North East Tasmania Trouting

Jamie Henderson
The North East Coast of Tasmania is undoubtedly home to some of the states best saltwater fishing; world class game fishing, amazing estuary sports fishing and some of the best bream fishing in the country. When we talk about quality trout fishing our minds and hearts always wander to magical western lake-tailing trout, dun hatches on Little Pine and big sea run trout on the west coast. However for East Coast trout anglers there are a number of fresh water gems closer to home that offer quality trout fishing to those willing to do a little leg work and poking about. The region has it all to offer from magical stream fishing to trophy trout waters and all within 90 minutes drive from the East Coast town of St Helens.

Georges River
The Georges River is the first stop for most east coast trout fisherman and starts its life high in the mountains 30 minutes west of St Helens as two separate river systems, the North George River and the South George River.
The upper reaches are reminiscent of an English chalk stream, crystal clear water, dense forest growth and rich  in aquatic and terrestrial life, the perfect haven for small brown trout. The two rivers meet and converge to make the Georges River proper at Pyengana, a small dairy farming area, and flow through a mix of farm land, state forest and lowland plains eventually spilling into Georges Bay at St Helens.
During the first month of the season temperatures in Tasmania don't usually encourage much in the way of surface fly hatches however on the East Coast it is not unusual to have some earlier than the rest of the state and the Georges River is one of the few places in Tasmania where its possible to catch the small river trout on a dry fly on the first day of the season. Although the fish in the head waters are only small what they lack in size they certainly make up for it in sheer numbers. However as you head toward the lower limits fish numbers reduce but the sizes increase. Close to town you can expect resident fish up to 5-6 lb and monsters up to 8 lb have been caught in some of the darker deeper reaches fishing baits at night.

Ringarooma River
The Ringarooma River begins at the foothills between Ben Nevis, which is part of the Ben Lomond ranges and Mount Maurice to the north. It flows in a north easterly direction through mostly farmland and on past the township of Ringarooma itself. The top end of this river is simply magnificent with some superb stretches of water to fish. It has an excellent population of small to medium sized fish with the odd larger model poking about just to keep you on your toes. By the time it reaches the township of Branxholm, the catchment has grown to include drainage from the Maurice River and Legerwood Rivulet on the west and inflows from Federal Creek, the Dorset River and New River from the east. From Branxholm down it becomes difficult to access and very bouldery and deep and from Derby downstream the years of tin mining have left the river only a shadow of what it once would have been.
It's from Branxholm upstream through Ringarooma that offers anglers the best sport and is a flyfishermans dream water. Upstream spinning with small No.1 Celta (spinning blade) lures is also a popular and deadly fish catching technique in this water.

Frome Dam
The Frome Dam sits atop Kent Hill just south east of the small hamlet of Moorina. It was constructed in 1908 as a water source for the Moorina Power station to supply power to the tin mining schemes in the area. It holds approx 2500 mega litres of water when full and offers east coast anglers a close small waterway to chase a trout. This water is dark tannin in appearance and has a bottom laden with fallen tree stumps and logs so care needs to be taken when boating.
Unfortunately it offers very limited access for shore based anglers and is also surrounded by dense forest which makes wading almost impossible apart from a couple of areas where vehicles can be parked. At lower water levels more shoreline is exposed but much care needs to be taken when wading due to the sandy substrate and the possibility of sinking in the sand. A kayak or canoe is a good option.
The water has a good head of small fish and with spawning facilities available has a self sufficient population. During the summer months this dam can be host to some remarkable beetle, caddis, spinner and mudeye hatches offering some fantastic fishing.

Cascade Dam
The Cascade Dam, originally called the Briseis Dam until the infamous flood of 1929, when it burst and killed fourteen people in Derby, sits 350 metres above sea level on the Cascade River about 4 km upstream of the Ringarooma River junction. The dam was rebuilt in 1934 to supply the Briseis Tin Mine in Derby and has a capacity of around 3600 mega litres. The Briseis Tin Mine closed during the mid-1950s and the storage was virtually unused for about 20 years. In the mid-1970's plans to utilise this asset for agricultural irrigation emerged and this storage is now used to supply the Winnaleah Irrigation Scheme, which services 45 irrigators. The track into the dam is certainly not for standard cars; whilst most of the time 4WD is not needed a vehicle with decent ground clearance is.
During periods of high water shoreline access is almost non existent so the use of a small dinghy or kayak is a must and will certainly see a dramatic improvement in fishing ability. The water is deep, dark and very tannin stained with areas of standing dead timber, thick scrub shorelines and sunken timber everywhere so care is needed. Mixed reports come from this water however there is a good head of wild brown trout as it has a river and two creeks that constantly flow in it. Small to medium sized trout are caught throughout the season on fly, bait and spin gear and is well worth the trek.

