Presented from Issue 109, April 2014
Post-Christmas has me focussed on the Derwent’s big black bream more often than not these days and given my proximity to the river its little wonder that is the case. In a busy time poor world the ease one can achieve a few hours at the drop of a hat it’s a quick release to clear the mind. But come April the true trout angler inside always sees me looking to the highlands for a couple of late season fixes on the trout.
Blessed we are in Tassie to be never much more than an hour or so from many of our highland lakes from our major population centres, we have many choices if the lakes and impoundments are on the radar.
| A Woolly Bugger fly fish in the
trees brought this fish undone
Late season trouting is generally targeting pre- spawn fish. So as a rule they ‘should’ be hungry, feeding up prior to heading up the streams, creeks and rivers to do their bit in the life cycle of the wild Tassie trout.
How do we maximise our chances? Two things leap right out for me; running water and bright orange. The later we get to the close of the season the closer to these creeks one should be fishing.
Keep in mind local rules and regulations as they can vary vastly from water to water. The INFISH app released by the Inland Fisheries Service is a great little tool to check on local regs. Most of us carry a smart phone of one variety or another in today’s world so I’d suggest taking a look at it. In this article we will focus on our lakes. River and stream fishing can be vastly different although similar tactics can be utilised given the cormorant decimation over the past twelve months I think they could do with a bit of a rest. Great to see them bouncing back as they are.
DAYS GONE BY:
I remember vividly as a high school boy fishing Lake Sorell around the Easter long weekend. Trolling around the waters on the eastern Hatchery Shore as it was known. You could look out from the small open dinghy and see literally hundreds of trout free leaping from the water. Now these were, and given the tremendous fishery Sorell was, not small trout. They averaged close to 3lb up there out of the water and probably around 1.2kg cleaned. When these fish were ‘on the fly’ so to speak they weren’t all that easy to catch.
| A typically ‘dark’ spawning
brownie taken on a Rapala
In the early days we probably landed more rainbows on the gum beetle patterns and alexadria’s as the browns we thought were preoccupied. It may have been by chance that the bright lure scenario was discovered in our younger years as we would have always had green and gold drummed in to us by the old timers ‘that knew best’. Hot pink certainly wasn’t a colour used in Tassie for a long long time and has only just become popular locally in the last two or three seasons.
There were a couple of lures that we found would catch these fish more regularly than many others. We used a Tassie Devil now discontinued, #17 ‘Spot Lights’. It was an orangy red with 7 yellow circular dots on it. The other was an old Nilsmaster, frosty green on the back with the sides again bright red, and yellow. They were our go to lures. We would of course catch fish on other colours but always had these swimming over the side.
In the 25 years since those days I guess you could say we have revised and improved our tactics targeting these trout.
I’ll cover this first as for me it’s something that doesn’t really change regardless of location anywhere in the state. At the end of the season the first thing I tie on is black, gold and orange. It doesn’t matter what brand or style that’s my weapon of choice. That said I don’t think it matters what’s on the lure with the orange, I believe that is the key. So much so I’ve used all orange Tassie Devils to great effect right through the season. Stick fluoro orange under an ultraviolet light and perhaps that’s a clue to the reason why.
Not only is it bright to our eyes, the UV glow out of a fluoro orange is astounding. It’s long been accepted that UV signatures can be a big factor in stimulating fish to attacks a lure.
Keeping it local look no further than Cranka Lures with their minnows; Salmon Guts, BBQ Prawn, Fire Trout and Golden Trout will all get the job done. Another gun colour for end of season, and right through the year, is the Spotted Dog variations. YEP Tassie Tackle has a gem in the Golden Seducer.
While I’ll fish this out of the box through the year I love to tinker with lures and this gets a pimping job with a blast of you guessed it fluoro orange right along its belly for late season trout.
The Hawk Snipers also fitting the bill with a black and gold and also from their new custom range the Ghost Prawn should fool more than a few silly trout up top.
