Todd Lambert's Season 2010/11 review

Todd Lambert's season 2010/11 review - Presented from Issue 91

Todd Lambert offers this reflection on five of Tasmania’s more popular fisheries and how he as an ‘everyday angler’ felt they performed. Below is his season 2010/11 review.

Even though most of our Lakes and rivers are about to close, there are still a few trout waters remaining open for those keen enough to venture out in a cold Tasmanian winter, but for the majority of us it’s time to sit back, turn our interests to other things and reflect back on the season past.

On the 7th of August 2010 (opening day) lakes such as Arthurs and Leake already had plenty of water in them but the general conscientious from most of the anglers I spoke to was that the damage had been done and this year was going to be ‘ordinary ‘ at best.

Only months earlier the Cowpaddock at Arthurs Lake, was little more than a barren wasteland that one was able to walk over without even getting their feet damp (let alone find any fish), and when the rains finally did refill Arthurs, the water was turbid, it’s colour uninviting and many fish caught from its shores were what one could only describe as being in very poor condition.

Many anglers were already making plans to fish waters elsewhere and Toom’s Lake was the ‘big white hope ‘. I will come back to Arthurs later in this article, but as one of many that ventured to Tooms Lake for the ‘opening season weekend ‘ this is perhaps where I should start.

Tooms Lake

Due to an intensive stocking program and good rainfall increasing its levels towards the end of the 2009/10 season, hopes were high that Tooms was back in a big way, myself and some friends that I fish with thought the same as during the closing weeks of that year we had caught some well conditioned rainbows and browns that were obviously gorging themselves on the huge population of Galaxiad that had developed during Toom’s recent ‘lean times ‘.

Fish condition was obviously not going to be a problem here.

Armed with that knowledge, some of our group, alongside many others, set up camp a couple of day’s beforehand and waited until the opening morning to test our theory.

As daylight broke on opening day, all the anglers that were there would remember the lake enshrined in a heavy fog and those with boats were forced to wait until it lifted before heading out safely to see what was on offer.

I remember distinctly sitting around the campfire with my friends waiting for this to happen as an elderly angler pulled up beside us in his car and began to set up his grub hooks and rods.

We watched amazed as he proceeded to pull in three plump rainbows before the fog had even allowed us to leave the shoreline and when we returned to camp for breakfast at 8.30 am, he had left, I assume with his bag.

It was at this time that the first of the season’s fish were proudly displayed along with the first tales of the big ones that got away; unfortunately it was me running that line.

Johnny Dekkers had landed two nice browns on the fly, Virginia Mckenna had a brown pushing 3 pounds and Dale Howard had a small rainbow caught on soft plastics and as expected their condition was fantastic.

Our small group headed home on the Sunday with 26 fish between us, the biggest landed for the weekend was a monster brown weighing nearly six pounds, caught by Dale Howard on that Saturday evening at dusk.

It was caught on one of his famous Yep Lures. When cleaned, all fish were full of Galaxias, caddis and scud...and I mean full, so obviously there are still some very fertile weed beds left in this lake.

For reasons unknown, perhaps it was lack of opportunity, perhaps it was easier to fish waters closer to home, but I personally never returned to Tooms this year, a couple of our group did with mixed results in terms of their catch rate, but the one constant that remained was the condition of the fish landed was always first class.

Based on all that, in our opinion.... Tooms Lake is back and will be even better next season.

Four Springs Lake

Where does one start when writing about this place?

It is indeed a credit to the Inland Fisheries Service and those anglers that had the vision and determination to get it created early in the 1990s. Everything that was desired was achieved and it has already given so much pleasure to so many anglers of all ages, it is a fishery that just keeps producing the goods and this year was no different.

We fished it quite often for the first couple of months, and then, like many others, tended to leave it alone from around December onwards as we pursued trout in other waters. I returned to fish it mainly with my children using soft plastics in the last month of the season and many fish in fantastic condition came to the net.

It is water where you always have the chance to hook up with something big and I was lucky enough to do that twice in twenty minutes on one memorable occasion this season with mixed results.

Whilst fishing a nymph in the direction of the disabled anglers jetty one morning I managed to hook a fish that tore off all my fly line and three parts of my backing within seconds, never before had I witnessed such a fish on the end of my fly rod, we even started pursuing it with the electric motor, as for a while it didn’t look like stopping.

To cut a long story short, I lost that fish after the hooks pulled around ten minutes into the battle and it was still around twenty meters away from the boat.

We saw it twice, it was a brown that we estimated would have come in anywhere between 6 to 10 pounds in weight.

Absolutely devastated I recast my line, only to see another monster hook up not twenty minutes later, luck was with me this time and once netted ,we found it weighed in at 6.5 pounds, my biggest ever trout caught on a fly but more importantly though, I feel I also landed a memory that will last me for a lifetime.

All this and I was only half an hour away from my home, how good is that?

The only ‘complaint ‘ (for lack of a better word) that I heard come from some anglers was that the bait fishing was not as productive this year as it has been in years past, that issue (in my opinion) has since been well and truly addressed for next season with the Inland Fisheries Service stocking it with 750 domestic rainbows of around 1500 grams on the 8th of February 2011.

No doubt a few of these fish were caught as this season drew to a close, but I am certain that there will still be sufficient numbers remaining in its depths come opening day of the 2011/2012 season to keep shore based anglers interested.

Complimented also with the IFS’S regular stocking regime for this water, no doubt Four Springs Lake will be the place of choice that many head for again come that first weekend in August.

