Tasmanian trout fishing is a seasonal affair; here’s what to expect when fishing with RiverFly Tasmania.
August and September
August and september sees the season open. Everything from standard nymphs, right through to drowned earthworms and floating cockchafer beetles may be on the menu, depending on the variable conditons. Tailing trout are a famous event during September, with our favourite Brumbys Creek being a hotspot. If winter floods occur, we head to the headwater creeks which enable us to polaroid little creek fish, which we target with nymphs and earthworm patterns.
Hatches and events: Flood fishing to earthworm feeders, evening cockchafer beetle falls, nymphing trout.
Past season highlights. Tailing fish at Brumby’s creek during the day (proving extremely difficult) and cockchafer beetle feeders on evening to 3 3/4lbs. Polaroiding the small streams can also be exciting this time of year for targeting smaller creek fish. Other highlights from 2009/10 season was awesome flood fishing along the South Esk River basin, particularly on evening. Fish to three-pounds were landed.
October see’s the first of the major mayfly hatches giving rise to classic dry fly fishing on the rivers. Tailing trout are peaking at the same time. Fisheries such as the Esk rivers, the Macquarie, Meander and Mersey rivers are the first to feature these mayfly hatches. Sigh fishing is the focus.
October is also when we begin our Western Lakes campouts for the season, with frog-feeders and tailing trout the highlights.
Hatches: Red and black mayfly spinners, baetid mayflies, caddis, cockchafer beetles
Past season highlights. Diary entry from the 2nd week of October ‘Fished the first mayfly hatch of the season with Aaron Errington, walking the famed Macquarie river. Unbelievable fishing, arrived to find spent caenid mayfly, followed by a dun hatch and red spinner fall. 25 browns, about eight at 3lbs (50cm, 20inches) or better plus many broken off on the strike or in the thick weed. The Shaving Brush worked well.’
Early November sees good hatches dependent on prevailing conditions. All the mayfly and caddis species should be well and truly hatching by the end of November, along with more terrestrial beetle falls. This is my favourite month along with late March/April for classic dry fly fishing to risers.
Hatches: Four species of mayfly, most of the prevalent caddis species and three or more terrestrial beetles.
Past season highlights. Diary entry 15-17 November ‘Joel, a novice fly fisher, landed his first trout on the nymph followed by his first fish on the dry, polaroided and landed his first sight-fished trout and managed three fish in three casts. Learnt to tie a Red Tag and also caught a fish on this. The final day we polaroided a 3-4lb monster, fished to it for an hour or so, until it disappeared. It came to the fly three times with its mouth open, only for drag to kick in at the last minute each time! See write up and photos by Brad Harris in FlyLife magazine no. 44
Everything is fishing excellent by December, including the rafting destinations. The hatches of November have developed to become consistent, with the addition of dragonflies, damselflies and native bees being present.
Hatches: everything except hoppers! Mayflies, caddis, dragons and damsels, terrestrials
Past season highlights. Micro-caddis hatches on Brumby’s creek, with 3lb fish feeding on them in inches of water. Diary entry 9-12 Dec ‘3 clients (2 guides) had a ball for the 4 days of fishing mainly small creeks and rivers. Excellent fun and the clients were good company. The locations were half of the enjoyment, rainforest and mountain valley settings.’ Diary entry 22 December ‘ fished the river in front of the lodge during lunch on a day off, the fish were up high in the water sipping duns. Christened my new 586 SLT Sage rod and my new Glister Brush fly on an eighteen incher that I polaroided!
The array of hatches from December continues into mid to late January. Wading and rafting are both equally successful yet offer a great contrast in fishing. The last few weeks of the months see the mayflies start to dissipate until their return in mid to late February, while the fish start looking for juvenile hoppers – let the ‘hopper fishing fun begin!
