2013-14  TROUT  SEASON   REPORT by Adrian Webb

  Well the 2013-14 season is now over and a new one will be back soon enough, but I don't mind the three month break as it will give me time to get the body right for the 2014-15 season. I may make a couple trips to Loongana and give the Leven River a spin session as it is still open above the Loongana Bridge up until midnight 1st June 2014. We'll just wait and see for now.
    The season for me has been another average one and also an enjoyable time as well even though I  feel my catch rate could have been much better than how it finished. The reason I say that is because I lost probably another third of my catch from trout throwing the lures. I know that this is all a part of trout fishing or any type of fishing, but it still annoys me.
    During the 2013-14 season Tasmania experienced some of the windiest weather for many years and this kept many trout fishers including myself at home on several occasions throughout the season. Those that went out in it, well they deserved to every fish that they caught. So for the whole of the 2013-14 Trout Season I did manage to get 65 trips to the Mersey, Meander,Dasher and Leven rivers and two trips to Western Creek.
.   ** The following rivers were fished from 5th August to 4th December (Form 1) are taken from my Ulverstone Anglers Club Members forms and my diary.
    "'The Mersey River'':  In 8 trips I caught 12 brown and 3 rainbow trout. The fishing was fairly average and the best fish taken was at Weegena and tipped the scales at 1.3kgs. This brown was caught on worms on the 8/8/13 in which time the Mersey was running very high and dirty. Three of the eight trips were all bait fishing and the rest were spin sessions. The trout that were caught were all in excellent condition and very solid fish. I areas fished were Merseylea, Kimberley and Weegena during this time. (ave. 1.86 fish)
    "'Western Creek'':  I only did the two trips here and these  were during August when I went to fish the Meander River only to find that it was flowing to high and fast for wading  and I called in here on the way home. I did catch two well conditioned browns (one each trip) with the best fish going 720gms. (ave. 1 fish)
    "'Meander River'':  It wasn't until the 22nd October before I finally manage to be able to have a spin session in this great river. The first few trips here during October and November the fishing was well below par and I wasn't very impressed on how many trout were in the areas that I fished. These stretches of river that normally fished reasonably well were practically fishless as I only caught 7 browns in three trips here. I didn't return to the Meander until the 3rd of December and again on the 4th December. I had heard that there had been a stocking of rainbow trout in the river for the National Fly Fishing Championships and so I went there a couple of days after the Championship had finished. In the two days that I fished two different sections I picked up 11 brown and 23 rainbow trout. The rainbows were averaging 550gms and all fish were in top condition. It will be much better when the rainbows start to spread themselves further up and down the length of the river as they are still moving around in small schools. I caught nine without having to move from my spot in the river. I did move on as it was just to easy catching them like this. (ave. 8.2 fish)
    "'Dasher River'':  This little river is very close to home and is what I call my practise river as it keeps me up to scratch with casting in tight places and hones the skills for better fishing. This river has struggled over the past few season due to the lack of good rainfall and drier Summers. I normally only fish it early and late season when the river has a medium height to it. Three trips here on private property gave up 49 solid rivers browns with the best fish close on 450 gms, which is well above the average size of 270gms that's normally taken. (ave. 16.3 fish)
  In a total of 18 trips from 5/8 to 4/12/13 to the above rivers the total catch was 107 trout made up of 81 brown and  26 rainbow trout.  ( over all ave. 5.94 fish)
    **  Well from the 6th December to 30th January (Form 2) there were only the two rivers that I concentrated my trout fishing on and these were the Meander and Mersey Rivers. These rivers were my main rivers  for fishing as they have a regulated flow of water coming down them right through out the year and during Summer these are the ones  to stick with.
