Mersey River after the floods

Mersey River flooding, 2016

Mersey River after the floods

This time last year, the Mersey River was experiencing the most destructive flood in history. Houses were washed away, more than 300 cattle were lost, and the river set many new courses. So how did this affect the fishing this year?

Our first inspection post-flood, in August 2016, revealed an almost unrecognisable river in parts. Whole river bends were gone, and thousands of tonnes of gravel littered the adjacent farmland. But miraculously under the rocks, mayfly nymph and caddis crawled and scurried, survivors of the massive flood. The first few fish of the season also looked great–perhaps even a little fatter than normal, from the additional available feed.

By late spring the traditional run of whitebait had begun up the river, and both sea trout and resident trout began actively preying on the small fish. The odd mayfly hatch began, and somewhat normal conditions returned to the river. The biggest difference was consistency; while good fishing existing through the river, it was almost impossible to predict which riffle and run would have fish, or good fishing.

Mersey River Tasmania

A ripper Mersey River fish from Autumn 2017

Skip to post-Christmas, and the river was showing some great form. Polaroiding nymph feeders, and fishing to aphid sippers was steady, though a noticeable absence was the normally reliable willow-grubs. Whether this insect was impacted by the floods, or by the unseasonable cold winter, it’s hard to know.

By late autumn the Mersey was almost back to itself – baitfish feeders smashing galaxia, and aggregations of nymphing brown trout in the riffles. Indeed our favourite riffle for the season was yielding catches of up to a dozen of fish, in the area the size of a dining room, on some of our custom tied nymphs during April.

From our experience, the Mersey has certainly been altered by the massive floods, and the best locations have changed, but the fishing is as great as ever.

The results of a two-fish in two casts for RiverFly customer Richard M.

30% off all all Simms waders, Scott fly rods and Lamson reels stock

RiverFly are clearing the decks for the new season, and are running a 30%-off sale on all Simms, Scott and Lamson. Discounts on any of these product lines are rare as hens teeth, and it is only available on existing stock. Specials include Simms G3 Guide waders, Scott Radian and Meridian, and Lamson Speedster reels. All specials can be viewed or purchased on our Specials page here http://riverfly.com.au/product-category/specials/

 

Autumn rod, reel and wader specials including Sage, Scott and Orvis.

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Each autumn we run specials on demo-rods, along with soon to be replaced rod and reel models. These are all available on our specials page here http://riverfly.com.au/product-category/specials/ and include the following:

Sage 3250 reels, 3250 spool (the best value reels getting around) at 20% off, Sage 4250 reel at 20% off, a ripper little creek rod in the Sage Approach 370-4 at 25% off (now $440).

Ex demo / display rods, current models, as new with full warranties etc, may have been grass-cast only. Scott Radian 1006-4 (10ft, 6wt), 907-4 and 908-4 at 30% off (now $875). Orvis Helios2 865-4 (one of our favourite all-round river rods), massive 40% off, now 749.95.

Looking for women’s waders, jackets and shirts? We’ve got plenty in stock from Patagonia and Orvis, at up to 50% off!

Check it all out here http://riverfly.com.au/product-category/specials/

Thanks, the RiverFly 1864 team.

‘Tasmania’ – fly fishing feature film by Todd Moen, Catch Magazine

During February 2017 we were lucky to host Catch Magazine Editor Todd Moen, for a week of filming. The goal was simple:  highlight some of the creek and Western Lakes fishing that makes our island so special. During the six days we got some amazing snowflake caddis hatches on the creeks, and some brilliant tailing on the lakes around our RiverFly Wilderness Huts in the Western Lakes.  Here is a short trailer for the film ‘Tasmania’…the full-length 18 minute feature is amazing.

Fly Fishing Tasmania – March hoppers!

March fly fishing has got off to a great start in Tasmania, with clear and warm days, and lots of terrestrials. Hoppers, willow grubs and free-drifting mayfly nymphs have been driving the river fishing, and the 1864 Mini-WMD Hopper and Ostrich Herl Nymph have been two of the best flies. The Esk rivers, Mersey, Tyenna and Meander have all been fishing very well.