Lake Leake

This is another water that suffered badly given the dry conditions of 2009/10. Whilst most of the rainbows were still around 70 per cent ‘condition wise ‘ at this time, the Lake Leake browns were found to be very slabby with big heads and a tapered body seemingly common place during that particular period. Many of the locals put the main reason for this down to the fact that there were a lot of old fish left in the lake and the very poor water clarity at the time made it even harder for them to come back to the three and a half pound (on average) freight trains that we all remember them being, prior to the drought.

As the water levels rose, bringing with it increased clarity and reclaiming a lot of the Lake Leake marshland, one could hear the many thousands of frog’s croaking, they had started breeding again and the resident trout could now find an easier meal, they began feeding...big time!!

The difference in the condition of a fish caught in November 2010 to one caught in early January 2011 was staggering to say the least, although rainbow trout now made up a larger percentage of the bags caught, they were fat, strong and healthy and one would imagine that they will be even better next season with another year of high water levels under their belts.

At the time of writing this article, The Inland Fisheries had stocked over 36,000 Triploid rainbow trout back into this lake over five separate stocking periods beginning on the 5th of November 2009.

Their size ranged from 20 grams to 100 grams.

This is water that no matter how much you tell people about the fantastic fishing on offer and how good the wind lane fishing can be early morning, it still seems to fly largely under the radar by most of Tasmania’s angling fraternity.

Very rarely will one find more than a couple of boats on it at any one time, the locals like it like that and therefore not a lot of news comes out about it when it is firing...and who can blame them?

Opinion?...Lake Leake is back and getting better!!!

Great Lake

It is hard to search for a positive when in the middle of a drought and we were witnessing so many of our popular waters deteriating into a state of demise, but perhaps the one ‘plus ‘ that we can draw some level of satisfaction from was the re emergence of Great Lake as a premier fishery during this period.

Any fishing guide or regular Great Lake disciple will tell you it has always been at the top of the tree, and they will also tell you that it is very, very, under utilised by a Tasmanian angling fraternity that up to a couple of years ago was spoilt for fishing options.

We were ‘spoilt ‘ with the season we had on this water in 2010/11 and to be honest, we were confident of the same success again this year, but that being said, in my opinion, this was the one fishery that disappointed us and failed to live up to our expectations, although I also expect many others will disagree with me.

Perhaps it was a case of us fishing all the wrong areas, I do not know, but on a personal level it was nothing like the ‘season previous ‘ in terms of catch rate and quality with our bags significantly poorer overall to those witnessed last year.

The resident Cramps Bay browns were particularly ordinary, with the better quality fish succumbing to our soft plastics in the Sandbanks area.

That being said, as Arthurs Lake began kicking into gear, we found it hard to give Great Lake the attention that perhaps we should have... and that it truly deserved.

We all know it is a hugely underrated fishery and one of the best around for those anglers that enjoy ‘shark fishing ‘ (a name given to polaroiding trout feeding in the waves) my information is that skilled exponents of this form of fishing such as Jim Allan experienced some fantastic sessions here especially around Christmas time in the Boundary Bay area.

Most of our fishing was done with soft plastics.

Talking to fellow anglers, opinion is divided; trollers also seemed to have the better results to show for the time and effort they put in here.

We also heard of many excellent reports coming out of the Elizabeth Bay area, so perhaps my criticism is a bit harsh, therefore I will play it safe and leave the final judgement on Great Lake’s performance this season, ....up to you.

Arthurs Lake

I’ve left the best until last, where does one start when writing about this fishery?

On the 16th of January 2009 my family and I were in the middle of the Cowpaddock walking on dirt and watching dust spring up violently with each passing gust of wind.

The Jonah bay boat ramp was closed to the public, the water clarity, resembled liquid clay and the car parks were empty.

Arthurs for all intents and purposes was, for the time being at least... dead.

It broke my heart, as no doubt it did many others as well, to see it in this state.

As the rains came and it began filling I wondered if it would deliver the fly fishing that it was renowned for, after all , there was no weed, therefore it stood to reason there would be no dun hatches right?... wrong.

In the second week in February, myself and a handful of lucky anglers fishing the Cowpaddock witnessed the biggest hatch of duns I personally have ever seen on this water and it seemed every fish on the lake was on them, this is a memory I will never forget.

Although a hatch of this size was a ‘one off’ as far as I saw, the fishing around this time was outstanding with our boat landing a total of around 40 fish in the four consecutive sessions that we fished it, most were around the 2.5 to 3 pound mark.

I did fish other areas of the lake around this time, but nowhere did I find the water clearer and the renewed weed growth thicker.

Fish condition had well and truly returned with most of the fish coming to the net found to be in excellent buckle and very, very strong.

Our most successful method was that of fishing a nymph a couple of feet under a dry.

I also witnessed huge hatches of caddis of an evening that provided great sport in and around the Duck Bay area.

What a truly remarkable fishery this water is and what an asset it is, not only to Tasmanian anglers but also to the many mainlanders that visit it, bringing with them a substantial boost to the state’s economy as well.

Once again we saw Jonah Bay car park full of cars sporting mainland number plates and the local campgrounds bursting at the seams with a myriad of motor homes and tents.

Let’s hope that due to the large amount of rainfall we witnessed over the summer, we seize on the opportunity in that we have been given a second chance at Arthurs and hopefully we will never see it at the low water levels witnessed in 2009.

Yes, in my opinion, Arthurs Lake is back at its rightful place as one of the state’s premier fisheries.

In summary, what started out being a year of pessimism in terms of my personal outlook for the season surprised both me and my fishing mates by delivering results well beyond our hopes and expectations.

How lucky we are to live in this great state and how lucky we are to have the fisheries mentioned in this article coming back as strong as ever.

That was my season fellow anglers; I hope yours was a success as well.

Todd Lambert.

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