    "'Meander River'':  Well the trout fishing really picked up in a big way in the 8 trips that I made here
during the above dates. The river level was at an ideal height on every trip and it was running clear and cool. The fishing was excellent during the time spent here even though the browns were plentiful there were a lot of small fish amongst the total  63 of them that I caught. The best brown going at 820gms and the smallest being 260gms. These fish were all in great condition too and it was good to see them so plentiful once again as this river had suffered heavily from the influx of cormorants over past few seasons. It has really made a quick recovery which is good to see. There were still quite a few of the released rainbows about too and it was good to see that they had spread themselves out over several kilometres of river now. I still managed to catch 25 of them over the eight trips here and they were all in the 500 to 600+ range and full of fight. (ave. 11 fish)
   ''Mersey River'':  The Mersey fished a lot different to the Meander and even though it gave up a reasonable amount of trout it was well below how I thought it would fish. The river even though it was running very clear, the level was low and the rocky river bottom was just so slippery it really took it's toll on my body. This river has to be one of the toughest to fish in the Central North I reckon. There's hardly a rock that isn't covered in a film of slime and with them being all shapes and sizes it's a battle to stay upright in when fishing it. After working this river for three to five hours a session, well you know you've deserved every fish caught that's for sure. I had 4 trips to Merseylea, 2 trips to Kimberley and 1 to Weegena for a total of 29 brown and 5 rainbow trout caught. (ave.4.86 fish))
    In the 15 trips to these two rivers gave me a combined total of 122 trout made up of 92 brown and 30 rainbow trout.  (over all ave. 8.13 fish)    
  ** From 4th February to 31st March (Form 3)  I once again mainly kept to the Meander and Mersey Rivers but did manage to slip in two trips to the Leven River in The Gunns Plains area.
     ''Meander River'':  During February through to the end of March I only had the five trips here and this was mainly due to much higher temperatures, clear skies, crystal clear & low water level in the river. The 7th of February was the best day that I had out of the five trips here when I caught and released 14 brown and 1 rainbow trout. The majority of fish were in the medium range of around 400gms, but the reward on this trip was the 2.9kg brown that I caught on the little 1.5 gm Mepps Black Fury spinner. This was a person best for me in the Meander River with my previous best being 1.3kgs. It was probably one of the most tense times that I have had in a river since I hooked and landed a 2.5kg brown trout in the Mersey River some 10years ago. This 2.9kg was now the biggest brown that I have caught in any of the rivers that I fish here in the Central North of Tasmania. The other four trips were well spread out after this trip with the last trip here on the 31st March. In the five trips here during the two months I caught 29 brown and just the I rainbow trout.
It now looked like the stocked rainbows had really moved on now.    (ave. 6.00 fish)
    "'Leven River'':  Well I don't have much at all to say about the Leven River only to say that it was very low on fish stocks. Two trips here for just the one 290gm brown trout and hardly another one spotted over fishing four kilometres of river in the two trips. I did come across 13or so cormorants in one section of river at Gunns Plains which was a sorry sight to see that's for sure. I have spoken to several other trout fisher who all complained of the lack of trout in the river. Not only for this season but for the past few seasons now. Cormorants have really had a big impact on this river.
     ''The Leven River'" was one of the best trout rivers in the North up until three years ago and I can't believe how much it has declined in trout population. I do know that the IFS did an electro fish near Marshall's Bridge and came up with 19 browns in that area. I don't know what size they were or where else they electro fished the river at this stage. I'm sure they will have a report on the IFS website in  the very near future. I really do believe that this river does need a restocking program over at least three years. Last year there was a release of around 300 adult browns from Great Lake by the IFS into the river well below Gunns Plains. I feel the release of these adult browns should have been above the Leven Canyon or up at Dobson's Flats at least. But that's just my thoughts on where they should be released.  (ave. 0.5 fish)
    "'Mersey River'':  Every trip here was in mixed weather conditions that's for sure. Some days were in humid conditions where as others were in gusty hot North Easterlies to North Westerlies making it very tough fishing. With these conditions I mainly kept to working the fast water sections as the water is always cooler and hold more oxygen in them. The majority of my trips were again in the lower sections of the Meresy River being Merseylea & Kimberley (10 trips) and just the one trip to Weegena. Though the Weegena trip did produce 4 rainbows and 2 browns which wasn't too bad. And the best fish was a 590gm rainbow.
    The Merseylea and Kimberley runs of river that I fished did give up a total of 25 browns and 9 rainbows with the best fish being a (56cm) 1.6 kg brown that I caught during the Pirtek Fishing Challenge on a #00 Mepps black fury gold spinner. This fish came at the right time too as it gave me second place over all in the Tasmanian Freshwater section for brown trout, and only by the barest of margins as it was only 2mms between 2nd and 3rd place. In the eleven trips to the Mersey I picked up a total of 27 browns and 13 rainbows.  (ave. 3.64 fish)
   ** Well it's now down to the last month of the brown trout season for 2013-14 and here it is.
     1st April to the 27th April 2014. (Form 4) and I fished three rivers during this time those rives being the Meander, Dasher and the Mersey River. The Mersey being the main river that I fished followed by the Dasher River that was now worth fishing once again in cooler and higher river levels.