Little Pine and Penstock have featured some brilliant mayfly hatches late in the day, with Shaving Brush style flies doing very well. Further off the beaten track and the Western Lakes have had some good midge hatches, and enough mayfly to keep the fish looking up. Juvenile baitfish, gum beetles and the first jassid falls of autumn have also kept the fish moving!

What’s new in-store: Checkout our specials page for some end of summer bargains, including rods, reels and women’s gear up to 50% off. http://riverfly.com.au/product-category/specials/

Image: RiverFly 1864 Western Lakes customer Dan L. hooked up to an evening tailer (pic by Peter Broomhall).

Western Lakes trout

Peter Morse casting day – Sunday 12 March 2017

RiverFly 1864 are excited to be hosting Australian fly fishing legend Peter Morse for a skills-development casting day on Sunday the 12th of March (8-4pm).

Peter is an International Federation of Fly Fishers Master Fly Casting Instructor Peter Morse, as well as a Sage fly rod and RIO ambassador. Both Simone (who is also a IFFF casting instructor) and I have learnt a lot from Peter over the years, and can highly recommend this session.

Particular areas of focus for this intermediate-level class will be:

  • The fundamentals of good casting
  • Dealing with the wind
  • Accuracy under all conditions
  • Casting further
  • Basic spey casting – both single and two-handed.

The day is limited to eight casters, so please contact us by email or phone to book your spot.

Thanks, Daniel Hackett

Peter Morse casting day pics-7

Five tips for chasing Western Lakes trophy trout

Five tips for chasing trophy trout in Tasmania’s Western Lakes, from the Western Lakes experts at RiverFly 1864:

Where: Headwater lakes offer anglers the best chance to chase trophy trout, offering low fish numbers, but endless food. What’s a headwater lake? Look for a lake with little or no inflow, and an insignificant outflow (a creek you can step across). This outflow should flow into a lake further down, rather than a major creek, to ensure low recruitment numbers.

The Pillians, Julians, Little Pine, Pine and Nive headwaters are all good locations.

What gear to use: A five or six weight fly rod is ideal, with a 10-16 foot leader depending on conditions. Finding trophy trout is hard enough, so don’t risk losing a chance with fine tippets. We prefer 3X tippet with a breaking strain of ~8lbs+. In terms of flies, the selection is simple. Either a big terrestrial (such as a 1864 WMD Hopper or Bruisers Bug) for shallow lakes, or a slow sinking nymph (our Woolly Caddis is a favourite) for deeper, sphagnum-edged lakes.

When: My favourite trophy hunting weather is a bright day (for good polaroiding), with a strong and warm north-westerly wind. This really gets the bugs and big trout moving. The second (slightly lesser) option are bright days with south-westerly, or easterly breezes. Thick bug activity is less likely during these conditions, but the often stable light allows for good polaroiding. Any day featuring terrestrials insects from November to early April can offer good trophy hunting conditions.

Guides tip #1: As with all Western Lakes fly fishing, cast to where the fish is going to be, not to where it is! This ensures that the presentation is ahead of the trout, and gives the best chance of a solid take.

Guides tip #2: When fishing the deeper, undercut-edged headwaters, work with a mate as a team. Position yourselves on either end of the bank, creating the best chance to spot the snout or tail of an edge-cruiser, and the ability to set a trap at either end of a beat.

Happy hunting! Daniel Hackett

RiverFly 1864 operates Tasmania’s only wilderness camp located in the Western Lakes / Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Chasing tails in the Western Lakes

Mid-season rundown from RiverFly 1864

The season so far…

Spring and early summer river fishing has been very dynamic. River levels were extremely reactive to rainfall (rising quickly), which meant taking each day as it comes from a fishing-planning perspective. With the extra flows and floods, the average fish size in the Mersey and Meander was bigger than previous seasons, with some real thumpers being landed. The South Esk has had high levels right up until Christmas, with a new cohort of young fish up to 2lbs working small black spinners and damsels most days, and some beautiful clean gravel runs created since the high flows of winter. Our best flies included our French Nymph variant, and Chartreuse Caddis nymph, followed by the Fastwater Dun.