For those trolling or throwing heavier lures the Tassie Devil Range has some standouts colour wise; #102 Bengal Tiger, #110 Perch and #56 Fireball all great choices. The #PP Phosphorus Pearl also excellent particularly fished deep on lead line.
When fishing soft plastics again I’m headed straight for the Pumpkinseed colours. I like the orange ok. Local manufacturer Strike Tiger has a great colour in the Vodka n Orange and in darker water the Toffee Apple has a good contrast being somewhat denser in colour. I also find that the translucent greens also stand out extremely well with their UV signatures but that’s a colour I’ll fish earlier in the year. Strike Tiger, Z-man and the old school Wasabi Wriggler all winners on that front.
|The Bradys whitewater always
holds fish. Keep good contact
with your lure or fly
|Drifting the riffled fastwater
on the Derwent brings results
I guess the main thing that has changes the way we fish is the electric motor. While I have been drift spinning in the trees at Lake Echo for as long as I can remember and well before anyone cared to join us we can do it now days with a fair but more control. There are days where trolling around the tree lines and inflows while land you big bags of trout but 99 times out of 100 drift spinning will win you the day. Sure a trolling boat will cover more water but from the drifting boat you can cover all of the water around you.
Lake Echo was my favourite trouting destination in Tassie. I personally believe it has been the victim of some overzealous stocking in recent years but the good fish are still there and late season sees them congregate to a certain extent. The northern end of the lake sees many sheltered bays all with inflowing creeks on the western shore. There is also the Monpeelyata Canal which enters the lake on the left of the northern ‘beach’ as we call it in my boat.
The trout don’t just mill about in a foot or two of water right outside the creek but they are starting to think about the call of nature. Not all trout will spawn every year or so I believe. You will find them far and wide but to maximise your chances target these bays and using Lake Echo as an example and reference.
Teal Bay sees a predominant creek with good flows. It enters the lake off centre in a shallow marsh which gently slopes out in to the lake. The marsh flats hold lots of fish, but only at first light, you’re wasting your time fishing 50m from the creek in shallow water all day long. Instead target the shorelines either side of the bay for several hundred metres either way. The trout patrol the trees, perhaps feeling safe with the abundance of structure around them. Long searching casts pay dividends, another reason for quality light gear. The further you cast the longer that lure is in the water. The more time it spends in the air the less time you are presenting it to prospective fish. 40m casts compared to 30m casts give you 25% more time in the water.
I’m not one to simply just wind a lure back to the boat. Constant twitches off the rod tip and a few pauses along the way will amp up your retrieve making it irresistible to a hungry aggressive trout. I’ve found that more and more in the past few years a perfectly placed pause fools the trout as equally effectively as it does the native bream.
Most boats are equipped with a reasonable sounder these days. Out the front of the bays look for drop offs or the edge of weed lines of which this bay has both. This is prime water for throwing those plastics around. Fish them deep and slow with a few added aggressive lifts of the rod in the retrieve.
North of the top ramp Large Bay extends over a flat and at moderate levels holds 1-2m meters of water. This floor here holds good weed growth after being submerged in the spring. Provided the day is overcast fish will hold in here all day long.
If they aren’t here again look deeper, the tree line marks a steep drop off and the stand in mid water is good with excellent weed growth. The good fishing continues north along the shore and both lures and plastics will catch.
Surveyors holds a great fishing depth regardless of water levels and is probably the best water in the lake late season. Weed beds abound from the marsh right out following the tree spur pointing south in the main lake. It doesn’t matter how much water is holding behind the dam face, there are always fish in this bay. Find a depth that suits your lure and just keep plugging away. You can drift it in any wind and the creek line runs down the middle of the bay. Casting lures and plastics here will land you many trout. On the point entering the bay look for drop offs that also holds fish deep.
