107 tarraleah troutPresented from Issue 107, December 2013
Located in the southern Central Highlands is the township of Tarraleah — an ex Hydro village, built in the 1930s and located around one and half hours from Hobart and 50 minutes drive from the Great Lake via the Marlborough Highway. Tarraleah is a great place for fishing with a number of waterways all connected by canals. They hold excellent stocks of trout and its unique in the fact that only trout inhabit these waters as far as I know, with no eels or redfin perch present. It is suitable for all types of angling and a wonderful option if wanting to either explore some new water, or if the weather is rough on the Great Lake side of the hill.

Generally speaking better settled weather can be found lower down and I invite you to take the journey with me and explore what the local rivers and lakes around Tarraleah can offer - you may be surprised.

There is great accommodation in the area and good camping for those inclined.

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107 tarraleah map


Nive River

The Nive River is located at the bottom of Tarraleah hill. There’s been some great fish caught here and many others sighted. Hydro workers see some big trout during shutdown periods. It has the potential to surprise and is well worth a visit.

107 tarraleah nive1 
 107 tarraleah nive2
 The Nive River has some great opportunities
and beautiful runs to fish

The river flows from the foothills of Bronte near Laughing Jack Lagoon and flows through to Lake Liapootah. On this river there are two power stations within a half a kilometre section of each other. Tarraleah and Tungatinah power stations are fed down the large pipelines from Tungatinah Lagoon and from the ponds just outside the village of Tarraleah through the turbines. As with most power stations the outflows of these areas are places to target big fish as the turbines mince up fish and create a classic big fish feeding area. 

The Nive River has always produced big fish from the early Hydro days right up to present day and trout in excess of 20 pounds have been taken in this water. Browns dominate, however the odd rainbow and Atlantic salmon have been captured from time to time the average size of the fish in this river is excellent with most fish averaging 700 grams or better. 

Early and late in the season some very big fish are captured. These big fish are either residents or have come up to spawn from Lake Liapootah. Downstream access to the Nive River is tight and some scrub bashing will be necessary on your part to get to some of the best spots. The river can be accessed easily via the highway bridge up and downstream and about one kilometre downstream at what is known as Regatta Point. 

Access to here is through a dirt road on the Tungatinah side of the bridge that crosses the Nive River. Follow the gravel road along to the yellow boom gate and turn right. There is scope to camp here also which makes those overnight missions more pleasurable. 

Fishing the river

The Nive River can be fished with bait, lure and fly local knowledge should be sought before attempting this however as the river can rise with little warning even in summer time when low levels occur.


The best baits being worms and wattle grubs fished in the slower backwaters and deeper pools using either a running sinker rig or fishing on top of the surface most big fish are caught in the Nive early and late in the season on big baits after dark. 

Lures to use on the river are: Rapala CD-5 and CD-7 in Spotted Dog, Rainbow Trout and Golden Alburnus, Hawk Sniper in black and gold, large Celtas in green and gold and red and gold will work well in the faster runs as well as Ashley Spinners in green and gold. The important thing is to get the lure down to where the fish are; work the side of the banks – especially in and around the snags, rocks and riffles.

Extreme care should be taken when wading this river as it can rise without notice and can often be deeper than it appears due to water clarity. Another great way to fish this river, is in summer when levels are low, using a Fish Cake after dark. Find a slow flowing pool; cast and slowly retrieve this deadly surface lure on top. It can produce explosive takes from big fish.

Soft plastic fishing deep and slow is a great technique. A 1/6, 1/4 and 3/8 ounce jig heads will get your lure down to ‘the zone’. If you are loosing jig heads that’s a good thing as your plastic is on the bottom or in snags and that’s where the fish will be. Leader material should be on the heavier side and I suggest eight to twelve pound fluorocarbon. You never know what will come along. Colours in plastics include the classic Black and Gold, Olive/pearl T tail, Pumpkinseed and Turtleback worms will all work well.

Fly fishing the river is best done when water levels are low in summer. There are mild hatches of caddis and midge on warm summer evenings. When this occurs fish will rise freely and take most nondescript dry flies and emerger patterns. If nothing is showing running a large gold tungsten bead headed pheasant tail nymph or a large weighted olive or black woolly bugger through the riffles with an indicator will produce results. When the water is low the fish can be polarioded in the shallows and along the banks and in the shallow riffles. 

107 tarraleah pond 1Number 1 Pond

On top of the hill just before you reach the Tarraleah turnoff from the south is a small dam known as Number 1 pond. Two canals run into this pond, one from Lake King William the other from the Pump Pond. This pond is a great little fishery and gives up some nice conditioned browns and a few rainbows.

Fishing the Number 1 pond

Good access is available around the pond. Fishing where the canals run in with a small running sinker rig with either a wattle grub or bunch of worms will work well.

Lures to use in the pond CD-5 Rapala in Brook Trout and Brown Trout will work well, Tassie Devils in green and gold and Hawk Sniper in black and gold will work well I like to cast along the edges of the pond and across the currents where the canals run in

Soft plastics fishing in the pond with a heavy 3/8 jig head and using the current to your advantage you can add action swinging plastics across the current. Work them back with a simple twitching method. On the slower eastern side you can probably use a lighter head worked along the bottom just above the weed beds. I like to use the Black and gold T-tail and

107 tarraleah canalBronze/pearl T-tail.

