by Sarah Graham
Many anglers are preparing for the opening of the new angling season on Saturday 7 August and it's shaping up to be another good one with the fishery in excellent health as a result of last year’s drought breaking rains. There are many great fishing locations around the State from which to choose for the opening weekend and early season fishing but here are a few suggestions.
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A cool change is on its way so I thought I had best get a spin session in before it arrives as the day goes on, this trip was close to home, it was to the Mersey River at Kimberley. It's an area I've fished for many years and it used to be a great area to fish until we had the 2016 record floods. That flood changed the majority of the Mersey River system, after the floods most of my favourite areas were completely washed away, the river was just a wide open river with five bridges destroyed or severely damaged and most of the river foliage gone. When everything settled down and I returned to fish the river it was like I was fishing a new river, the river had changed so much.
After being laid up for a while with a torn muscle in my back and then giving it a short two hour workout in the Mersey River yesterday in which I pulled up okay I decided I will get a spin session in again today. With rain looming in the distance I headed off to one of my favourite small tannin streams for a morning spin session in the hope of catching a few trout before it arrives. As soon as I arrived I darted over to see what the water level was like, it was running high, much higher than I thought it would have been. The 60mms of rain we had here four days ago has really lifted the water level, it was still at a safe wading height, the downside was I'll be in for a tough time finding trout in the faster flowing water. After a twenty five minute walk I was at my entry point where I started fishing for trout, my lure of choice was a #0 Mepps Aglia Fluo Phospho (white) lure. The reason I chose this lure was because of it's white coloured blade plus the Aglia blade is a wide blade that will send out plenty of vibration through the water as I retrieve it, hopefully that will be enough to attract a few trout. As I started fishing my way upstream I couldn't believe how cold the water was, it was very cold on the legs which was something I wasn't expecting today. To make matters worse I didn't wear my thermal gear today either thinking the water temperature would have been okay. Yesterday when I fished the Mersey River the water temperature was around the 12-13 degree mark, here it's only around 7-8 degrees.
Another change of weather is on the way, this time it includes thunderstorms and heavy rain so I made a hasty decision to head off the Mersey River before the change arrives. I checked the river levels online and saw that the river at Weegena was down to a reasonable level that was fairly safe for wading. It was 7:40 am when I hopped in the river and the first thing I noticed was the water temperature was sitting at 10 degrees which was good to see.
Rain,hail and cool conditions were forecast today, after having a 11:15 am doctor's appointment it was a late start to the day for my planned spin session in the upper Mersey River. On the way to the river there was quite a lot of weather moving in, very low dark rain clouds weren't all that far off from where I was heading. When I got to the river there was already someone in it fishing their way upstream so I headed to another stretch of river a couple of kilometres further upstream, a stretch of water I haven't fished for around 5 years. No sooner had I arrived (12:50 pm) I only had time to put on the wading gear when heavy rain & light hail arrived, all I could do was sit in the car and wait for it to pass. After a twenty minute wait it had passed and I was out of the car heading down to the river.
Another top day here in Sheffield today with a maximum temperature of 22 degrees followed up with a gusty South Westerly later in the day, a good day to hit one of the larger rivers again. This time it was the upper reaches of the Mersey River at Weegena that I headed to for the second time this season. My last trip here was quite a while ago, that trip was a real fizzer with just the one brown trout caught and released. I arrived at 7:50am and was in the river by 7:56am, the water was running very clear so I started the session off with a Mepps #0 Stone Fly Bug spinner.
After a forty five minute drive to the Meander River this morning (6:45am) only to find the river bottom full of green cotton like algae, it wasn't worth putting the gear on to fish the area so headed back to chase the Mersey River trout. By the time I reached my entry point in the Mersey River it was 8:55 am, not the early start I had originally planned. I started the spin session off in the same area that I've fished on my last couple of trips here, mainly because it's been giving up a few trout on those trips, so while the iron's hot stick with it. The river level was down marginally since my last spin session which was good, the river bottom was still it's usual slimy, slippery self though. The first stretch of fast water I fished with the #1 Aglia Furia was the one that's given up several rainbows, today it didn't give a yelp, not a single touch from a trout.
Fine sunny weather, hardly a breeze and lower river levels gave me the opportunity to head to the upper reaches of the Mersey River at Weegena for a couple of hours of spin fishing. On my arrival (11:05 am) I found it was running a little higher than I thought it would be, good thing was it was still at a safe wading height. The water was a nice light/medium tannin colour and the water temp was sitting on 4-5 degrees which was much better than the two degrees on my last trip here. My main concern was if the trout were here and are they here in good numbers yet, or is it going to be one of those fish-less days that happens more often than not early in the season.
With the weather still being unstable and more rain forecast as the days goes on I thought it worthwhile to head to the Dasher River on private property close to home. Once there I could see the river was on the rise and running a little on the cloudy side, not enough to put me off fishing it though. After a twenty minute walk to my entry point I was soon in the river (11:15am) flicking a small #00 gold Aglia around. The water temp like the air was very low and cold, today I did wear a waterproof jacket which helped to keep my upper body warm. As I slowly made my way upstream I found the river bottom was pretty slippery and there was quite a lot of green cotton like algae covering them.
With fine weather this morning with rain forecast for later this afternoon I thought I would get a spin session in before the rain arrived. This trip was to the upper Mersey River, an area on private property and one I haven't fished for a couple of months. The reason I haven't fished here all that often this trout season is because it's a rough & tough area to get into, plus the river itself has to be one of the toughest stretches of water to fish. The rocky river bottom is always covered in a brown slime and so slippery under foot at times it's near impossible to stay upright, not only that the rocks roll underfoot. Another problem here is the water weed growth that has spread along the river making spin fishing near in possible in most stretches of water. Another reason I headed here was that I wanted to give the tannin waters a rest as well as a change of scenery, another reason for heading to the upper Mersey. It was close to 9:20 am when I arrived & parked the car on a narrow bush track on private property, then after a lot bush bashing followed by a long walk I was at the river by around 10:00am. The river was running a little higher than I had expected and still at a safe wading depth, the water was a light tannin colour, the river bottom was it's normal poor condition as I stated earlier.
Seeing as it's been around ten or eleven weeks since I've fished the upper Mersey River I thought today would be the ideal day to do it with light winds & overcast conditions forecast. Getting to the river where I'll be fishing is one that's as tough as it can get, it requires bushing bashing though dense scrub and steep hills. It's also an area than runs hot and cold with the trout fishing too, they're either on in big numbers or they're few and far between. I'm hoping it's going to be a day when the trout are out and about and full of aggression, I'm not fussed about the size as long as they are in big numbers over the one and a half kilometres of river I'll be fishing.
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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.
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Presented from Issue 105, August 2013
Christopher Bassano fishes over 250 days a year. This interview was recorded just before he headed off to fish for Australia in the World Fly Fishing Championships in Norway 14-17 August 2013.
I live on a small stream and at the start of the season I like to go off on a bit of a discovery mission and fish the headwaters of the creeks and rivers I feel an affinity with.
These small rivers include the St Pats, Meander, Forester, Little Forester and others. The further up you go on these rivers the clearer and lower the levels. They are often less affected by the rain and runoff and you get some good opportunities. Get as close to the source as you can and you will find some good dry fly fishing. Don’t limit yourself to those I have mentioned. Most headwaters will hold trout.Read more ...