Presented from Issue 94
Lake Plimsoll is a “brook trout only fishery” located near the heart of our rugged West Coast. It is also water that many of Tasmania’s angling fraternity would have heard about, but seemingly only a small minority have ever taken up the challenge to explore at any great length.
Is it a wasted effort or is it just a very well kept secret by those in the know? Todd Lambert, along with two of his mates, Dale Howard and son Trevor, spent some time there recently and in this article, he attempts to shed some light on this fantastic fishery that seemingly “ flies under the radar” to so many of us.
Refer to the Fishing Code for current regulations
How to get there
Situated roughly between Tullah and Rosebery, Lake Plimsoll can be accessed via an alternative road that heads to Queenstown called the Anthony Road (Route B28). Signage along this road is excellent and so you shouldn’t have any trouble locating Lake Plimsoll once you are in this area.
Lake Plimsoll The Lake itself is probably similar in size to that of Lake Leake; it mainly consists of steep rocky shorelines with the remainder being that of a swamped button grass plain.
Its water is tannin stained (like all the lakes in this region) but it would still lend itself to polarising given the right conditions, especially at the southern end of the Lake where it is quite shallow.
The surrounding landscape is very exposed and can go from being “picture postcard perfect” one minute to “an Antarctic blizzard” the next. It is also quite common to feel the whole gamut of weather conditions in any one day, as was witnessed by us at our recent outing here.
Lake Plimsoll is one of only a few Tasmanian waterways that contain exclusive populations of brook trout, the others being Lake Rolleston, Lake Selina (which are situated nearby) and Clarence Lagoon.
One of the reasons brook trout survive here is that they prefer the colder temperatures and like to feed when the water is 10 degrees or less, they also find it hard to compete against the brown and rainbow trout. Plimsoll along with the “select fisheries” just mentioned are ideal environments for them in as much as they have the best of both worlds with the cooler climate and little, if any, competition for food. There is also a large population of galaxids that thrive here and they seem to be the mainstay of the brook trout’s diet along with frogs and mudeyes.
Formed in 1993, Plimsoll receives stockings on a bi-annual basis and although spawning is said to occur here, it is reliant on both domestic and wild domestic diploid stock to sustain its recruitment. Brook trout facts and methods
Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are not actually a trout; they are a species of char originating from the east coast of Northern America. They were first introduced into Tasmanian waters in May 1883 and were placed throughout our various lake and river systems. Lake Leake in the north of Tasmania was the first location to successfully maintain stocks of brook trout but the introduction of rainbow trout into this water as well, saw the decline of this unique species.
The daily bag limit for Plimsoll is 5 fish per day with a minimum size of 220 mm, but due to the delicate nature of this water, catch and release is encouraged.
All methods, bait, lure and fly are permitted here. Brook trout love deep water and the “Plimsoll locals” tend to school near the rocky shores that are found close to any inflow, in fact any deep looking hole is worth a cast or two.
We have found they feed in two modes, “on or off” and there is no in-between.
If you are lucky enough to be present when brookies are on, catching your bag is a mere formality, on other occasions, you could fish all day without even a seeing a trace of a fish and one could be forgiven for thinking there were none in the lake!
The word “persistence” is one that brook trout anglers need to know and understand very well in order to achieve consistent success.
On our most recent visit here, and when cleaning a couple of Plimsoll brooks, we found they all had at least one large Galaxid in their stomach contents. As these baitfish are so large, it is unlikely they would seek any more food until it was all digested, how long that takes, I wouldn’t know, but it would explain their on and off again feeding patterns. It would also explain why they take a soft plastic so hard and with very little warning; as the jig head is often the only thing you will see sticking out of their mouths, such is the aggression of the strike.
When hooking one of these fish, you may think you have hooked a snag until feeling that familiar throb of a fish on the end of the line; they are not a strong fighting fish by nature and tend to come to the net quite easily. . Situated between Tullah and Rosebery, Lake Plimsoll is accessed via the Anthony Road (Route B28)
As fly fishermen and fly tiers, we continually search for the best fly for the particular situation, sometimes we find one that works and other times it doesn’t; for brook trout, I don’t think it matters, however, they do seem to love yellow and orange, so as long as you incorporate that in your fly or lure, you’re in with as good a chance as any for a hook up.
Fish with an intermediate fly line, vary your retrieves and bring a healthy dose of perseverance with you. Although not witnessing it myself, I am told by the locals that in the warmer months, there are, at times, healthy rises to terrestrials such as mudeyes and beetles, so dry fly fishing is a possibility.
Although not orange or yellow in colour, the Purple Ghost” and “Translucent Moss” from The Yep lures 5 1/2 inch series will catch brook trout as they tick all the boxes in regard to matching the hatch. These plastics replicate the size of the local Galaxiad extremely well.
Other plastics that will bring you success are the Yep Red Rascal and the Squidgy 60mm Neon Silvertail. The big advantage with fishing plastics is that you can adjust your depth with a simple jig head weight change and need not bother about “ sink rates” as you would using your fly lines. The same applies for soft plastics as it does for fly fishing, use bright colours. Your basic 4 pound braid and six pound leader set up is all that is needed.
Fish in close to the banks, outside any inflows and along the dam wall area. If you catch one, work the area extensively, as they seem to school together and you will more than likely catch others in a very short timeframe. If you see any cormorants on the water, head straight over to them and fish that area, (this worked well for us on our last visit). To finish, here is probably the most important tip, persevere and never give up, as with brook trout, your luck can change dramatically in a matter of minutes. The reward for persistence will be one of the most beautiful fish you have ever seen. Lake Plimsoll, a truly magnificent and underrated fishery, why not give it a go? Todd Lambert