Pioneer Mine Dam
The Pioneer Mine Dam, or Pioneer Lake, is a small water just north of the township of Pioneer. It is basically the old tin mine site, which was a big hole in the ground, which was then flooded with water.
Surrounded by white sandy banks it is a very clean water although dark and tannin coloured with rich aquatic life and a solid population of small galaxia fish. This water is stocked every year by the Inland Fisheries Service with brown trout fingerlings and adult rainbow trout.
This is an easy water to drive to and offers quite a bit of shoreline access for anglers. There are also boat launching facilities for those wishing to boat fish however anglers need to be aware that throughout the summer months water skiers also use this water. All methods are allowed on this water, fly, bait and lure.

North East Rivers Festival
During the last few years there has been a trout fishing competition held here as part of the North East Rivers festival. During the competition rainbow trout up to 8 lb have been caught and all throughout the season quality fish up to this size and larger are regularly caught. The competition will be held this year on the 17 th of October from 8 am until 4 pm and is open to adults and kids. Admission is adults $7, children (6-14) $5 and children under 6 free.
Prizes include Adult heaviest fish $500 worth of fishing tackle, child 1 st prize $100 of fishing tackle and child 2 nd prize $50 of fishing tackle all courtesy of St Helens Bait & Tackle.
There will be BBQ food, hot and cold drinks available and there will be porta loos onsite. No power boats will be permitted however electric motor powered vessels will be allowed. Fishing advice is offered all day courtesy of Viv Spencer from Inland Fisheries and random give away prizes regularly throughout the day.
It is an ideal family fun fishing day that can be enjoyed by all trout anglers regardless of age or sex, any queries contact Lexie on 63541013.

Big Waterhouse, Little Waterhouse Lakes and Blackmans Lagoon
All of these lakes are situated roughly 20 kms north east of Bridport along the coastline and are inside the Waterhouse Protected Area. They lay just a couple of kilometres inland from the coastline and sandy shorelines with sand dunes in the background are the only give away that you are near the ocean. All have the distinct dark tannin stained water colour endemic of coastal lagoons and rich weed growth all around the shoreline. It is this rich weed growth that promotes a massive amount of aquatic life in these lakes and in turn provides the trout with a veritable supermarket of food items to feed on.
Blackmans Lagoon and Big Waterhouse Lake have some of the fastest trout growth rates in the state and are considered state-wide as Trophy Trout waters with double figure fish coming from them nearly every season. Shore access can be difficult at times of high water with the massive weed beds proving to be a hindrance, a small boat or kayak is a definite advantage here. Both lakes have prolific galaxia populations and have huge mudeye hatches during the summer months and usually well before many other lakes around the state.
Little Waterhouse Lake is just a couple of kilometres north of the big lake but is much much smaller in size. This water can suffer badly to low water levels as the summer months loom closer but offers anglers more shore based angling than the other two lakes. All three waters are stocked every year by the Inland Fisheries Service with both brown and rainbow trout and during the last year triploids (sterile fish) have been introduced, this coupled with the high growth rate should offer anglers some fantastic fishing in the coming season.
All methods can be used on these waters, bait, fly and lure however all three lakes seem to reward the bait fisherman with some of the better catches.

So as you can see for east coast trout anglers there is no need to travel for hours and head to the highlands in order to grab a trout fix as some of the states best freshwater fishing is much closer than you think. It is also a great option if you are visiting and the weather is not conducive to bay or offshore fishing.

St Helens Bait & Tackle is an agent for Inland Fisheries Angling licences and stock a wide range of freshwater fishing tackle and accessories to cover you for all your trout fishing options.

Jamie Henderson

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