The small streams of the north-east are in the middle of the best season since 2013, with fish numbers back up to the usual high numbers. The big winter floods have restructured some of these small streams beautifully, lengthening the best pools by consolidating  smaller log jams that were previously found every ten metres or so, into single log jams and associated riffles every thirty metres or so. Snowflake caddis have generated terrific hatches, and it’s been dry fly all the way! Our favourite flies have been the Scruffy (size 12) and Glister-bodied Parachute Coachman (size 14). The St Pats, North Esk, South Esk, Ringarooma and tributaries have all been excellent destinations, and fish in the 12-16 inch range are most common.

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The lakes of the Central Plateau are looking great, and almost un-recognisable compared to this time last year. Great Lake has filled something like seven-metres, and nearly all other Hydro Lakes spilled over winter. Beetle falls have driven the fishing on-and-off since early November, with mayfly nymphs and hatches also becoming prominent by early December. Little Pine and Great Lake are both having good seasons for fish condition, and the Ostrich Herl nymph has proved deadly on Penstock and the Pine. Arthurs is still sporadic, but producing some excellent quality fish to those willing to walk the edges and cover some ground.

The Western Lakes were equally wet, with early spring water levels experienced up to the first week of December. This led to an excellent and lengthy frog season, but delayed the mayfly season from a normal mid-November start, to an early December start. The Nineteen Lagoons has been predictably popular, with the lakes and lagoons of the Little Pine River system performing the best to date. The road to the Julian Lakes is expected to open close to Australia Day, conditions permitting, and the Talinah track is currently open.

Fishing from our wilderness huts in the Western Lakes has featured all the weather imaginable, from balmy blue sky days through to snow. Some unusually large fish in the main lakes have been quite exciting (up to six pounds), but have proved hard to land amongst rocks and rushes. The younger year-classes have ranged from 2 ¾ to 4lbs, a great size. The random mixtures of frogs, beetles and midge on the menu has made fly selection has been quite variable, but one of our big terrestrial dries has been really successful (it’s a bit of a prototype we’ve worked on for a couple seasons), as has the Pheasant Tail Black Spinner, and Fuzzle Buggers fished to tailers in the waves. We can’t wait to host head to a new water that we’ve discovered a few kilometres from camp, after recently locating a sneaky shortcut to get there.

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A leaping Western Lakes brown trout, polaroided 400 metres from RiverFly Wilderness Huts. Pic by J Laverty.

An extra positive from our wilderness camp this season has been the increased presence of Tasmanian devils this year! With several sightings and lots of scats around camp, guide Greg French should have known better than leave is wading boots out at night. The inquisitive devils certainly appreciated the offering, pinching a boot, which has not been seen again!

Predictions for summer and autumn 2017

River and lake levels are great, and predictions of a mild summer and autumn gives anglers heaps of options. The north-east streams will be our pick for the best river destinations, given the excellent caddis and mayfly hatches to date, and the general excellent state of the waterways. Lots of juvenile grasshoppers are also out and about along the meadow-streams, and given the fortnightly rainfalls currently, conditions have so far been excellent for a late, bumper hopper season. There’s nothing we love more than sight-fishing big hopper dries on the rivers!

Continued mayfly hatches, and consistent terrestrial falls should drive the fishing on the Central Plateau, and continued muggy weather will start to produce some brilliant daylight tailing on clouded days. Little Pine should continue to fish well, and Great Lake windlane ‘sharks’ will become more established.

Big fish love beetle falls, so we’ll also plan to hunt trophies from our wilderness Western Lakes camp as weather permits during January and February, along with focusing on the bread and butter dry-fly sight fishing that forms the mainstay of our wilderness trips. Contact us if you would like to join a trip.

Thanks for reading, and have a great 2017, from Daniel and Simone Hackett, and the RiverFly 1864 team.

Guided fly fishing, tuition, and destination flyshop – Sage, Scott, Patagonia, Simms and Buff dealer

Fly Fishing Tasmania Hatch Chart – 23 December 2016

Here’s our last Hatch Chart for 2016! With a ripper weather pattern on its way, we hope that you all get out for a fish during the Christmas Break. Thank you to all of our customers, and we look forward to seeing you in 2017. Daniel & Simone, Peter and the RiverFly 1864 Team.

Christmas / New year shop opening times:

Closed 24-27th December

Open 28-30th December

Normal opening hours from January 3rd

Fly Fishing Tasmania Hatch Chart

Fly Fishing Tasmania Hatch Chart

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