Tasmanian trout fishing – fishing like it’s 1959

Stewarton on the middle Macquarie River, in flood.

Stewarton on the middle Macquarie River, in flood.

The 09/10 Tasmanian trout fishing season is well and truly underway, with huge rainfalls and flood-fishing in the northern midlands being a major highlight. Winter rainfalls in Northern Tasmania have broken various records, with a record wet in July, and above average falls already landing during August. The result has been flood fishing opportunities never experienced by many; the type of fly fishing that David Scholes made famous, but the type of fly fishing that’s only been a rarity over the past five or more years of drought. Hitting the flooded margins at the right time can be a hit and miss affair, but worth the effort.

As I type, there are flood warnings current for the Macquarie, South Esk, North Esk and Meander Rivers. As these rivers again breach their banks, trout will scoot over the edge and on to the paddocks, where they’ll forage for worms and beetles. Hitting the rivers just as they break their banks and cover fresh ground is the key.  The ideal backwaters and flooded margins will have little or no flow. Water that is too high, or high for too long (three or more days) are very much less than ideal. Tonight, the Lower Macquarie and the South Esk around Longford should be peaking – this will be a good time to have a look. The Meander is an example of a river that’s too high (too much water between the fish), while the North Esk is an example of a river that’s dropping – again less than ideal.

Fat flood-feeder on the earthworm fly

Fat flood-feeder on the earthworm fly

The results of the floods over the past three weeks have been trout, grown fat on a fresh diet of drowned terrestrials. RiverFly guide Patrick Horan has had evenings of a dozen fish or more on the margins of the South Esk, while RiverFly’s first guest of the season, Mischa, beat uber-flood conditions yesterday to land three fat creek fish among  flooded headwaters—all were polaroided, with two taking an earthworm imitation I pinched borrowed from Pat Horan’s fly box a few days before.

 
My final words are these—get out in the rain, and enjoy the flood-fishing opportunities. Party like it’s 1959, when David Scholes and co were flood fishing the Macquarie and Lake rivers; conditions are every bit as good as they’ve ever been.

Patrick Horan joins the RiverFly Team

Patrick Horan, preparing for an R&D day

Patrick Horan, preparing for an R&D day

Some great news for RiverFly guests is the recruitment of Patrick Horan to the RiverFly Tasmania team.  Patrick was head-hunted by RiverFly in 2008, and since then has been serving a guiding apprenticeship of sorts with RiverFly founder Daniel Hackett; as expected, Pat has taken to guiding like a duck to water. This is no surprise-Patrick has been teaching fly fishing Adult Education classes for more than four years with the Fly Fishers Club of Tasmania, and was a junior Tasmanian fly casting champion when Daniel met him almost a decade ago. Patrick is an excellent photographer, and an even better fly tier; you’ll find Daniel pilfering his innovative parachute hackles and hopper patterns most days their guiding together.

One thing to point out is Patricks local knowledge: it wasn’t too many seasons ago that Daniel was talking to Pat about a new, favourite secret spot; Pat replied with ‘yeah, I know the spot, I’ve been fishing it for a few seasons now’.  You can find more about Patrick on the RiverFly Guides page.