Fly Fishing Tasmania | A Manic Guide

While only geographically small, Tasmania offers a wide variety of trout fishing opportunities for anglers. Located 240km south of mainland Australia, the island state offers a wonderful mix of easily accessible waters, and for those willing to put in the time and effort, an amazing network of pristine remote wilderness fisheries.

Wild brown trout dominate most fisheries, but good populations of rainbows are present in many locations. For anglers seeking something special when fly fishing Tasmania, a small number of waters hold populations of naturally spawned brook trout.

Even though mainland Tasmania only comprises of 64,409 square kilometres, it is home to an extensive network of rivers and streams, a large number of man-made hydroelectric and irrigation storages, and thousands of natural lakes and lagoons making up the western lakes wilderness fishery.

High Country Lagoon Fishing Tasmania

Tasmania is a stunning sight fishing destination, anglers who enjoy hunting and stalking fish thrive in the opportunities found here. Sight fishing prospects for anglers include tailing trout, springtime sea trout migrations up coastal estuaries, amazing dry fly fishing, prolific hatches of mayfly, caddis, beetles, midge and grasshoppers, and ‘blue sky’ polaroiding for cruising trout in shallow clear waters.

The state has vast opportunities for shore-based anglers, and also those who prefer to fish from boats. Traditional loch-style fishing using both wet and dry flies adds another element for anglers fishing in larger waterways.

River enthusiasts will enjoy wonderful dry fishing opportunities, and euro-nymph fishing fans are guaranteed good sport due to the large populations of fish present in most streams.

For those who like to fish super light and small, twigwater fanatics are spoilt for choice with countless creeks full of beautiful small fish which just love to eat dry flies!

SEASONS FOR FLY FISHING TASMANIA

  • Tasmania’s brown trout fisheries (though many contain rainbows as well) have a season starting the first Saturday in August and closing the Sunday nearest to April 30th
  • Waterways classified as rainbow trout fisheries have a season starting Saturday nearest to October 1st to Sunday nearest the 31st of May
  • There are also numerous waters open all year. To find out more about the Tasmanian trout fishing regulations, licences and seasons check out ifs.tas.gov.au
  • The Tasmanian fishing calendar varies depending on the area you are fishing and the species of trout you are targeting, and the style of fishing you want to experience

More specific details about some individual waters can be found below and a general break-up of what can be expected in a typical year follows.

GUIDES TO FLY FISHING SPOTS IN TASMANIA

  1. The South Esk
  2. Little Pine Lagoon
  3. The Meander River
  4. Four Springs Lake
  5. The Mersey River
  6. The Great Lake
  7. Brumby's Creek
  8. Bronte Lagoon
  9. Penstock Lagoon
  10. Arthur's Lake
  11. Nineteen Lagoons

A Fisherman Casting For Trout In Tasmania

A MONTH BY MONTH OVERVIEW OF FLY FISHING TASMANIA

AUGUST

Signals the opening of the brown trout season (the majority of waters). Up in the central highlands will be cold, with many lakes iced over. For those wanting to venture up top, fish will be feeding deep. Using sinking lines to pull larger wets can be productive for those who put in the effort. Although sight fishing is possible during milder days, it shouldn’t be relied on.

Off the mountain, the lowland still waters will be more consistent and a warmer option. Using sinking lines will still increase angler's catch rates, and some fish can be found feeding in the shallows early and late in the day.

Lowland rivers can offer some excellent wet fly fishing for trout feeding in flooded back-water from opening day if spilling into the paddocks. Hatches on lager rivers will be very scarce, with most fish being caught on nymphs, but anglers wanting to catch fish on dries can usually find success in headwater creeks.

The early season cold water of August is the prime time for those anglers wanting to target brook trout.

SEPTEMBER

From about the middle of September good migrations of whitebait should be pushing up coastal estuaries creating some fantastic fishing for sea run trout.

Wet fly fishing will still be the most reliable method on lowland lakes, but by the end of the month the first hatches of mayfly will be starting to appear.

Up in the highlands, the lakes will be rising. Loch-style techniques will still be productive, but rising levels will attract fish into the shallows to feed over the new ground.

Still mornings and evenings will see the first of the midge hatches appear. Places like The Great Lake and Bronte Lagoon will be good places to look.

Down low, if the rivers are running clear, most fish will be caught on nymphs, but with the first hatches of mayfly starting some good dry fly action will make fish start to look up. Along with the appearance of mayfly, evening caddis and cockchafer beetle falls should occur on many streams.

During wet years, anglers should focus on flood water fishing with rising rivers creating some exceptional fishing in the right locations.

Brook trout are still feeding well, and September is also a great month to target trophy browns for those in the know.

OCTOBER

October is a great month both on lakes and rivers, the warmer temperatures stimulate insect life and the fish become more active.

October is the prime month to target coastal rivers for sea runners; and inland rivers will have steady flows creating ideal conditions for nymph enthusiasts.

By the middle of the month, excellent hatches of mayfly should be expected on many rivers. The slower waterways of the midlands are great places to look, with many hosting some great red spinner hatches.

Many lowland lakes will hold consistent day-time mayfly hatches and fish will be keen to feed off the surface. By the middle of the month early morning hatches of tiny caenid mayfly will appear on both rivers and lakes.  Early starts are needed, and good hatches can last for hours creating wonderful dry fly fishing.

Up on the mountain it can still be cold, but frog feeders and tailing fish will create some exhilarating fishing opportunities. The western lakes can be fantastic this time of the season, with wet years creating sensational flood plain and marsh fishing.

Wet fly fishing still dominates on the highlands, but plenty of fish can be will be taken on dry flies in the right conditions.

Insects hatching for trout

NOVEMBER

November is a terrific month to be on the water, everything is fishing well!

