It’s mayfly time..

The mayfly season has started with small hatches on the Macquarie, South Esk and North Esk rivers…

Changeable spring days have been stiffling the hatches, but the red spinners are showing, along with beatids, during warmer muggy days. Flying ants have also been on the menu, along with lots of mayfly and stonefly nymphs. Thirty percent of fish are now coming to dry flies.

In the highlands, Arthurs Lake is fishing well for tailing trout as water floods into new tree and sag-covered grounds, and the Nineteen Lagoons region of the Western Lakes is at perfect levels for tailing trout. Snow is predicted on the mountains for Friday and Saturday, but Sunday could be perfect for finding fish covering new ground.

RiverFly Tasmania season opening day 2010/2011 newsletter

Fly Fishing Tasmania

Wild fisheries on the rise… 

Over the past couple of seasons, mates and I have been exploring fisheries that barely see a person. We’ve explored the Mersey and Meander rivers from top to bottom, waded up and down the southern rivers and rainforests, and explored even more of the Western Lakes area. All of these fisheries are bucking the Australia-wide trend of disastrous impacts from drought and climate change, and have become a shining light in the future of the fisheries I work among. 

The Mersey and Meander rivers in northern Tasmania now have legislated environmental flows for the first time in their histories; hatches are developing with vigour, the average size of the wild trout in these rivers is on the increase, and the fisheries themselves are becoming more consistent, and more predictable. Rainfall in these catchments has decreased, but better resource management has countered any effects, and the fisheries are beginning to achieve their potentials.  

Down south there has been some positive flow-on effects from climate change. A decrease in annual rainfall throughout southern Tasmania has made the big rainforest rivers more accessible to wading and fishing, whilst pressure on the logging industry has led to increased public access to our forests, and our rivers. The excellent brown trout fisheries we’ve found along these river systems has raised more than a few eyebrows in surprise.

Equally, better environmental management along the Derwent River has led to the re-birth of another major fishery. Drastically improved environmental impact management from heavy industry along the urban sections of the river have seen remarkable changes such as whales swimming through Hobart, but more significantly for fly fishers, sea-run and resident trout populations have begun to flourish. Sight-fishing to large sea trout along the estuary and lower sections of river is now a year-round prospect, complete with annual ‘hatches’: lampreys, glass eels, crabs, isopods, amphipods and the whitebait runs all create feature hatch-driven fishing events. 

And then there’s Tasmania’s perennial wilderness fishery, the World Heritage Listed Western Lakes region. This fishery thrives on seasonal wet and dry periods, fluctuations that inundate new ground, providing fresh flushes of food for the wild brown trout, and dry periods that restrict spawning and recruitment to headwater trophy fisheries. This fishery is as healthy as ever. 

Thanks for letting us share the good news stories with you!

Now available: Fly Cards book by Daniel Hackett, and Western Lakes Limited Edition print

After three months of hard work, Fly Cards has arrived back from the printers this week. It’s been more than a decade since Australian’s have had a fly tying book of their own, and a lot has changed in that time: we’ve seen the beginnings of a generational change in in fly tying. Foam products are now an integral part of fly tying, U.V. reflective materials have opened up a new school of thinking, and the transplanting of British loch-style fly fishing techniques to Tasmania has lead to the development of our own specialised loch-style flies. In Fly Cards I was able to represent these new materials, techniques and styles, and also cover their origin and history. We hope that Fly Cards stands testament to the beginning of a new chapter in Australian fly tying history. Fly Cards is available now from our webshop


Fly Cards by Daniel Hackett


To create our Western Lakes artwork, our second new product for 2010, we commissioned third-generation Western Lakes fisherman Clifford How to capture the unique pencil pine’s of the plateau, and the historically important trapper’s huts that now provide shelter and inspiration to fly fishers. Inspiration for the pencil pines and dolerite scree depicted in the artwork came from those found on the islands of the Lunka Lake system. These island outcrops of centuries-old trees are testament to the fire protection that these lakes have provided since their glaciated inception. Junction Lake hut plays the role of muse for the cryptic trappers hut sketched in charcoal, complete with the ‘RRR’ branded timbers that represent the makers mark found on many huts in the area. The wild trout of the artwork is pictured with the vivid golds of the brown trout found in the region, a colour made ever more vibrant by a diet rich in shrimp and crustaceans.Western Lakes limited edition print is available now from our webshop.

