RiverFly Tasmania fishing report April 2009
David Scholes and the modern-day hatch
David Scholes was (and is still regarded as) one of Australia’s most revered fly fishing authors. He wrote of fly fishing in Victoria and Tasmania during the 1950’s and 60’s, which were considered to be among the halcyon days of these fisheries: little or no fishing pressure, plenty of water, and many new fisheries to be explored.
Reading through David’s classic Fly Fisher in Tasmania (1961), there’s stories of rivers, hatches and fishing with mates, but for me, it is a story of one memorable ‘hatch’ that stands out–a unique army caterpillar fall on the North Esk River. From Fly Fisher in Tasmania:
‘One day stands alone on the broken rivers–the day I found the Army Caterpillars on the North Esk. I had witnessed this rare event previously, but never with such startling results…I would like you to hear about this extraordinary tale. Friday was the last day of December 1954 and began with a clear warm sunny morning and little wind…about nine o’clock, we broke out of the willows into a more open and sunny section. Then and there I beheld the first part of a spectacle I had never seen before, nor have I seen since…The bend I looked into was high on our side, curving away to our left, but for as far upstream as I could see, the whole pool seemed alive with rising trout…At first we were spellbound by the size of the trout, some being absolute whales of five or six pounds.’
In this story, David was speaking of the largest caterpillar fall he had fished, a ‘hatch’ that featured armies of paddock-munching caterpillars migrating to an isolated stretch of river, where they proceeded to climb off over-hanging tussocks and onto the water, not unlike lemmings from a cliff. These caterpillars float, making them an irresistible prey item, while their sheer numbers are enough to bring even the biggest fish up from the deepest pools–exciting stuff indeed.
How does this link to our modern-day fishing? This year I was lucky to guide two groups onto two different army caterpillar falls on our broken rivers – the St Patricks and the North Esk rivers.
Brian and his son Nick experienced the first caterpillar migration during January on the St Patricks River, where trout’s bellies hung like under-slung saddle-packs, disgorged with the floating prey almost 54 years to the day after David Scholes experience his own North Esk hatch. Later in the season, and more recently, the Sloan group of first-timers from Victoria also experienced a migration of caterpillars on the North Esk river, leading to an almost three-pound trout for Jennie in her first hour of fly fishing ever! I wonder if it was on the same stretch that Scholes’ fished all those years ago?
These hatches were great events, with a significant demonstration for us to take note of. Though our fisheries may be effected by climate change, over-allocation of irrigation rights and increased pressure, there is still so much left to protect and enjoy–hatches that would make the lad’s of the halcyon days giddy with excitement are still a reality, and the glass is half-full; let’s do our best to keep it that way.
March and early April 2009 fishing report
March is typically my favourite month to fish, but this past month was best described as sporadic. In Launceston rainfall was at a 25-year high for the month, which meant that plenty of frontal systems crossed through the state – these days were hard for fishing, while the preceding humid days prior to the arrival of a front was good for baetid and ant falls. Unfortunately, whilst we did have good hopper action, the increased rain and greener paddocks led to a shortened hopper season.
In summary, a dozen excellent ant and baetid days were experienced, along with a couple of solid hopper days. The highlight fisheries for the month were the Lower Macquarie (ants, baetids), St Patricks (hoppers, baetids) and the Mersey rivers (ants).
Fishing predictions for late April and May 2009
Winter feels like it is arriving early this year, so the fishing will be primarily reliant on baetids for the rest of the season. Ants will be an option on the warmer days, and on the rainbow waters into May, gum beetles and midge will be the key hatches.
We offer discount guiding during May on the rainbow waters, with most days focusing on high-bank polaroiding some favourite lowland lakes, and a bit of nymph-fishing on the rainbow trout rivers. Contact us if you would like a day or two on the water at these discount rates www.riverfly.com.au/contact .
*RiverFly Fly Tying Classes – winter courses*
This winter we will be holding fly tying classes for beginners and experienced tiers. Consisting of six evening-sessions, these courses are being built around the fly selections we use for guiding, many of which are featured in our In Season Tasmania coffee-table book. We will also be featuring a few secret patterns that produce the goods during the hard times!
Much of the tying will focus on the little tips and tricks that make the major difference to the quality of your flies, the time it takes to tie them, as well as their fish-catching abilities.
Class dates for Launceston are about to be released, with a maximum of six persons per class. Register your interest by E-mailing me now www.riverfly.com.au/contact
If you live in the North-West, Hobart, or anywhere else for that matter, and have a few mates or fishing club that would like to form a class, we’d also love to hear from you–we aim to offer classes to all that would like to learn.
To register interest in our fly tying classes, please Email me at www.riverfly.com.au/contact
Fishing Tip 2: When spooling your reel with a new line, make sure you unroll the line from the spool, rather than pulling it off sideways: the later will result in a series of permanent twists in your line
The Source Tasmania dvd–Release date July 2009–pre-order now
If you can’t make it to a showing of The Source–Tasmania during the national Rise Fly Fishing Film Festival this winter, you can pre-register for a copy now www.riverfly.com.au/contact. Check out our blog (webdiary) entry for more details on this awesome high-definition dvd, due for release in June 2009. www.riverfly.com.au/blog .
That’s all for this month’s report. If you are reading this fishing report via our blog (webdiary), remember that the tech-savvy among you can subscribe via RSS. If you are receiving this report via Email, feel free to pass it on to your friends using the Forward tab below.
Happy Easter from Daniel, Simone and the RiverFly Tasmania team.