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.

tasmania-jan-2016-josh-hutchins-3554low-res

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 – searching for tailers

Tailing trout, or tailers’ as we like to call them, are the number one target for September. They can be bloody hard – spooky, head in the weeds, and fickle, but they make up for it by the visual nature of the fishing. Swirls, tails, and fins all giving away the position of these shallow water browns. As the month progresses and spawning frogs get onto the menu, tailers get easier to catch. Morning is my favourite time to fish, with fish still in the shallows from the night before, but evenings can be just as good. Just tie on a Woolly Caddis, snail pattern, or even a favourite dry, and start searching for nervous water.

A nearby lagoon, RiverFly Wilderness Huts, Tasmania.

A nearby lagoon, RiverFly Wilderness Huts, Tasmania.

 

RiverFly Wilderness Huts – Western Lakes Tasmania

After 3 1/2 years of hard work and planning, we are excited to announce that we will be opening RiverFly Wilderness Huts in October 2012!

RiverFly Wilderness Huts are located adjacent to the famous Western Lakes & Walls of Jerusalem National Park / World Heritage Area.
The hut project has been a massive project for us, and is the first project of its kind in Tasmania to combine wilderness fly fishing and conservation. Of this we are extremely proud. This outcome means that for every customer that visits RiverFly Wilderness Huts, a slice of Tasmania is protected forever.
Here is a link to the webpage and further details http://riverfly.com.au/riverfly-wilderness-huts/ . Keep an eye on our newsletter and blog for more information, and we are taking bookings now.
Thanks, Dan and Simone Hackett.

Riverfly Western Lakes Huts Panorama

Western Lakes campouts – sustainable eco-tourism into the future

UPDATE May 2012: RiverFly Wilderness Huts are now open!Click Here to find out more.

Season 2010/2011 will again see RiverFly Tasmania running our Western Lakes Campouts. In 2009, RiverFly became the first fly fishing business licenced by Parks and Wildlife Tasmania to operate in the Western Lakes. This is something we are very proud of.

This licensing ensures that our guides operate to environmental, operational and safety management plans. Key features of these plans include:

• Minimising environmental impacts.

• Alleviating any conflict with other anglers – part of our Operational Plan was created to ensure that we bypass any waters being fished by other anglers, as a measure of courtesy.

• As a key requirement of our Safety Management Plan, all campouts are run with two guides.

In addition to these rigorous management plans, our formal licencing requires a small payment back to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania for administration and park management costs.

RiverFly Tasmania are proud to be leading the way in sustainable, licenced fly fishing operations in the World Heritage Area / Western Lakes.

How are our current camps run?

Our current camps depart from Lake Ada, where we commence on foot to Talinah Lagoon, and onwards into the greater Christys Creek Area. The greater Christys Creek area, along with the Pillans / Julians are the only two areas within the Western Lakes that licenced commercial operators are allowed to camp (as per the World Heritage Area Management Plan).

Our campsite was chosen after weeks of exploration and site assessments in 08/09, followed by on-site consultation with Parks and Wildlife managers. We did not take this process lightly, and it was worth the effort: our site is visually hidden from other anglers, and away from popular trout waters and foot traffic. This ensures privacy for all anglers in the area.

Our typical camps consist of 3-4 traditional hiking tents, with Trangia and gas burners used for cooking. All of our food is fresh, and carried in for the trip. Of course, all waste is carried back out, along with any other rubbish found during our tips. To date we have also carried out nearly a dozen additional cans and bottles left as litter over the years by other careless users.

As per the regulations of the World Heritage Management Plan, all of our camps are restricted to a maximum of 6 anglers. However, RiverFly goes one step further and restricts its campouts to a maximum of 4 customers.

During season 09-10 we were fortunate to spend more than 35 nights camping-out in the Western Lakes. We only encountered seven other anglers (whom by coincidence were all found fishing the same lake at various times!). In addition, we were able to co-ordinate assistance for one elderly bushwalker who was injured on the track between Christys Lagoon and Lake Antimony, with a storm front approaching.

Environmental Best Practice and managing our Environmental Impact into the future

As an eco-tourism business working in a delicate World Heritage Listed environment, we are always looking at ways of decreasing any potential environmental impacts, whilst continually improving our customer experience. To achieve this, RiverFly Tasmania has submitted an application to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania to install a seasonal toilet pod and temporary tent platforms at our secluded location.

Whether its commercial or recreational, two of the possible impacts from any camping relates to the trampling of delicate flora around campsites (particularly under tents), and issues relating to the disposal of human and grey-water waste. These are both areas that RiverFly Tasmania is looking to minimise, and manage to World’s Best Practice.

To do its part and minimise impacts, RiverFly Tasmania is planning to install seasonal tent platforms. These platforms will only be on-site  for the season, and would mean that our tents don’t sit-on or smother any plant life in the area. Such platforms are already used by Parks Tasmania to minimise impacts on the Overland Track and Walls of Jerusalem National Parks, and by private operators in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, South West WHA and Maria Island National Park.

To manage human waste, and any contaminated water from dish-washing, RiverFly is also applying to install a small toilet-pod at the secluded campsite. This would mean that all human waste and contaminated water would be flown-out and disposed of outside of the World Heritage Area, ensuring that we are protecting our delicate water courses into the future. It is planned that the toilet-pod would be emptied each May, after the close of the fishing season. This prevents any possible or perceived conflict between other users of the area and the short (30min) use of the helicopter.