Opening Day fishing report

Opening day in Tasmania was last weekend, with lots of reports coming in. I had a great day of guiding on the Derwent for fresh sea-run brown trout, an experience echoed by a lot of lure fishermen over the weekend. The current run is mainly 2-4lb trout, but larger fish will begin to follow the whitebait up the estuary within the next few weeks.

The South Esk is looking excellent after some cleansing winter floods, and is now running high and very clear. The Meander also had one good winter flood, and things are set up perfectly for the start of the late September, spring mayfly hatch. The upper Macquarie River (which began a recovery from drought last year) has featured high winter flows, and with one more good rain event, we should see the headwater dam (Tooms Lake) overflow and flood the river for the second year running. This is great news. Tooms Lake itself is fishing well.

In the Central Highlands, Penstock and Little Pine lagoons produced the best fishing for trout to 4lbs, whilst Great Lake was a bit slow off the mark. The Western Lakes are still frozen, with daytime temperatures peaking at a mere 2 degrees last weekend!

Mayfly Hatches and dry fly fishing – only 40 days, and counting…

With the season now underway, it’s less than 40 days (and counting) till the spring mayfly hatches and dry fly fishing gets underway. After a second consecutive wet winter, the northern rivers are looking primed for a big year of mayfly. Send us an Email if you would like to book in for a couple days break away from the city. For those pressed for time, we can pick you up from an early morning flight into Launceston, and drop you off for the late evening flight back to Melbourne or Sydney: tickets are often cheaper than the alternative cost of driving to the Snowy Mountain’s or North Eastern Victoria!



Custom Trout flies tied-to-order

Just a quick reminder to everyone that tied-to-order flies are available from our webshop. Orders are dispatching in 7-8 days currently. New patterns that I am tying include our MK2 Fuzzle Bugger, the Claret Dabbler, and The Earthworm.

That’s all for now. We hope you all have a great season in 2010/2011, and feel free to pass this newsletter on: word-of-mouth is the cornerstone of our successful business.

Thank you from the RiverFly Team – Daniel, Simone & Patrick.

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


RiverFly Tasmania fly fishing report – September 2009

Trout Fishing like its 1959… 

Tasmanian trout, polaroided and landed by RiverFly guests August 2009

Tasmanian trout, polaroided and landed by RiverFly guests August 2009

 Earlier in the month I wrote a blog (online diary) entry titled fishing like its 1959’. Back when Australian fly fishing author David Scholes’ was fishing the Tasmanian streams, early-season flood fishing was the first event of the year, followed by the classic mayfly hatches of spring Show Day. Well, for the first time in my 8 year guiding career, we’ve started the season with classic Scholes-esque flood water feeders, gorging on drowned worms and grubs, and it looks like the best mayfly season in decades is about to hatch.

 About 6 years ago, myself and my friend Aarron fished our first major hatch on the upper Macquarie River. This river, and its mayfly hatches, were made famous by the writings of David Scholes earlier in the 50’s and 60’s. The day of our first hatch was magical–morning ceanid mayflies greeted us, large red spinner duns hatched at lunch, and giant red spinners fell on evening. We landed 22 fish, 8 over two pounds, and lost the biggest few fish of the day, perhaps up to 5lbs in weight. All of this took place on a section of river less than a cast wide, with lovely grassy undercuts sheltering the wild browns as they sipped mayfly from the current seams, and weedy runnels. These hatches continued through until late November, when water levels dropped, and we moved on to the larger rivers and their later pre-Christmas hatches.

 The following year I again fished the upper Macquarie, found some good hatches over two weeks or so, but didn’t achieve any once-in-a-lifetime red-letter days. A further season on and I managed to fish one solitary hatch during the making of In Season Tasmania, but by that November water levels were too low, the paddocks were parched, and the only thing cruising were starving tiger snakes and the odd redfin perch. The frogs were quiet, the mayflies in remission, and the water had turned an algal brown. Five years of drought had taken its toll, and the fishery was on life-support.

 But now there is great news. For the first time in many, many years, I’ll be fishing the spring mayfly hatches on rivers such as the upper Macquarie. The drought has been broken by the third biggest wet in a century, with the east coast of Tasmania receiving more than 700mm of rain over winter. The rivers have been flushed, the headwater soaks and springs replenished, and the mayfly are ready to go. As harsh as the past seasons have been on some of the midland’s rivers, these insects will go into reproductive overdrive, shortening their breeding-cycles to booster populations. The trout that have spent the past few seasons on a maintenance diets have added fat to their lengthy frames, with worms, cockchafer beetles and grubs providing the early season fodder. It’s a time to re-visit the fisheries of old, and fish like its 1959. See you on the river.

