Ada Lagoon - early season

Gavin Hicks

After the birth of our second child in early September last year the opportunity arose for me to have a few days in the Central Highlands pursuing my love of fly fishing. Based at the inlaws shack at Miena the opportunities are endless, the hardest decision to make being where to go. I heard the gate was open to the 19 Lagoons area and after doing some weather checks I decided to give Ada lagoon a try.

Ada lagoon is accessed via a short 20 minute walk from the Lake Ada carpark along an old four wheel drive track which is shut off in inclement weather with a boom gate. If the boom gate is open as I have found it to be during the past couple of seasons you can drive to the shore of the lagoon and beyond if your vehicle allows it, though I prefer to walk as you never know what you might see along the shore of Lake Ada.
I arrived at the carpark in what would best be described as poor weather conditions (so much for the weather check). The wind was blowing fairly well out of the north-east and there was heavy but broken cloud cover. With waders on and a new fly on the end of my 9 foot tapered leader it was only a matter of piecing together the rod and heading off on the 20 min walk to the lagoon.
About halfway the track branches into two and you can either go along the shore of Lake Ada to the bridge that crosses the canal between the two bodies of water or you can go left and follow the track that takes you to the bridge that crosses the out flow of Ada lagoon.
For me Ada Lagoon has two distinct features which attract me there early in the season, they are the undercut banks that run along the back shore and the marshes on the same shore that fill given the right amount of water. Upon arrival at the bridge across the canal I was a touch disappointed to find the water level not quite high enough to have all the little marshes full as I have had some brilliant fishing there to frog feeders in the past. But knowing that there is a marsh about halfway up the shore that is connected to the lagoon via a deep channel I was still excited by the thought of what might be swimming in there and along the undercut banks waiting for an easy meal.
I crossed the bridge and headed up the edge of the canal to the shore of the lake . The first part of the shore till you get along to a little outcrop of rocks has never given up a fish for me so I was not really taking to much notice and guess what , out of the corner of my eye I noticed a shadow heading for the centre of the lagoon at a rate of knots followed by a cloud of silt. After the usual slow down Gav you idiot and watch what is going on it was back to the task at hand. At least I knew now that there might be some fish about.
Another 50 metres or so and I spotted a fish laying on the bottom just a metre or so from the bank. At least he hadn't seen me so I put the fly out to him as best I could in the wind and he also headed for the middle. Two more fish were spotted that both showed some interest and followed but turned away from the fly. With polaroiding chances limited due to the cloud I knew I had better find the right fly or I might soon run out of chances , so it was off with the big frog pattern and on with a small brown woolly worm (more by luck than good judgement!).
The next fish I saw I landed the fly just to the side of it and let it sink. No reaction from the fish so I gave it a short strip and immediately it turned on the fly. The white flash of the fishes mouth told me it was time to set the hook. What followed was a short but determined fight with the fish trying to swim underneath the undercut banks at my feet putting a nice bend in my 5 wt Loomis fly rod. Finally I slid the net under a nice brown of 2.5 pound.
Two more fish fell in very similar fashion in the next hour or so before the cloud finally beat the sun into retreat. I continued on up the back shore to the top corner with no luck so I decided to head back down to the marsh that was about half full and sit on it for a while. After watching for a while with no result I decided to put a cast out in front of the channel into the marsh and see if anything swam by.
By this stage my father in-law who was spinning the opposite bank had nearly ran out of water to fish so I decided to wind in and wait for him. Imagine my surprise when I went to wind in and a fish was firmly attached to the end of my line. It was nice way to finish off a good day with a total of 4 trout between 2 and 3 pounds.
Upon cleaning a couple of the fish for the table it was discovered that they were full of stick caddis with a few snails scattered amongst them.
Back at the shack on baby sitting duties for the next couple of days and the thought of those fish out there swimming around the edges was just too much for me to handle. So before long it was back out there for another crack at them. This time conditions were no good at all for polaroiding so it was a day for searching. I knew the fish would still be there so with the same Woolly Worm on again I searched the whole back shore only casting close to and along the bank with the odd cast out into the middle for a couple of hours in fairly testing conditions for no result.
When I arrived at the top end I decided for a change of tactics and I put on a size 12 scintilla stick caddis pattern underneath a big dry fly and knowing that the fish had all been close to the bank the plan was to just drift it down the shore about a metre or so from the bank and let the wave action work for me by moving the stick caddis around beneath the surface.
When fishing this way and using a dry fly as an indicator I like to use something like a deer hair Red Tag that I know will float all day and I generally run 6 pound tippet to the dry and then tie the dropper off the bend of the hook using 4 pound tippet. That way if the dropper gets snagged I am still a chance of getting my dry back and not losing the whole set up.
I was nearly back to the end of my run and thinking it was all a bad idea when my dry was pulled under. I lifted the rod into a solid weight and slowly I began to lose line. By the time my line and about twenty metres of backing had left the reel I was beginning to think I had hooked the platypus that had followed me down the bank. Finally I got the line back on the reel and the fish into the bank and I realised that it looked to be a good fish with the stick caddis only just stuck in the top of its mouth. My loyal fishing companion Ross the German shorthair pointer must have noticed this too because he decided to get in and try to land the fish for me. Believe me when I say that this done nothing in the way of settling the fish but finally I managed to net a cracking hen fish of just under 5 pounds. It was a brilliant way to end a few magic days in the Highlands.
There are plenty of marshy, undercut areas in the nineteen lagoons that I am sure are probably better and more productive than the ones at Ada Lagoon but for me it is a favourite spot that keeps drawing me back at the start of each season. Whatever body of water you choose to cast a fly into, fish it hard and with 100% confidence and good luck to you.
Gavin Hicks

