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Early option for Tassie trout
  |  First Published: August 2016



Well, things were looking very grim as we moved through autumn with record low lake levels across the state. But did we get relief in a big way! Sadly it was too much at once, causing major damage across the state’s water side infrastructure and even worse, no lake levels are worth more than a human life. Extreme flooding was the result of significant falls with close to 300mm falling in 24hr periods in many regions.

On the plus side, our lake levels are better for it and should offer some great fishing in the coming season right from the first Saturday in August. We’ll take a look at the places to head to in the early part of the season.

FOUR SPRINGS

This is easily one the better fisheries early season in Tassie. IFS have the management pretty much spot on, with the last few seasons producing some excellent fish and they are always in tremendous condition. Keep in mind the special regulations for this water. A slot size of 300-500mm for a five fish bag limit with two fish exceeding 500mm allowed. I’d recommend keeping just one or two fish though.

Drift spinning is very popular and brings excellent results. Any of your regular minnows will be good choices. A couple of top colours are red, gold and also trout patterns.

Fishing wet streamers also serves the fly anglers well. Your usual searching flies will do the trick, but you can’t go past the old Woolly Bugger.

LAKE LEAKE

There was a real concern that Lake Leake would possibly dry up this year if we didn’t receive rain. It had a huge change of fortunes, with the levels quite high by mid-winter. It’s most likely this will be one of the hot spots for the season ahead.

There is lots of newly covered ground that had been out of the water for a long time. There should be plenty of food for the local trout, and no doubt they will be in fantastic condition.

Once again, your hardbody minnows will fish well along with the searching wets on the fly. If we get good conditions weatherwise, Loch style fly fishing is worth a shot as we move forward. Soft plastics are also very successful too.

Tooms Lake

Further south the IFS have earmarked this one as the place to be. Water levels are high and the fish are in exceptional condition. A survey last season recorded fish largely in the 2kg bracket and up to an impressive 4.8kg!

Devotees kept Tooms pretty quiet last year with some excellent fishing happening. There’s no doubt that given the boost to water levels, it will add to some already very impressive fish.

I’ve always liked a touch of silver on lures out at Tooms. They seem to attract attention in its water. Galaxia feeders are the highlight for the lure anglers, and if you strike them on the right day you’ll have a lot of fun.

An impressive 420 adult browns were stocked here at the 1000gr mark in July, and I expect they will have grown by August given the massive amounts of food.

LAKE CRESCENT

It stands to reason that Crescent is going to be on the radar of most anglers this season, after all, the fish will only be bigger a year on. Like Tooms, the trout of Crescent thrive on the massive galaxia population. It’s little wonder the fish are huge and growing bigger every year. I’m tipping we’ll see the old school 20lb mark broken this year.

The inflows received up to 300mm, which will help with water quality. It’s going to be dirty still, but the strong inflows will continue to flush the suspended clay sediment through both Sorell and Crescent. We need a lot more water to see visibility similar to water the lakes had in the glory years prior to the carp forced closures. Despite the murky appearance, the fish still feed and feed well, and perseverance in the way of lots and lots of casting will find fish.

As for lure selection, go dark or go bright – you need to be seen. Also look for plastics with a good paddle-tail offering a lot of vibration. The same principal also applies for hardbodied lures, and a strong shimmy and a rattle won’t hurt either.

I think surface lures could also offer some exciting and visual fishing too. Just imaging a double figure fish hitting a surface lure twitched through the strap weed on the edge of a marsh… that would definitely get the heart going!

WOODS LAKE

This is probably the most consistent water in the state over the past five or six years. It continues to offer up exceptional trout in both numbers and condition. I can’t see it changing this year either.

Trolling and spinning with hardbodies and soft plastics are very successful, and so is fly fishing under certain conditions. Early season big wets, while not visually stimulating, will bring high reward.

PENSTOCK LAGOON

Penstock is another of the strong performers, and while it’s incredibly popular, it will always be a consistent water. Good fish in great condition are common, but expect it to be popular early in the season.

GREAT LAKE

At the start of May it was all but impossible to even launch a boat here. In the nine weeks following it had added 2.8m of water to the levels and is still rising. The fishing will be excellent. Shore-based anglers should fare well and from the boat I would still be targeting the banks.

The trout should be up on the newly flooded ground. Black and gold colours will work well, both in hardbodied lures and plastics. Big wets again will work well, but casting to cruising fish in the shallows will be a real option.

All boat ramps are once again open for use and the whole lake can be accessed. Please exercise care while navigating, as it won’t be the same as it was last time you were on last time. The low levels pre-winter saw many hazards across the lake, making it very unsafe for those that could get out on the water.

The Great Lake is very open an exposed to weather and wind, but you can use this to your advantage. The wind swept shores will offer the best fishing generally, with the waves stirring up all manner of food along the banks.

Casting toward the shore and retrieving back to the boat will bring success. Soft plastics can be very effective too, especially hopping them down from the shallows into the depths. Fishing plastics deep over the many weed beds that cover the lake floor is a very successful technique as well. Getting right down close to the weed is the key.

