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.

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  • Ben Le Vagueresse August 23, 2009  

    I’ve recieved similar reports. Trout have been full of worms but the positive is that the mayfly will be spread over long stretches of rivers, Halcyon days perhaps.



  • John Clark August 25, 2009  

    Great report daniel. I’ve yet to get my head around floodwater fishing. Worm fly is a new term to me, must google the recipe. I’ve tried foursprings and a couple of dams with no luck. Might try Huntsman in the next week or so. Keep up the reports, they really help novices like me. Cheers.

    • Daniel August 25, 2009  

      Patrick’s Worm Fly or earthworm pattern was inspired by a FlyLife Magazine article a year or two ago, and is pretty much a new pattern for Tasmanian’s. I’ll get a stockpile tied and add them to the webshop next week – they are an awesome drowned earthworm imitation.