 If you’d like to book some time fly fishing the spring mayfly hatches with RiverFly Tasmania, send us an enquiry now. We have spaces available in October for the start of the hatches, and very limited spaces in November and December.


  • Fishing report for August and early September


Trout fishing a Tasmanian rainforest creek

Trout fishing a Tasmanian rainforest creek

For a rundown of the fishing to mid-August, read our blog (online diary) here.

 The rains continued into September, with flood-feeders still the primary target until late last week. RiverFly guide Patrick Horan’s earthworm fly was the outstanding fly pattern of the period, with lake and river fish finding it irresistible. The headwater creeks offered the most consistent fishing, much of it polaroiding, though well timed trips to the South Esk, Macquarie, and St Patricks rivers resulted in great flood fishing for lucky anglers.

 An interesting by-product of the big-wet has been prolific midge hatches on the lakes. Nearly every lake in Tasmania is now full (with the exception of Lake Gordon, Great Lake and Lake Echo). This has meant that kilometres of previously dry shorelines are again underwater. As the flooded vegetation (grasses etc) rot, they provide food for invertebrate populations, and the midges have been the first to explode in numbers. This has led to dry fly fishing opportunities on Lake Huntsman in particular. Other lakes that have fished well in the past couple of weeks have been Lake Echo (with access now available to the marshes at the top end), Great Lake and the Bronte Chain.

 My last trip to the Western Lakes was opening day, with all the lakes from Augusta right out to the back lakes full and overflowing. Since then, persistent highland rain and snow has kept the road access closed while Lake Augusta spills. I’m anticipating a visit to the Western Lakes later in the month, so stay tuned to our blog for a report.


  •   New Project from the ‘In Season Tasmania’ Team

For fans of the book In Season Tasmania – A Year of Fly Fishing Highlights, you’ll be interested to read that I have just embarked on my next ‘artistic’ endeavour. I’m keeping cagey on the details for now, but all will come to light on the RiverFly blog over the next month, as a winter of planning turns into a season of action. Super-photographer, FlyLife Magazine staffer, and In Season co-author Brad Harris will be one of a cast who’ll be joining me on parts of the next project, providing inspiring images along the way.


  • Product Reviews

·        Whiting Eurohackle


Whiting Rooster

Whiting Rooster

Relatively new to Australia are Whiting Eurohackles, available from the Essential Fly Fisher in Launceston. These are dry-fly saddles in the traditional sense, but this breed of rooster caters for a range of larger than normal sizes. For a long time now, size 8-10 dry fly hackles, or over-sized hackles for parachute flies have been hard to come by. The Eurohackle fills this void, with saddles catering for 8’s, 10’s or 12’s, depending on the individual saddle selected. I’ve been using them on size 10 and 12 parachute duns, and give them two thumbs up!

 ·        New Sage 99 fly rod

Sage have just released a new model rod called the 99. These are 9’ 9’’ inch rods, specifically designed for European style nymphing. My first impressions from casting this rod are that it will be awesome for its specific job. The length is ideal, the sensitive and slow tapered tip will be well suited for casting and ‘feeling’ the nymphs as they fish, and the low-down power will offer plenty of oomph for pulling rainbows out of white-water pockets. If you’re trying to picture what the rod feels like in action and balance, think of a rod built with a graphite bottom half, and fibreglass tip. This rod will be a hit among the competition fishing scene, and those wanting to fish this effective style of fishing.


  •  Quamby Estate – RiverFly lodge accommodation

Quamby Estate, RiverFly’s lodge accommodation partner, has been receiving some great reviews of late. To read more about the charms of the estate, follow these links to recent reviews: , the Sydney Morning Herald, or pick up a copy of the latest FlyLife Magazine, Spring 2009.

Quamby Estate Homestead

Quamby Estate Homestead


 Guests booking our 3 Rivers Package with lodge accommodation receive free airport transfers from Launceston to Quamby Estate.


 That’s all for now. Thank you for your loyal business which has led to record pre-season bookings for season 09/10. We look forward to showing you some of our new river venues this season, or perhaps leading you on a Western Lakes wilderness campout. For more information visit our website at

 Thank you from the RiverFly team: Daniel, Simone and Patrick.

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.