LAKE KING WILLIAM

While it will fish well, the best of the fishing may have been missed. Generally this place fishes exceptionally well as water levels rise through spring. In May King William had risen an astonishing 12m in eight weeks, with even more added since. Luckily, it’s not full just yet prior to the season opening, so keep an eye on it as when it floods back into the undergrowth the fishing is nothing short of amazing. Granted, the fish aren’t big, but it’s at this time you’ll find the better ones. The bonus is there are plenty of them. My last four trips there have returned a minimum of 50 fish a day between two anglers.

The Guelph Basin offers up some fantastic fishing opportunities with its many long arms and a variety of shorelines from rocks to grassy flats. You’ll find the fish in here in most places. Just look for a pattern, follow it and apply to the other shores in the lake.

Wind and wave action will make for some stirred up dirty water and these will be the hotspots. Bringing lures through the dirty water to the clear will bring a flurry of action. Most lures will work, but anything with a bit of black and gold in particular will bring the best results.

The top end of the lake is also very good at high levels. Navarre Inlet can be great and the large expanses along the eastern shore offer some good opportunities fishing the points and bays. Fishing tight to the shores is the key. The tree stands are also very much worth a look, and fishing in 2-4m depths is usually the best option here.

BRADYS CHAIN

Bradys, Binney and Tungatinah – These waters usually fish well early season. Several stockings of adult fish have occurred over the offseason at around the 1kg mark and better. Lure anglers fare well in all three lakes at this time. Once again, drift spinning will bring the best results, but trolling is popular and offer reward. Working the shorelines is the best bet. Try to find broken ground with an undulating bottom, and give the points extra attention.

TYENNA RIVER

This is always popular straight from the first weekend and the opening months of the season offer the best results. Regular anglers favour a raised water level and higher flows as this brings the big fish out and it’s the reason most visit the small river.

Soft plastics are the go to lure here. The big fish though aren’t easy to catch and it takes time to learn the correct tactics. Take note of everything you do and learn the system and its fish. The big rewards will come.

DERWENT RIVER

I personally can’t speak highly enough of the Derwent in the early season. There is no better fishing to be had in my mind. Superb sea-run trout from 500g-2.5kg are regular with even bigger fish scattered between. I’ve talked about the Derwent plenty of times before, and it goes without saying that there’s no need to head to the highlands in August with plenty of fish right on Hobart’s doorstep. Channels edges, drop-offs and an outgoing tide; remember those key ingredients for a successful day on the river.

With the big rainfalls and flooded river, the sea-runners are already on the move. The lower reaches from Bridgewater Bridge to Store Point were giving up good fish in July as those keen enough were already trying the luck. Shore-based fishing is dynamite and more often than not finds the better fish.

Off the shore, soft plastics are very reliable, and much cheaper to lose than an expensive hardbody. Your go to lures are again the usual favourites in bait fish colours. Anything with a silver flank and green, olive or brown back should find results.

Plastics are best cast out into the current slightly upstream. Engage the bail arm to keep contact with the jighead and let it drift down, imparting a twitch as you slowly beginning to retrieve, then work it back along the bank to your position.

A pair of waders or wading boots are a huge advantage, as you can then fish all the way back to your feet. Plus you can walk out in front of the many reed-lined shores, and these edges are also hunting grounds for the trout when the whitebait begin to show.

Lamprey eels run early in the season and swim on the surface and mid river. Big swirls from hungry trout are tell-tale signs of feeding activity and are generally seen at first light until sunrise, but can extend much longer in the right conditions. A Large 4-6” plastic is the perfect lure to target these fish.

Trolling anglers are best concentrating on the long stretches from Bridgewater to Norske Skog paper mill below New Norfolk. Running a flat line and a deep line mix is the key. Tassie Devils are the pick of the lures, as there is weed present at all times and it’s very difficult to see when it fouls a hardbody’s hooks. You won’t catch fish with weed on your hooks.

Baitfish colours work well, like #103, 108, 13 and 107. Brighter colours like #75, 102 and the new Spotted Dog also excellent with the #75 superb trolled on leadline. Look for 3-3.6m depth for best results.

Drift spinning is the way to go if you want good hard-fighting sea-run trout from the boat. Work the channel edges along the reeds and expansive flats. Fishing an outgoing tide will bring the best results. The fish fight hard and eat very well.

It’s always worth keeping one or two silvery sea-run trout for the table, with their bright orange fillets very appealing.

It was not looking like the trout season would be overly successful in Tassie, and not for the fishing itself. It was more the general feeling in the angling community with the extremely low water levels and it appeared no end in sight. Even an average winter’s rainfall wasn’t going to offer that much relief. But the rainfalls we received have buoyed spirits and it looks highly likely that the season ahead will be very good.

Get out there and support your local tackle stores and spend your dollars locally. Hopefully the trout season ahead is as prosperous as the saltwater scene was this past summer and autumn.

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