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.