Fly fishing in the pond is best done on warm summer evenings when fish will rise to caddis and midge. I find using a size 12 Red Tag, an Elk Hair Caddis or Black Spinner Parachute will all work well. I enjoy fishing after dark for fish casting the fly out to rising fish, waiting to hear a take, then lift if you think it was in the general vicinity of your fly. You will hook up or not, but regardless, it’s an exciting method and some of the bigger fish will come out after dark. Most years the hydro drop the level of the pond for canal maintenance and when this happens the pond becomes shallow and polaroiding can be very good.

The canals that run into this pond should not be overlooked. Many locals, including myself have polaroided some very large fish against the sides of the canal. Fooling them can be a different story and great caution should be exercised if fishing this area. It’s deep and fast water.

Pump Pond

Directly opposite Number 1 pond is the Pump Pond. Following the canal upstream of the locked boom gate for a 500 metre walk you will arrive on the dam wall. This pond it has many exposed tree stumps out in the middle and along the edges, but it is full of fat little brown trout and it is here you can expect big catches of small, but well conditioned trout. Average size is on the smaller side around 250 grams but the odd fish upwards of 4 pounds are captured here. The lack of size is easily excusable with the sheer numbers making it a fun fishery. On the north side of the Pump Pond there is an excellent grassy shore well suited to camping if an overnight trip is in order.

Fishing the Pump Pond

The dam wall is the pond’s deepest area and bait fishing from here with a running sinker rig and small bunch of worms or a wattle grub will work well if the wind is favourable. Fishing mudeyes from the dam wall will also produce many fish. All of the pond can be bait fished and unweighted baits along both sides will also work well especially after dark and in low light.

Spin fishing in the pump will produce many fat little trout working along the dam wall and bottom half of the northern side. Hawk Snipers in black and gold, Rapala CD5 in rainbow and brown trout patterns will work well in rough conditions. The fish will really come on the chew in the shallow water up the top end where the outflow canal from Mossy Marsh comes in. Use a small Celta in green and black, or a small devon type spinner. On the southern side it’s shallow and more suited to bait and fly fishing.

Light gear is essential if soft plastic fishing on the Pond. Work the dam wall end with black and gold and olive/pearl T-tails with light jigheads.

107 tarraleah wadingFly fishing is great fun and the way to catch rising fish on warm summer evenings. The fish are usually taking caddis, midge, gum beetle or black spinner and although not easy to fool at times, first and last light is usually the best. You will find many tailing fish in the Pond and I find using a size 14 or 16 black or chocolate brown parachute emerger pattern very effective. Whether chasing risers or tailing fish, do not too get hung up on just one fish. If they keep refusing, move on and try another fish. Woolly buggers and zonker type flies will produce plenty of fish, and it’s a great place to learn to fly fish or just to go and have some fun.

Mossy Marsh Pond

As you leave Tarraleah following the Butlers Gorge road a short 10 minute drive will see you arrive at Mossy Marsh Pond there are two access points one of which a 10 to 15 minute walk will be required as there is a locked gate. Following the road down to the canal will lead you to a footbridge in which you can cross the outflow canal and gain access to the eastern side of the pond. The other access point is a couple of minutes further along Butlers Gorge Road you will see a sign saying Mossy Marsh Pond on the right hand side. Take this road and it will lead you to a yellow boom gate which is generally open. If closed a walk around 600 metres will have you at the Mossy Marsh Dam wall..

Fishing the pond

Mossy marsh is a good water suited to all types of angling. Access is tight and there is a lot of dead standing timber and fallen logs through the pond. It is snaggy, but that gives the trout lots of cover. A small kayak or car topper boat is a great way to get about in good weather, but by no means a must.

There is plenty space near the dam wall to camp. It is a lovely location to get away for a few days or a good base to come and go from while fishing the other waters around Tarraleah. The hot spots are along the dam wall the northern end, and the inflow where the canal runs into the pond.

Bait fishing the pond is best done on the western side of the pond along the dam wall and in the first bay along the northern side. Due to the amount of snags an unweighted bunch of worms or wattle grub is best, cast into the deeper water. Fishing mudeyes under a float is also a fantatsic way to catch trout in this pond. I prefer a slightly heavier outfit for baitfishing here with six to ten pound line outfit giving you the advantage in the snags 

Lure fishing in this pond is best done when levels are high. Work the more shallow running lures like Ashley spinners and Celtas in green and gold and floating F5 rapalas in brown trout and brook trout. Target in and around the snags. I prefer late afternoons here for spinning or anytime of day when the weather is rough .

Soft plastic fishing the pond is best done off the dam wall with a light jighead and a black and gold T-tail or Olive/pearl T-tail. Working in and around the timber with a kayak or car topper style boat another great spot is the inflow where the canal runs in Fly fishing the pond is my prefered method. Good hatches to black spinner, duns, midge and gum beetle with the odd jassid hatch later in the season.

On warm evenings and at first light the pond will come alive with rising trout. Up until Christmas the fish will be chasing frogs about in the more marshy areas. Blind wet fly fishing with a small rabbit syle zonker fly or woolly bugger will catch fish. On the risers and tailers I find fishing a small parachute spinner in black or brown works rather well some days. Tailing fish can often go on go pretty well all day moving in and out of the weeds and shallows. If they won’t look at the dry I find using a small scud with a flash of orange in it or a small green or claret nymph will do the trick.

The fish in here aren’t huge by any means, but fish up to 2 kg are taken. They are usually fat solid fish and the majority being browns with the odd rainbow caught. The IFS have had past stocking programs in this water of adult fish making it more attractive to visit.

There’s some great fishing to be had with all the waters around Tarraleah. They are worth spending the time and fishing them — you may just be surprised.

Daniel Pursell

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