   We'll start with the "'Meander River'" as I only had the one trip here for the last month of the season and I picked up 5 browns  in very cold and windy conditions. The river was running clear and at a medium height which was good, but the river bottom was now very slippery and made for a very tough 4+ hours of wading. I did fish two separate areas on this trip with the first 1.5 km stretch giving up just the one brown though I did lose a couple of others. The second (900mtr) section gave up the other four browns with the best fish going 490gms.  (ave:5.00 fish)
   '" Mersey River'':  April turned out to be a real mix of weather conditions with gusty winds and the majority of them from an Easterly direction which is not the best for fishing. Any way it didn't stop me from going as it was the last month of the season and I was going to make the most of it. Some days were perfect and others, well not the best. Some days the fish were on and others they were just not interested and it didn't matter what I tried they just wouldn't strike.
    I did get in eight trips to the Mersey for a total catch of 29 browns and 7 rainbows with the best fish coming from the one Weegena trip and it was a 625 gm brown. The rest were all taken in the Merseylea and Kimberley areas.  (ave.4.5 fish)
     Last but not least is the Dasher River and I fished this because we have had some very good rainfalls over a  week or two and so it was worth fishing once again. I did have three trips to it early in the month picking up 29 browns with 17 of them coming from just the one trip. The best fish going 520 gms and all these fish were in great condition and above the average size again for this little river.
   I didn't fish the Dasher again until the 25th and 27th of April and it turned out to be a reasonable couple of trips with the last one being the better of the two. The last day of the season on the Dasher River couldn't have been any better as I finished up catching 19 beautifully well conditioned browns , and once again most were above the normal average size. The best fish went 530gms and the average weight of fish for this trip would have been around 470gms. So the end of the season finished on a high note and not like last season when it finished with out catching a fish. In the five trips to the Dasher River the catch was 56 browns. (ave.11.2 fish)
 Here's a quick run down on each of the rivers that I fished for the 2013-14 Brown Trout Season.''
   MERSEY RIVER:  ( fish average: 3.68 )
   TOTAL TRIPS:  34               
   BROWN TROUT:  97                
   MEANDER RIVER: (fish average: 8.63)
   TOTAL TRIPS:  19               
   BROWN  TROUT:  115             
   DASHER RIVER:  ( fish average: 13.13)
   TOTAL TRIPS:  8                 
   BROWN  TROUT:  105
   WESTERN  CK:   (fish average: 1 )
   TOTAL  TRIPS: 2                 
   LEVEN  RIVER:  (fish average: 0.5)
   TOTAL TRIPS: 2                  
    TOTAL  TRIPS   2013-14  SEASON:         65
    TOTAL  BROWN  TROUT  CAUGHT:        320
                           2013-14  TOTAL TROUT:      397          ( total season ave: 6.11 fish)
    ** Note:: Only 5% of the trout caught are kept as I always catch and release when possible.
 ''summing it all up for the 2013-14 Season.'"                   
    Summing up the 2013-14 season: It was a reasonable season for me as I did manage to catch 27 more trout than the 2012-13 season in ten less trips which was good. The fish taken in every river were all in very good to excellent condition. The rivers with the exception of the Leven River fished as well if not better than I expected for the season especially the Meander and Dasher Rivers. The conditions of the rivers were very good except for the Mersey River. The Mersey water was clear and very good but the river bottom seems to me to be in a very poor condition with slime and heavy silt build up amongst the rocks on the river bottom. Some sections which were mainly fast water were good for most stretches of it. There are still many cormorants in the Mersey River too.
    I did travel over to the Minnow River but not to fish it, but to see how if it has improved in condition from the struggle that it has gone through over the past few years. I did hop in and wade many sections of it and did not site a trout at all. The area at Beaulah has been ruined by off road vehicles that have been driving into and up the river. River banks have been destroyed and there is quite a lot of river bank erosion now caused by these off roaders.
    On a brighter note it was great to see that the little Dasher River has returned to be holding some nice above average browns. There's only one problem near Claude Road ( ex Hillstead property) where fencing has been washed away from floods and has not been repaired allowing cattle to get into the river causing some river bank damage. This will become much worse if and when it floods again.
   The Meander River seems to have made a reasonable comeback since it was hit hard by the influx of cormorants a few season ago. I only sighted a few on the river this season which was good. Fish sizes were all over the place with some very nice fish in some sections and then a lot of very small fish in others. Still good to see them building up again. Getting my best ever river brown was probably the highlight for me for the season ahead of picking up second place overall in the Pirtek Fishing Challenge. So in all it did turn out to be a reasonably good season for me, and after a three month lay off now, I'll be ready for the 2014-15 Brown Trout Season. "" Bring it on.''
by Adrian Webb
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