the State’s freshwater anglers. In fact I would go so far as to say that many wouldn’t even know where it is. It is well stocked, has some absolute monsters in it and is very easily accessed, especially to those living in Tasmania’s North and North West. You hardly ever hear of any fishing reports coming from it and those that do fish it on a regular basis seem to like to keep it that way.
Jim Schofield, Steven Hambleton and I had made an early start to the day with a dawn run on the wind lane feeders on Great Lake. As the morning progressed and the midge feeders disappeared we moved onto some boat polaroiding. There was a northeasterly wind blowing as we punched our way into chop from Swan Bay towards the southern side of Howells Neck Island. The water level of Great Lake had dropped so much that Howells Neck Island was no longer an island and was more like an extension of Elizabeth Bay. As we moved into the shallows, fish were spotted almost immediately. Big buggy Chernobyl Ants, Red Tags and stick caddis all took fish. Further along the shore the wind was blowing into the shoreline stirring up the water along its edge. A closer look saw fish appear and then disappear in amongst this band of discoloured water. The fish were also patrolling the clearer less turbulent water. A single hookup quickly turned into a double hook up, then a triple hookup as all three of us made the most of a steady run of fish as the boat continued to drift down this productive shore. Fish numbers started to drop off, as the features of the lake started to change. In an attempt to seek out similar water we crossed over to the western side of the lake into Canal Bay. With the wind and sun at our back we drifted in and along the southern shore. Conditions were perfect, with blue skies and a light wind to conceal our presence, we had fish swimming right up to within a couple of metres of the boat before they would spook. It was just one of those days when everything came together. We stayed for the evening rise in Swan Bay as usual, before finally calling it a day. We had fished from dawn to dusk and had done it all from the comfort of Jim’s mobile viewing platform. Far too civilized for me, now where are those walking boots!
For many southern anglers Lake Sorell has been one of the most popular, accessible and productive brown trout fisheries. Its shores were home to private shacks, club shacks, and hundreds of campers.
That is until the sudden infestation of carp, a problem that continues to plague this water. Despite continuing efforts since 1995 by the Inland Fisheries Service to eradicate the pest, the Spring of 2009 saw an increase in juvenile carp which, according to IFS Director, John Diggle, was “the biggest spawning event we have had.”
It is estimated that around 5,000 carp are now swimming around Lake Sorell where as prior to last year’s spawning, numbers were less than 50.
According to the Director, “The good thing is that these fish are all juveniles and as they are unable to breed for a couple of years we have a window of opportunity to wipe them out.”
IFS staff have already taken out over 14,000 carp from Lake Sorell last summer, and it is vital to eradicate mature carp as soon as possible as a four kilogram carp has the potential to lay one million eggs.
John Diggle believes Lake Crescent is now free of carp and that, in itself, is quite an achievement. No juveniles have been found since 2000, and no adult females have been detected for nearly three years. According to Diggle, “It is a clear demonstration that we can and will eradicate carp from Lake Sorell.”
Although carp do eat some macro-invertebrate species that brown trout also enjoy, they are not predators of trout fry or fingerlings. The issue is what carp can do to the food chain and to the water quality.
Compounding the presence of carp in Lake Sorell is the issue of poor water quality resulting from drought conditions. This is also impacting on Lake Crescent. Both waters have high levels of turbidity – colloidal particles in suspension which don’t settle to the bottom of the lake bed. According to Diggle, “It’s a bit like a farm dam that doesn’t clear, and that just isn’t attractive to anglers.”
Whilst this is a result of drought conditions in this part of the island, low water levels back in 2000 also contributed, especially in Lake Sorell where there has been some erosion of the lake bed.
Currently the water management plan for the Clyde catchment area is under review, and there will obviously be some discussion around critical minimum water levels necessary to sustain both trout fisheries, and especially for the protection of Golden Galaxias in Lake Crescent. No doubt other stakeholders – irrigators and local town water supplies – will be seeking their share of the resource. But there is no doubt that the IFS is putting a strong case for critical minimum water levels so that this fishery can once again be a prime destination for trout anglers.
If water levels can be sustained, the carp eradicated, and water turbidity controlled there is no reason why Lake Sorell can’t regain its former status as one of the state’s top fisheries which used to attract 50% of the state’s anglers in any one season. Afterall, there is a very good head of fish in Sorell resulting from excellent natural spawning conditions, albeit dependent upon variable rainfall patterns.
According to the IFS Director, “That’s what I want … that’s what I have been working on for years. However, our problem may not be so much about carp or water quality but climate change. If the things people are saying about climate change are true, and it is only going to get drier than we are now, the future may not so promising for either lake, or for most of the eastern part of the island.”
Then again, Lake Dulverton is now full and has been stocked; Tooms Lake is spilling and has also been stocked; and Craigbourne Dam should again deliver angling delights for southern family expeditions to this water.
So it looks like at least two years before Lake Sorell will again be open for anglers, although the IFS will assess the situation at the end of each summer.
Connor caught this cracking 7.15pound 680mm Brown Trout from Lake Leake today.
Biggest I have seen from the lake in a very long time!
Thought you might like the pictures!
Click Read More for picture.
Fellow Anglers Scott and I would personally like to thank the persons who helped us with our broken spring on our boat trailer...(trailer is 5 years old) Norm for his knowledge on how to get us home and his rope knots...thats obviously why not too many fish escape him. Bert for his knowledge and the whole roll of duck tape.....the repairer is going to love you :) Gerry for his wire, Neil for his nice piece of fence post.
This 2 kg trout was caught on mudeyes at the Guide Reservoir today.
Background Information on the Guide Reservoir
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Fit healthy fish having a devil of a time on a cool evening
With the lake waters still around the 20°C and a cool evening with a north easterly wind, we decided to take my sister’s boyfriend Joe out for a fish on the lake, as he had never caught a trout before.
We fished Lake Augusta alongside Mark Tapsell today. We finished with four well conditioned browns and missed numerous others, probably each of us should have caught our bag if luck had gone our way. All fish were taken on dun patterns although the real deal was hard to find on the water.
We were both pleasantly surprised at the condition and strength of these fish. There is plenty of water in Augusta at the moment.
The IFS guys were out and about conducting licence checks and said they had been issuing a lot of infringement notices to unlicensed anglers.
MAST is looking for feedback on this proposal before construction starts in April.
Any queries, comments or suggestions please let me know. (see attached PDF)
Denis Edwards - Executive Officer
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Hello everyone, I thought it would be a good time to introduce myself.
My name is Stephen Smith and I have been managing the website tasfish.com since May 2009.
It has been an epic journey of learning and discovery and I am indebted to Mike Stevens for his help, support and patience.
I am developing a new venture Rubicon Web and Technology Training ( www.rwtt.com.au ). The focus is two part, to develop websites for individuals and small business and to train people to effectively use technology in their everyday lives.
Please contact me via www.rwtt.com.au/contact-me/ for further information - Stephen Smith.
Recently Atlantic salmon seems to be a very hot topic amongst local anglers, especially those in the south of the state in the D'Entrecasteaux area. Northern anglers should take a close look at the Tamar as there are opportunities here as well.
The recent "great escape" has provided a perfect opportunity for fresh and saltwater anglers alike to experience some truly memorable sport. Tasmania's pristine, clean and cool waters are the perfect nursery for the Atlantic Salmon and as our local fish farms produce more and more fresh quality seafood it is a fact that there are going to be tangible consequences.