Colour selection for lures
Many of our lakes contain an abundant supply of galaxiids that are a large component in the diet of the trout and salmon stocked in these lakes. But even though many anglers attempt to "match the hatch" by using colours or finishes on lures to match the existing forage or baitfish this often is not successful. Matching the hatch in this instance probably has more to do with size and shape of a presentation than colour. Lure colour selection should be based on what our target species is likely to see at a particular depth. I would suggest that colour choices should be based on a combination of water clarity, light conditions and water temperature.
Choosing lure colours for effective trolling can be a fairly confusing task if you rely on the information on lure packages, fashion, or anecdotal info from our fishing mates. Let's face it, we've all heard the saying that lure colours and finishes are designed to catch fishermen not fish. Whether it's a marketing technique to sell lures or a genuine attempt to create finishes and colours that actually do work to catch fish, colour is an important part of lure selection. There has been a wealth of scientific information published to support the notion that fish do discern between colours. Not being a scientist much of this information has probably been wasted on me, with perhaps two major exceptions. Paul Johnson's book "the Scientific Angler" and Dr Colin Kageyama's book "What Fish See" are both loaded with information and the later especially written for anglers in a clear easy to understand style.
Much of the information that we get from advertising, the media and writers is not always as clear and accurate as it should be when it comes to the description of colours and finishes. Terms and descriptions like "bright", glow in the dark" "Fluorescent" etc, all get tossed around with little or no understanding of what they really mean. I would suggest that when we choose colours for lures (or flies for that matter) most anglers are thinking in terms of what colour a lure is in air, not what colour it will be in the water at a given depth. What we really need to consider and understand is what happens to our lure colours under the water. The fact box gives a few working definitions for some common descriptions when talking about colour.
According to most optometrists objects in air do not catch your attention based on colour, most catch your attention because of brightness or movement. In the air light comes from certain directions either from artificial sources or sunlight and its direction is easy to determine because it casts a shadow. Water is however, very different, once you are more than 1-2 m under water the water appears to glow and light seems to come from all directions. As light travels through water it is reflected and scattered. The more dust and material suspended in the water, the more the light is scattered. When a fish (or human diver) looks at distance through water the scattered light takes on a uniform glow. You can check out this phenomenon yourself in your swimming pool, river or lake.
For trolling anglers, (and most other forms of fishing), long distance colour shifts can play a big part in your success or failure. Trolling usually means that your lure is passing by a fish fairly quickly with little or no chance for making repetitive presentations. In this instance fish are usually striking out of hunger and/or reflective action. A fish's ability to hear and see a prospective meal is an important part of foraging and survival. Let's assume that in clear green water a fish is able to see your lure from 7m away, it makes the choice to go for your lure and charges the lure. At 1m away from the lure this fish puts on the brakes and shies away form your presentation. Why? The lure you were trolling was bright red, but at a distance of 7 m the lure appeared black. The colour shift from black to red was probably unlike anything the fish had ever experienced in nature. If the lure had maintained its colour over the entire distance it's a good bet that this fish would have taken the lure.
Colour shifts occur as water filters out different wavelengths of light depending on the colour of water and the type of suspended material in the water. Clear blue, green and brown water all filter out light in different ways. As light passes deeper in each of these water types both short and long wavelength light waves are filtered out. Light penetrating in deep water becomes monochromatic or one coloured. In other words the light penetrating deep blue water becomes blue, deep green water becomes green light etc. When light penetrates deep water and becomes one coloured, the only lure colours which will remain bright are those that either match the water colour, are white or are fluorescent colours of a longer wave length. All other colours will turn a nondescript dark colour.
For anglers of all methods, the range of colours and finishes we have to choose from is amazing. Colour and subsequent visibility are crucial to all successful lure fishing. These factors have a big influence in attracting fish to your presentation, but they alone are not the only reason a fish will attack a lure. Factors like a lure's action, speed, water clarity and temperature also have an impact on a lure's success. We may never know conclusively which one of these factors is the most important in a fish's selection process for its next meal. In the meantime, I for one will continue to treat all of these factors as vital to my lure fishing success.
Fact Box
Developing an understanding of how the colour of artificial lures change underwater can help us all become more successful anglers. To improve our knowledge of colour a few basic definitions are helpful, such as:
- Light: a type of radiation that can be detected by eyes. Light travels in "waves" of different length. Short wavelength light includes ultraviolet, purple and blue. Medium wavelength light includes green, chartreuse, and yellow. Long wave length light includes orange and red..
- Fluorescence: Is the ability of an object to reflect light of a longer wavelength than it received
- Brightness: Is the ability of an object to reflect a large amount of light.
- Phosphorescence: material that continues to shine in the dark after exposure to light; "glow in the dark".
- White Light: is a light that is a combination of all visible colours. This type of light includes radiation from a variety of different wavelengths or colours. In order for light to appear white, it must include blue, green, yellow, orange and red components.
- Colour shift: the phenomenon of objects apparently changing colour under water due to the light filtering nature of water


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