Brook Trout Lake Plimsoll
The mysterious brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) provides extra variety for those Tassie anglers looking for that different experience. I say mysterious because there doesn't seem to be much known about the habits of these fish here in Tasmania. Only that they are challenging and they have the occasional feeding frenzy. This is definitely true but over the 18 years or so that I have been chasing them, I haven't learned a whole lot more.
Their feeding habits are a lot different to browns and rainbow trout. Maybe this is because they aren't actually a true trout but a species of char, originating from North America. The only reason brooks are said to be challenging is because they don't appear to feed very often, but when they do, they feed hard. They are aggressive and will eat just about any lure, fly or bait you throw at them. If you see a fish moving or rise, chances are you will catch it. That can't always be said with other trout.
When brooks are "shut down" there won't be any sign of a fish anywhere and you will swear there is no fish in the lake! My theory is that they gorge themselves for a day or two, then lay on the bottom somewhere until they are hungry again. This would explain the awesome condition these fish are always in. There is no such thing as a "slabby" brook trout that's for sure! The beefy brooks aren't highly regarded as prize fighters. Although they don't get airborne like rainbows or browns, they are hard to turn and don't give in easily.
When my first brook came to the net, I was just amazed by the condition and striking colours. I think they are the best looking of all the salmonids. The first and only time I have witnessed a feeding frenzy was my first trip to Clarence Lagoon many years ago. Seven of us camped for the weekend and caught 30 something fish, averaging 3½ lb. with two or three around 6 lb. Most fish were caught using wood grubs cast to rising fish with a few on wonder wobblers and the Fly. If you're heading to Clarence, it has more recently been made an Artificial Lures Only water.
After that trip I thought "these brook trout are easy" but since then I have only ever taken one or two fish in a day. What switches these fish on and off? Who knows! I've fished for them on the different moon cycles and barometric pressures at different times of year and the only thing I can say for sure is that they seem to be more active in the cooler months from Aug-Oct.
Lake Plimsoll on the West Coast is another brook trout only water and is closer to home for me at about an hour and twenty minutes from Burnie. Plimsoll is best accessed by boat but there are a few good banks for the shore fisher as well. The lake is typical of the West Coast system with deep tannin stained water with depths of 30 metres plus. Much of the Northern end is almost too deep to fish and it is much easier to locate fish in 5 metres or less.
The 6 lb. specimen pictured was taken on a 65 mm Neon Squidgey in 3 metres of water near the small man-made canal flowing into the lake at the Southern end. It was the only fish for the day but as you can see from the pictures, it was almost too nice a day. Days like that, catching a beautiful fish is just a bonus.
Galaxia are the main diet of the Plimsoll brooks. They seem to congregate around any inflows so they are the most obvious places to try. Soft Plastics are my first weapons of choice. They imitate the galaxia better than conventional lures but as I said, when they are on, they are not fussy. Colours don't seem to matter, although brighter is probably better in the dark coloured water.
Bait fisherman would be best served by a big wood or wattle grub suspended a metre or so under a float. If the fish in Lake Plimsoll don't cooperate there are other options close by in Lake Selina and Rolleston.
Selina is a small natural lake on the western side of Plimsoll and can be seen from the highway. A short 5 minute walk will see you there. Waders are an advantage as it is fairly shallow and reedy. Lake Rolleston is for the keener angler and I'm told it's about a 45 minute walk South East of Plimsoll. All three lakes are stocked regularly by the IFS. Like all of Tassie's Highlands, the weather can turn very bleak very quick so pack warm and waterproof and fish with a mate whenever possible. So if you're up for a challenge, have a crack at a brook trout. Remember, don't be discouraged if you don't bag one first trip. You never know, you just might strike a feeding frenzy next time!