Tips on Starting the Season

Every year this question confronts the avid angler, as gear is prepared in readiness for the approaching opening of yet another trout season. The choices of a water that is likely to produce well early this season are probably more numerous than they have been over the past couple of seasons. Many of the lakes are rising over ground that has been dry for a long time and are sure to have trout, hungry from the recent spawning run. Foraging in numbers over the shallows, they gorge themselves on worms and grubs forced to the surface by the rising water.
So, where to head for opening - brave the elements of the central highlands or go for the milder climate of the lowland lakes and streams?

For those brave souls who don't mind a bit of frostbite Arthurs Lake will take some beating as reports say the lake is rising well over last years levels and is sure to produce some great fish this season. Areas worthy of note will be the Cow Paddock, Hydro bay and also the Subsidiary dam end of the lake. 

Great lake is always a great early starter, in particular for those fly fishermen using fast sinking lines from a boat; Swan Bay - below the Great Lake hotel, Todds Corner and also the Beehives are as good as anywhere for a look. For the first time Great Lake has had no closed season at all. And even during the coldest snaps over winter it has continued to produce good catches.
For the purist fly fisherman places like Little Pine Lagoon and Penstock usually perform well early, particularly if the water levels are as high as expected.


Further west to the Bronte chain and its "pick a lake, any lake" as water levels in most, at the time of writing this article, were well up amongst the tussocks. Note that some waters in this chain of lakes can fluctuate from week to week due to Hydro requirements so it can be a bit of a gamble if you are heading for a particular lake. If you are going past the Bronte Park Highland Village, call in and have a chat to the proprietors, Robyn and Denis Wiss. They'll know which waters are up and which are down; more importantly they will know which lakes are fishing well and should be able to point you in the right direction - nothing beats local knowledge.
In the lowlands, where the temperature is sure to be a bit more appealing for many, there are a myriad of options to choose from. When it comes to lowland lakes, many are sure to head for places like Blackmans Lagoon based on reputation alone. Although this water was once arguably one of the best trophy trout waters in the state, it has suffered dramatically over recent times with low water levels. The last time I was there, the trout were learning to swim backwards because there wasn't enough water to turn around in and it is unlikely to return to its former glory again until something is done about increasing the water flow into it.

Thanks to Saltas, Meadowbank dam is sure to be the trophy water once again this year as they have again released some leviathans over recent weeks to test angler's skills to the limit. If you are fortunate enough to hook into one of these monsters and skilled enough to land it, please return the tag to Saltas, this is the only way for them to monitor whether or not it is worth their effort donating these trophy fish for our enjoyment. It would be a great shame if they were to discontinue this practice because we anglers were too lazy to return a tag.
Craigbourne Dam in the south of the state is another that has suffered low levels over the past couple of seasons, however, this particular lake which is one of the waters nominated to be open all year round has reportedly continued to fish reasonably well despite the low water level.
With constant rains over recent weeks, river fishermen are sure to be the winners in the lowlands early this season. Many of the rivers are full and some have flooded out onto neighboring paddocks creating a food bonanza for trout and it is here that the old wooly worm imitation comes into its own for the fly fishermen.

You can literally pick just about any river in the lowlands and it will produce fish early in the season whilst conditions are the way they are at the moment, its more a matter of what size fish you want to catch that will determine the river you should fish.
For those that fancy something at the larger end of the scale, rivers such as the South Esk, the Macquarie, the Break O'Day, and the Derwent can produce some excellent fishing.
Other rivers worthy of note when size isn't an issue but action is are the St. Patricks, Nile, Little Forester and Coal.

My top five flies for opening weekend.

Wooly Bugger Mark 2 - large and small sizes dependent on where you are fishing.
This is a great all round pattern which performs consistently in a wide variety of different waters and supposedly imitates a variety of things such as frogs, grubs and "couta" mudeyes.

Wooly Worm - black, green and my early season favourite - brown.
With rising water levels and flooded margins, this fly has the potential to fill your bag limit in no time flat.

Green and Gold Zonker - this is the fly fisherman's equivalent to the lure fisherman's ever-popular green and gold favourite.
It imitates small fish such as galaxia and the zonker strip of fur on its back gives it an enticing "pulsing" motion as it goes through the water.

Red and Black Fur Fly - another popular pattern that performs consistently well early in the season and once again has that enticing "pulsing" action in the water.

Red and Black Dog Nobbler - a great fly at any time of year when fished from a boat using a floating line. The double B or no.2 split shot on the head of this fly makes it lethal to both fish and the fisherman using it. The action of this fly as it goes through the water is similar to that of a roller coaster ride, rising up on the 'strip" and dropping rapidly on the slack, this action seems to trigger the attack mechanism in trout. The fly travels upside down and "takes" are usually quite savage with most fish hooked in the roof of the mouth.
(Because this is a heavy fly the hesitation at the front and rear of the casting action needs to be increased to allow your figure eight loops to straighten out - otherwise wind knots will cost you a few fish - otherwise this is one deadly fly!)  

My top five lures for opening weekend.

Min Min's TP (Tropical Perch) - although this excellent bibbed lure can be easily cast on light tackle, it is when trolled slowly that it turns into the most lethal of lures and is available in both shallow and deep running styles.

Micro Min's BT (Brown Trout) - similar to the Min Min only smaller, the Micro Min is another lethal lure when trolled slowly, makes a great river fishing lure and is available in both shallow and deep running styles, this particular colour is a great favourite.

Green and Gold Tassie Devil - the green & gold is as I have said, the best all round colour to have in the tackle box. Tasmanian made (as the name implies), Tassie devils are a great all round lure, they make an excellent trolling lure and also have the weight for long distance casting from the shore, particularly where there is a deeper drop off and you want the lure to get down amongst the fish.

Fish Mauler's "Rainbow Trout" - Arguably the most under rated lures on the market today, Fish Maulers have an excellent 'shimmering" action as they travel through the water - much the same as a real fish, and are ideally weighted for spinning from the shore. They handle shallow water spinning with ease and are Tasmanian made.

Pegron's "Frog" - this little baby accounted for many fish last season and is sure to do so again this season. It is a great lure for shore-based fishermen in both lakes and rivers.

Well, that's it for another edition - have a safe opening and may your rod bend in two, your reel scream its head off and a severe case of fish fever make your heart pound with excitement.

John Orchard