On to the Monpeelyata Canal area and this info can be applied to most waters state-wide. A strong inflow creating a good current that extends a long way out in to the lake. The more often than not prevailing westerlies will push this current east and it runs down the eastern shore for some way.
This is a magnet to fish nearing the seasons end. This region of the lake can be fished all day long, targeting water from less than a metre deep out to around 5m. You will find both pre-spawn browns and feeding rainbows. Over the sandy bottom here I find lures out fish plastics by a fair way. But further along the shore they seem to make a bit of a comeback particularly where the rocky bottom starts to take over.
The open water extending out to the Bullbank (islands) is another great trolling circuit, again the current from the canal lending a lot to do with this. It is here also that a dawn patrol on the midging fish can return a good brace of very solid fish. Hundreds of rising fish can be seen. I’ve found this fish to be accepting towards a hardbody lure and not just the fly; a rip- rip-pause style retrieve bringing them undone when they are on the chew.
Another very successful tactic that can be employed is the use of surface lures after night falls. It is in these hours where you can find the big fish. And we are often talking those trophy sized trout we all desire. Running water is once again the key. Trout of all sizes have the desire to spawn once they reach maturity. Some of these large trout will prey on that very fact. A fish in excess of 10lb in the old scale can make pretty light work of even a 450gr fish. They seemingly also can’t resist a surface lure pooping across the top of the water. Mistaking it for a frog or mouse or whatever it may be but see it as an easy meal they do. Warmer nights seem to be a key here perhaps the extra insect life and surface action promoting a need for the fish to keep looking up for that feeding opportunity. Again check the local regulations for where and when you cannot fish.
It’s not all bright lures and fast water in April and May. Hot sunny days with a nice northerly to boot can see some great gum beetle falls. Dee Lagoon is a favourite of mine in such conditions. Find a day or two just as described following some slightly cooler weather and the proverbial pot of gold can be found.
One particular day springs to mind where we had just the day. A warm start after a hot night already had a fair bit of life on the water. The odd fish was rising but we still were struggling. Then up sprung a hot northerly, very strong breeze and the temp rose to mid 30’s in an instant. It last about an hour and in that time we landed a fish on a hopper pattern. The wind then dropped as quickly as it started to a nice breeze and the beetles began to fall out of the trees.
In the bright sun we could see trout after trout cruise up the shore line sipping down gum beetles as they fell. In stark contrast to the famously tough trout on the Dee we had fish virtually fighting over our flies that day.
A day at Penstock also a highlight when a warm day saw a late season hatch and fish were starting to sip from the surface. Only one or two at first and again they were hard to target. One fish was sighted and covered with a big old woolley bugger with a flash of tinsel. Soon boated after a aerobatic fight was a true Tasmanian trout as beautifully marked as I have ever seen. Before long the whole lake was covered in rising fish and an amazing hour or so of fishing was had before it stopped as quickly as it started.
|It can snow in the Central Highlands
any month. April and MayIt can snow
in the Central Highlands any month.
April and Mayreally start to cool
down though so be well prepared
You can apply this info to any still water in the state. Arthurs has some very similar bays and creeks where similar tactics are used. The Great Lake’s Canal Bay, while off limits at certain times of the year can most certainly be fished successfully outside the markers. Todds Corner is no longer closed and when the pipe is running, make hay while the sun shines. There are many other smaller but no less significant inflows around the lake. Bright orange is the key in my book. It’s a trend that has appeared every season. Some associate it to the colour matching egg roe and that may be the case. Glo Bugs in fluoro orange or red certainly are deadly in the streams and rivers around the world where they are allowed to be used. It probably correct, and also the UV signature it puts out. One thing is for sure it’s effective and worth adding to your tackle boxes and memory banks. The best lure in the box is confidence and it works for me.
I hope these general tactics that I’ve applied over the years help you to find a few trout as the season draws to a close. Before too long I’ll be back chasing those Derwent sea-runners, the best fishing our state offers at the opposite end of the season at opening weekend.