Western Lakes Fly Fishing – pic of the day

Flats style fishing for trout - Western Lakes Tasmania

Flats style fishing for trout - Western Lakes Tasmania

The Western Lakes trout are on fire, with flats-cruising brown trout averaging between one and two pounds heavier than normal, due to the great winter and spring flooding. Main food items are early morning caddis, late evening midges, and daytime galaxia, with the average trout size ranging from 2 1/2 pounds to 6 pounds.

 Back down on the lowlands, and juvenile hoppers are starting to interest river trout on the South Esk, St Patricks and Meander rivers, and most of the creeks in between – the tiny granite-spring creeks of the north-east are fishing exceptionally.

If you would like to join Patrick and I for a Western Lakes wilderness campout, Email us now. We have a couple of spaces left on trips booked for January and April. RiverFly Tasmania is Tasmania’s only guiding operation licenced to work in the Western Lakes World Heritage Area.

Fly fishing the Tasmanian Western Lakes

Western Lakes torpedoe

Western Lakes torpedoe


UPDATE – for more information on guided fly fishing in the Western Lakes, click here – RiverFly Wilderness Huts.

During the last week of January each year, I spend a week in the Western Lakes region of Tasmania – this is a region of stark beauty, harsh weather, and remote World Heritage listed wilderness. If you’re after a mental picture of the area, think of a stereotypical Scottish highland moor, interspersed with ancient pencil pines, marsupials, about 3000 crystal clear lakes, and trout ranging from 1 lb to 15lbs. The appeal of the area starts to become apparent.

The trip was one of exploration for us, exploring remote lakes in un-tracked areas. We ranged an area from Pencil Pine Tarn, to Lake Butters, to Lake Fanny and all the way north to Mount Jerusalem; more than 100 kilometres were travelled on foot, in search of extraordinary waters. On the search we found great mayfly waters, beautiful lakes with silt flats where trout were polaroided ghosting along the bottom for nymphs, and a handful of headwater trophy waters. Of a dozen potential trophy waters visited, four had absolutely massive fish in them – one silt-bottomed pond housed a couple of double-digit dinosaurs, while one deeper lake housed an amazing array of trout from six pounds to fifteen – all smashing bait-balls of galaxiids at a full flyline length offshore. On the resulting long distance takes, the trout torpedoed dry flies with enough speed and aggression to pull the slack out of one hundred feet of flyline before the angler had time to flinch.  Awesome.

A few tips from this trip: get up high on rocky perches and ridge-lines to aid in polaroiding cruising fish, and secondly, smaller isn’t always better in fly selection. Quite often big is beautiful as many trout displayed, refusing tiny Shaving Brush flies, instead taking WMD Hoppers , Black Crickets and Cubit Mudeyes on second presentations!

Western Lakes trophy, released to catch again

Western Lakes trophy, released to catch again

In Search of the Giant Stonefly

A giant stonefly hitches a ride

A giant stonefly hitches a ride

The giant-stonefly (Eustheniidae) hatch is a mysterious Tasmanian event. Most anglers would have seen the adult insects running around from time-to-time, but few would have fished a serious hatch. These massive bugs are found right across a huge range of Tasmania’s clear, cool waters, including tributaries of the St Patricks and North Esk rivers, the Meander, Mersey, Liffey and Leven rivers, Arthurs and Great lake, and among the Western Lakes.

These beasts are big: two inches in length (equivalent to a size 6 long-shank hook) is not unusual for these little beasties, appearing from their nymphal stages as winged adults, racing up mid-stream rocks as they hatch into mature adults.

For a number of years I have been studying the hatches of these little-known insects, trying to find the right time, and the best place to hit the hatch. These experiences have shown that late January is the best time for the hatches, during the warmest time of the year. The best locations are the fast and bouldery rivers of the north and north-west, and among the north-western area of the Western Lakes.

With this information in mind, I am off to fish some of Tasmania’s best fly fishing waters in search of the giant-stonefly hatch, one of the rare hatches that brings the biggest of the best fish to the surface. My trip will start in a deep gorge of the Mersey River for two days, followed by four days in the Western Lakes. My fly of choice will be the WMD Hopper, with an orange underbody, tied to a eight-pound tippet. Wish me luck!

If you would like to join RiverFly Tasmania for a day on the rivers, or on a Wilderness Campout to experience the best fly fishing Tasmania has to offer, contact Daniel for more information

For WMD Hoppers and dozens of RiverFly Tasmania fly patterns, visit our online shop

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Secret Spring Creeks part 3 – Seepage Springs

Western Lakes seepage springThe ‘seepage springs’ as I call them are the spring creeks of the Western Lakes. Flowing underground from feeder lakes, these springs are the most common spring creek types found on Tasmania’s Central Plateau. My best guess is that they are formed when dolerite bedrock fractures, creating a subterranean riverbed for lake-bound waters to escape into. Somewhere along their travels, these waters re-emerge among the scoparia and pineapple grasses, where they hold the odd trout, who are in fact translocated remnants of winter floods.

The best way to fish them? I like to start at the bottom of the catchment, and fish my way up. The lakes found along the way will provide for good polaroiding, while the interconnecting stream offers a more intimate snout-hunting venue. If you are lucky, you will reach the headwater of the spring, which are often true trophy trout waters.

The give away on the maps are the systems as I have described them: look for chains of lagoons and tarns interconnected by a whisper of a blue line.