As a final element of our proposal, RiverFly will be limiting the number of fly fishing campouts we run each season. From our plans we will be spending a realistic maximum of 70 days per season in the Western Lakes, with our fishing effort being spread across 30 or more waters. Considering that literally thousands of nights are currently spent by anglers in the Western Lakes, our real impact on visitation numbers in the area will be tiny—Lake Ada alone sees more than 900 angler days of use per season, to put things into perspective . This minimal-impact camp will provide  jobs for Tasmanian’s, increased awareness of the value of recreational fishing in the Western Lakes, and the opportunity for anglers to learn more about the fishing, flora, fauna and history of the Western Lakes.

The camp approval process

Our application is currently with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, and is being assessed through a process called the Reserve Activity Assessment. This assessment ensures that all aspects of the World Heritage Management Plan are met by the proposal. As part of this formal process, public consultation will occur, which will be run in partnership between Parks and Wildlife Tasmania, and RiverFly Tasmania.

Upon a successful final approval, RiverFly will enter into a contract with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. This would see our business pay a commercial lease back to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania (and the Tasmanian people), which will then be used to manage our great National Parks and World Heritage Areas. This is a great example of how our small business can contribute directly back to the management of the Western Lakes for the future.

Re-enforcing the World Heritage Area values

As we work towards environmental best practice, there are a few things that we definitely won’t be doing:

1. We will not be applying to fly customers into the Western Lakes. We believe that one of the greatest parts of the Western Lakes fishery is the remoteness, and the need to use your own energy and initiative to get there. This remoteness and solitude is further protected by the WHA Management Plan, which actually prohibits the use of helicopters to take anglers in/out of the WHA.

2. We will not be building a private hut or lodge! One of the great enjoyments of our Western Lakes campouts is indeed the camping. In a world full of stuffy-office blocks and hotel rooms filled with recycled air, we can see the value and appeal of sleeping under the canvas. As such, our camp will remain as just that – a tent camp utilising tents for accommodation. To ensure these values are protected in the Western Lakes, the WHA actually prohibits the building of private huts or lodges in the World Heritage Area.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Daniel Hackett at RiverFly Tasmania.  Further details will be made available as assessed by Parks and Wildlife Tasmania. You can read testimonials, including those from campout customers here

RiverFly Tasmania fly fishing report – Autumn 2010

Wild Tasmanian hopper feeder
Wild Tasmanian hopper feeder

 

Gone Fishing…

 It’s been three months since our last fishing report, but with good reason: we’ve spent more than 50 days on the rivers since our last note, guiding through pre-Christmas red and black spinner falls, summer hopper hatches and the beginning of the autumn mayflies, and spent another 30 days out in the World Heritage Listed Western Lakes region, experiencing not only the sightfishing, but nature itself. We’ve found remnants of late 19th century grazing operations, old forgotten horse and cart tracks, not to mention a world of detailed minutiae: cushion plants and orchids, blue and red mountain hoppers, and ancient remnant pencil pine stands. 

 There have been many surprises this season, some owed in part to the end of the drought, some to new river venues, and some to our expanding Western Lakes Campouts. One common theme throughout them all has been constant: wild Tasmanian trout. Whether it’s been the super-conditioned trout of the Meander or lower Macquarie River, the flats cruising trout of the Western Lakes, or the hidden monsters of the fast-water river gorges, the aim of our days has revolved around core values of inspiring places, visual fishing opportunities and wild trout. If we can find these three goals, we know that the enjoyment of the day will take care of itself.  

 Current fishing report

 Autumn fishing has started in northern Tasmania, with large baetid mayfly falls on the lower Macquarie and Esk rivers, and ants appearing on humid days. This has created some classic match the hatch fishing, both from the raft and wading. Grasshoppers are still around and on the menu, and are proving effective at times–again, this has particularly been the case on the lower Macquarie River and a few of our other favourite haunts. The strong baetid hatches are expected to continue through March and April, to the close of the brown trout season at the start of May. 

 Summer highlights

 Summer highlights at RiverFly have been many and varied: young Rory sightfishing and landing a 4lb trout on the Meander, Frank and his six days of sight-fishing nirvana, high flows and great rafting on the post-drought Macquarie river, and the sight-fishing experience of the Western Lakes campouts with the three amigo’s Jappy, Mark and Curtis, the team of four Septuagenarians’, and many others. January was probably the best month of the season to date, with loads of blue-sky days, and early season hopper fishing. March could be a close contender to take the title though, especially if the ants and baetids keep on coming! 

Fishing Tips

1. When casting, always plan to present the fly ahead of the trout, rather than directly at it.

2. When practicing casting, focus on efficiency: learn to (1) cast line out quickly, (2) re-adjust casting length effectively, and (3) change casting directions smoothly.

 That’s all for now. If you have any questions about fishing in Tassie, don’t hesitate to Email us. Thanks from the RiverFly team–Daniel, Simone and Patrick. 

  

 Stay tuned to the RiverFly Blog for weekly updates and fishing reports.

Western Lakes Fly Fishing
Western Lakes Fly Fishing

       

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