Best trouting prospects for October-November
by Greg French
For the Tasmanian trout fisher October - November is options time. With everything firing at once, you can give yourself ulcers just agonizing over where to fish. Let's run through the highlands:Sea Trout - These are the peak months for sea trout fishing and, barring major floods, virtually all the big-name rivers will be at their best.
The hot spots are:
The Derwent estuary - from the Tasman Bridge in New Norfolk.
The Huon River - from Port Huon to the confluence of the little Dension River. Most banks are deep and overgrown. Limited scope for shore-based sport can be found at Shipwrights Point (Port Huon), the bridge in Huonville, the bridge at Judbury, the mouth at Russell River and the mouth of the Little Dension River. Anglers who enjoy set rod fishing or casting will find these areas quite productive but be warned - if you are used to stalking trout, you will be frustrated by all the whitebait feeders slashing about out of reach. A dinghy is a definite plus - even if you are not a troller. The estuarine reaches of Esperance, Lune, D'Entrecasteaux and Catamaran rivers/ Again dinghies are essential for those wishing to stalk trout.
The Tamar Estuary - especially the tailrace below the Trevallyn Power Station. Trout chase whitebait along the drowned willow roots. Take a dinghy.
The Great Forester River - from the ocean to just upstream of the Waterhouse Road. Since the lowest reaches flow across a wide sandy beach and the rest is flanked by grassy paddocks, fishing from the banks is most appropriate. The trout, sea runners and river residents, can be seen ambushing whitebait from the cavities in the banks.
The Inglis, Duck, Mersey and Leven estuaries - Plenty of scope for either shore based sport or boating.
The Black and Detention rivers - These are rather small but offer superb sport. At low tide fishing from the exposed sand flats is best. A dinghy is handy when water is high.
The lower Gordon River - Accessible only via Macquarie Harbour from Strahan. This is a 40 kilometre journey across exposed tidal seas and cannot be safely accomplished without a sea-worthy runabout. Since the weather is unpredictable, you many also be prepared to postpone departures or returns. The best water extends from Gordon Point (Macquarie Harbour) across the spit and continues for the last ten kilometres upriver (to Pine Landing). Since there is no scope for fishing from the steep rain forested banks, trolling has long been s the most popular angling method. However, wet fly fishing from a dinghy is very productive, especially when you can see the fish slashing about after whitebait. There are virtually no comfortable bank side tent sites but the Boom Camp (hut) at Pine Landing comfortably sleeps 8-12 people.
The lower Henty River - A superb fly water. I now suspect that most fish never migrate far from the river mouth - while many are quite silver, few are entirely free of red spots. This is an academic observation, though, since the trout are generally sleek and muscular and they behave exactly like true sea-run fish, charging about all over the place mowing down whitebait. The lower reaches flow over open beach and fish are best stalked from the banks. Further upstream, in the vicinity of the Henty Road Bridge, the banks are overgrown and fishing from a dingy is essential. Here it is best to hunt those trout which lie in wait among the drowned roots and bank side snags.
The Pieman River - from the heads to the Reece Dam. The banks are steep and scrubby and a boat is essential for good sport. The only launching facilities are at Corinna. All of the river can be good for trolling, though the deeper section from the heads to the First Rapid is most reliable. Fly fishers often find the best displays of chasing and charging occur in the First Rapid and Second Rapid some 15-16 kilometres upstream from Corinna.
Spring time brings the best conditions for fly fishing on the meadow streams of the north and Midlands. If we get good rains there will be plenty of trout grubbing for worms and frogs along the flooded edges of the Macquarie, Break O'Day, South Esk and Meander River.
October/November - on these famous lowland streams also sees the very best hatches of red and black spinners. Again high levels are best, though good results often occur even when the flows moderate. Unlike the situation in the highlands, the onset of summer will spell the end of mayfly time on the meadows, so it pays to get in early. Fast water streams such as the North Esk, St Pats. Tyenna and the tributaries of the Huon will give up reasonable bags of fish to worm-casters and Celta enthusiasts, especially if levels remain moderate to low. However, these waters will not be at their best until summer/autumn.
Lure fishing in highland lakes
The Central Plateau will be much warmer than it was in August and September and the trout should be feeding in earnest. Nonetheless, many (most) days will be windy, overcast and far from tropical - ideal conditions for spinning and trolling. If you are a lure enthusiast get out there and fish hard - things are unlikely to be this good during summer (or even autumn.)
The best brown trout taken by trollers will be caught along the outer edges of marshes and flood plains. Among the best destinations are Lake Sorell, Lake Echo, Great Lake, Bronte Lagoon and Woods Lake. Rainbows will be returning from spawning and the hot spots for this species will be near the major lakes it is illegal to fish within a 50 metre radius of any major stream mouth - check the Fishing Code.
Its frog time! Wet fly enthusiasts will be looking for tails and bow waves in the marshes at Bronte Lagoon, Lake Echo, the Western Lakes, Lake Sorell and Woods Lake. Winter and early spring haven't been especially wet, and waters like Bronte have fallen below the tussock line. Nevertheless there are bound to be enough frogs about to get your blood up, and there is always the chance of heavy late-rains which might lift the lakes up into the extreme margins, creating ideal conditions for frenzy feeding.
Little Pine Trailers will be at their most reliable and prolific during October and November. Perhaps some of these fish will be feeding on frogs, but most will be preoccupied with tiny amphipods and will often be extremely hard to fool. Try to cover as many fish as possible rather than concentrating on just a few. Eventually you are bound to find one which is more bold than the others and is happy to swallow your nymph or wee wet. Dawn and dusk are best.
We are unlikely to revisit last year's red letter fishing at Great Lake - unless, of course, unexpected floods raise the lake to a new record high. However, there will be plenty of good fish cruising about the margins, as always.
Highland hatches and beetle falls
Burbury trout will be midging about all over the place. If you are a fly fishing enthusiast and you've never tried wind-lane fishing, now's the time to get a copy of Rob Sloane's Fly Fishing Fundamentals and take your dinghy over to Queenstown.
Cold frosty November mornings may also result in memorable midging activity at Dee Lagoon and Lake St Clair.
The first reasonable falls of gum beetles will probably occur early in November especially if, as predicted by most meteorologists, temperatures are above average. The Bradys chain of lakes, Dee Lagoon and Lake Echo will be among the earliest waters to benefit. Incidental mayfly hatches will occur at most waters throughout November, but don't expect any thing exciting until mid December.
This time of year is hardly the best for polaroiding - the sun is still relatively low on the horizon and the skies are often overcast - so most fly fishers will be looking for tails, swirls and rises. But, even if you are in a marsh, you may be surprised at how well you can see into the water. The only time I take my polaroids off is when I find myself identifying secretive tailers by the glint of their fins. I concede that under these conditions polaroids can be a distinct disadvantage. Mostly though, polaroids are a boon, allowing you to see fish which somehow cruise into the extreme shallows without disturbing the water at all. And when you chance a sunny day, you will often find that the trout stop tailing altogether and that polaroiding enables you to detect countless fish that would otherwise escape your notice. Although conditions for polaroiding will be better come high summer, I maintain that fishing action in spring is always more consistent for those who get used to polaroiding in low light.