Where to find trout as the days grow colder

by Greg French

Trout fishing - as the season winds down most Tasmanian trout waters are closed to angling from the end of April, but there are a few which can be fished throughout May. Greg French explains what each has to offer:

Great Lake

Although many brown trout will have moved upstream to spawn, there will still be intense congregations near the outfalls of tributary creeks. Canal Bay, which is fed by Liawenee Canal (the main spawning ground­) will have been closed to angling since the end of March and it is illegal to fish in any tributary of Great Lake or to fish within 50 metres of a tributary mouth. Nonetheless, plenty of fish will be available immediately beyond these limits and they are usually happy to snatch lures and big wet flies.

Patterns with a splash of red seem to trigger an aggression response along spawners and are highly recommended. The best areas are in the vicinity of the inflows of Halfmoon Creek, Doctors Creek, Brandum Creek, Sandbanks Creek and Breton Rivulet and immediately outside Canal Bay defined by white posts on Rainbow Point and Clarks the water near the inflow in Tods Corner is also worth special attention as are minor tributary mouths if the creeks are swollen by heavy rains.

Rainbow trout will not yet be spawning and may be targeted in the usual areas. It is often very cold in May, so good hatches are unlikely and the wind lanes will probably not be very productive. In past seasons, rainbows have moved close to shore when heavy wave action has stirred up food in the shallows, but the waves appear to have had less effect now that the lake is covering new (firm) ground.

Fly fishers and lure enthusiasts alike will fare best if they fish from a boat just beyond the drowned heath.

Dee Lagoon

Rainbows account for about 50% of the catch at Dee, and in May this species remains the main attraction for anglers. Trolling and drift spinning will be productive in the usual hot spots in the Southern Basin, while the Eastern Shore, Station Bay and Brownie Bay are always good for lure casting when the wind is on shore.

If, early in the month, the weather is not too harsh (it will probably be a slight better than Great Lake) fly fishers will find some midging fish in the windlanes and fair rises to jassids. If all else fails, wet fly fishing in Mentmore Bay will usually result in good bags of pre-spawned browns.

Lagoon of Islands

This water has made a remarkable recovery after the doldrums of 1987 to 1991 and is again producing trout which average 2 kg or so and commonly attain 4 kg. In recent years browns have been prominent, but there are still plenty of rainbows. The trout have a reputation for being difficult to catch and May is far from the best month to fish. Nonetheless, keen fly fishers still manage to locate fish along the lee shores, midging and taking snails. Lure casters with boats prefer to concentrate on the pockets of the open water along the weeds further out. There will be accumulations of brown trout around the mouth of the Ripple Diversion but remember that it is illegal to fish within 50 metres if where the channel discharges into the lake.

Lake Rowallan

This is a sheltered water which holds both browns and rainbows. On calm days fly fishers will be able to find incidental rises, and wet fly fishing at dusk will result in good bags right up until the last day of season.

May is a good time for trollers and spin fishers, with big bags being taken both from the banks and the outer edge of the drowned trees. Rainbows will provide the best sport (and food) and will be most common in the open water at the dam end. Brown trout will be heavily in spawn and concentrated at the top end of the lake.

The areas closed to angling include the Mersey River above Lake Rowallan as well as all other tributaries and stream mouths.

Lake Skinner

A minor alpine fishery located on the Snowy Range west of Huonville. The wind is notorious and in late autumn things are likely to be cold and wet. The lake is accessible only by walking track and visitors must carry warm clothing and waterproofs. Fly fishers should forget it until next summer when, on bright days, they will find good fish cruising wind lanes that have blown on shore. Spin fishing often results in a fish or two at any time of the year.

The West Coast

Three waters on the west coast are open to trout fishing in May - Lake Mackintosh, Roseberry and Burbury. The brown trout in all of these lakes spawn late (sometimes not until August) so there will be no concentrations of fish around the spawning creeks.

The pick of the waters is Lake Burbury which carries an over supply of wild rainbows and browns averaging 0.8 kg or so. Spinning and wet fly fishing, from bank or boat, seem to result in big bags at any time of the year, as does trolling. Fly fishers will continue to find midging rainbows in the wind lanes and good evening risers. If its numbers of fish that you are after, rather than size, this water will provide the best late Autumn sport available in Tasmania.

Lake Mackintosh and Roseberry hold mainly browns (as well as a few stocked rainbows) but, while they are well utilised by locals, they offer little of special interest to visitors. They are never to be highly recommended and are at their least appealing in May. The best bags will be taken by spin fishers and trollers.

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