Hatches: Terrestrials, Caddis, mayfly
Past season highlights. Polaroiding 2lb+ fish sipping duns in front of the lodge whilst platypus swam around our feet. Fishing the Brumby’s Creek flats for large selective browns from the raft. Diary entry 5 January ‘The client and I polaroided a large fish, perhaps 3lbs, sipping small duns from a foam line running along a grassy overhang. The cast was perfect, and the fish ate the fly – client struck way too early in anticipation though and missed it completely. Redemption came in the next pool however when the client made another excellent presentation to a rise, this time timing the strike perfectly and landing a 52cm, 21 inch 3lb+ brown, the biggest to come from the lodge river this season. Fishing to polaroided rising fish was the real highlight, regardless of whether we landed the fish in the end’
February sees the potentially explosive grasshopper induced fishing continue. Mid-February marks the start of the autumn mafly fishing, which continues through until April.
Hatches: Grasshoppers, mayfly, terrestrials
Past season highlights. Diary entry 9 Feb ‘Raised ten fish for two hours on the North Esk at the lodge using a hopper. Lots of wind which actually helped’. 10-13 Feb ‘ three days of excellent small stream fishing, small fish but lots of them. 16-20 Feb ‘ Rafted the Mac, Excellent hopper fishing. The 19th saw us land nine fish on the single dry, seven of which were over 2lbs, with the biggest in the weight net going 3 3/4lbs! This is as good as the Mac gets! Went to Brumby’s on the 20th and saw the biggest hatch I have ever seen of caddis. Three pounders everywhere, but almost impossible to catch due to the numbers of naturals on the water, it was unbelievable just to sit back and watch the organised chaos that mother nature presented for the day’.
A month that in a good year can produce world-class grasshopper and mayfly induced dry fly fishing.
Hatches: Grasshoppers were the major hatch for March 2006, but when they weren’t around, or began to slow, the fish switch to sipping duns!
Past season highlights. Diary entry 7-8 March ‘landed 12 on hoppers wading the South Esk, then 5 from 20-25 takes rafting the Macquarie the following day. The biggest was a three pound sipper on the Mac which was actually on a Black Spinner.’ Diary entry 19 March ‘Caught and released about 20 browns whilst wading ‘the secret run’, including the biggest of the season, a brown in excess of four pounds!’ Diary entry 25 March ‘Caught and released 12+ fish on hoppers wading. Julian got the big fish he was hoping for, a beautiful three pounder, and newbie Paul landed his first four fish ever – one was polaroided and another was three pounds!’ Though the numbers describe the action, the real highlight is the predominant sight fishing opportunities available in March and early April.
April fishing is generally great on the rivers, with classic mayfly fishing. Good sight fishing is often experienced until the last day of each season.
Hatches: The mayfly duns and ants are the highlights, lasting right through the month though becoming at times sporadic.
Past season highlights. Diary entry 8-10 April ‘We spent some time polaroiding a small rainforest creek, excellent fun. Followed this by wade fishing a larger river where we encountered a steady minor mayfly hatch. Classic dry fly fishing ensued, skilled clients managed plenty of fish from twice as many takes! Returned to the same spot the next day and my experienced single angler client landed a dozen or so again sight fished feeding on the duns.’ Diary entry 28th April ‘The fish in front of the lodge were feeding on nymphs in water shallow enough that you could make out their fins. Other fish were sipping spinners. The fish demanded a good presentation, so the riser we fooled was very satisfying, as was landing the fish we found swirling in the backwater’.
May has great river and lake fishing for rainbow trout as the brown trout season closes. Last year saw us polaroiding cruising rainbows for three days in a row, as they snaffled gum beetles and other terrestrisls off the top. May can also see the capture of the season’s biggest fish as lake fish move into the rivers, while the weather can feature beautifully settled days.
Hatches: Gum beetles, mayfly, chironomid and jassids
Past season highlights. 2008 – Stalking along the shores of a north western lake, chasing consistent sippers for three days straight. Rainbow and brown trout were the targets, averaging 1 3/4lbs, and reaching 4lbs. Excellent sight fishing with calm autumn weather. 2009 – Polaroiding a rainbow river, targeting trout up to 5lbs. The fishing was challenging, but visually exciting. Can’t wait for May to target these larger fish again!