Some highland lakes will start to see good hatches of mayflies, fish will be feeding heavily on nymphs, but keen to rise to dry flies as hatches occur. Settled weather will see consistent surface feeding options all over the plateau. Trout will be looking to feed on midge, stonefly, caddis and during times of warmer weather, the first beetles of the year too.

Blue sky days will excite anglers looking to polaroid fish, with the higher sun creating great seeing conditions.

November is still a great time for tailers. Wet springs can create amazing fishing out in the western lakes, with trout stacking on weight feeding on frogs. Most lakes will have fish tailing early and late in the day during this month. It is a prime month for Little Pine Lagoon’s famous amphipod feeders.

Sea run fish become less common in many places, but rivers on the west coast will be excellent, and can produce some very large fish.

Off the mountain the early morning caenids will be at their peak on many rivers, lowland streams will have fishing leaping to red and black spinners on warm afternoons.

Late in the month the mayfly hatches on most lowland still waters will start to decrease with rising water temperatures, but afternoons will still see fish targeting spinners and adult damsel flies.

DECEMBER

The arrival of summer in the central plateau will see some of the best mayfly action of the year during overcast weather, and superb polaroiding options on clear sky days. The warm weather also means more beetles, and December can see some wonderful ‘shark’ fishing out on the Great Lake (polaroiding fish feeding on beetles off-shore in the waves).

Early morning starts will see wind lanes and foam lines filled with fish sipping midge on many waters. The Great Lake is one of the best for this style of fishing.

The western lakes are a great place to be this month. After the wet spring trout will be looking for tadpoles in shallow, marshy bays. Wet wading is pleasant for those who love to wade polaroid and some lakes will see hatches of black spinners on calm afternoons.

The west coast is a good place to visit, coastal rivers will hold good numbers of trophy sea trout, with larger rivers like the Arthur and Piemen giving up good numbers of very large fish.

Some of the lakes on the west coast will offer amazing fishing; certain waters known for huge numbers of midge will see epic wind lane fishing, while further inland other locations will see wonderful hatches of mayfly duns and red spinners.

In the lowlands most rivers will be fishing well and should still have healthy flows. Willow grubs will be present in some areas, and good numbers of terrestrials will be hitting the water.

Creeks will be great places to target large numbers of small fish keen to eat dry flies for the twigwater enthusiast.

JANUARY

The height of summer brings long days and warm weather which are perfect for those anglers wanting to fish the more remote wilderness western lakes. January is traditionally known for being a great polaroiding month. Clear waters like the Great Lake and the western lakes region are a sight-fishers dream on a blue sky day. Anglers who love to stalk and hunt fish will thrive this time of year.

The warm weather should see good numbers of beetles on many waters. The Great Lake and Lake Echo are excellent places to look for beetle feeders. The ‘shark’ fishing on the Great Lake should be at its peak this time of the year, and calm days will see excellent early morning and evening wind-lane fishing on the lake.

Overcast days should be less common, but on these days good mayfly hatches will occur on the more elevated waters of the plateau (over 1000 metres).

Down lower the rivers will be fishing well, but some will be starting to struggle with lower water levels.

Fish will be very keen to feed off the surface, and fish will be looking for mayfly, willow grubs and juvenile hoppers.

Polaroiding for trout

FEBRUARY

February will see lower water levels and hotter temperatures all over the state. On the mountain, anglers will be fishing dry flies with fish consistently looking up. Sunny days mean great polaroiding, and beetle falls should be common.

This month is my favourite month out west. Wet wading is refreshing during long walks, good spinner hatches are common, and fish are looking for terrestrial food on the water. The polaroiding is second to none on a bright day.

The Great Lake will be dropping quickly due to hydro and irrigation demands. Although it may look barren, low water years create fantastic fishing for both shore-based and boat anglers on this lake. The low levels make sight fishing possible for cruising fish feeding over weed beds which are usually covered by deep water when levels are high.

The ‘shark’ fishing on the Great lake will be good, with sunny days with a northerly wind creating the best conditions to target fish feeding offshore in the waves.

The rivers will still fish well, but some will start to struggle with lower water levels. Clear water and low levels will require anglers to fish longer and finer to catch spooky fish. Grasshoppers will create some great fishing, and anglers in the know will target willow grub feeders on some rivers.

MARCH

March brings settled weather to the state and low water levels. The western lakes continue to fish well, but anglers will need fast reflexes to avoid aggressive snakes as they become active leading up to mating (had to put that in for the New Zealanders). Another great polaroiding month, and with lakes low out west, wet wading gives the ability to fish water otherwise too deep to access earlier in the year. Mayfly hatches will still occur but will be less common. Fish will be looking for mayfly, beetles and other terrestrials.

March is a great time to fish larger dry flies out in the western lakes, and also a good month to look for larger fish in headwaters and ‘big fish’ lakes.

Moe easily accessed waters like Lake Echo, Great Lake, Dee lagoon and Bronte lagoon will be good places to look for beetle feeders, and on humid days ant falls may occur. March can also see Jassids appear in the highlands. Trout love these little treats, and a Jassid year can create some spectacular dry fly fishing.

By late March some fish will start to think about spawning in the highlands. During rough conditions pulling wet flies in areas close to creek inflows can be a good way to catch more aggressive pre-spawned fish.

Off the mountain grasshoppers will continue to provide great fishing on the streams. The cooler days will see water temperatures start to drop, signalling a re-occurrence of mayfly hatches on many streams.

APRIL

April is a great month on the rivers and the settled weather and cooler days see excellent mayfly hatches on many rivers, with fish keen to feed leading up to spawning. Hoppers are all but finished, with the first real frost of the year putting an end to the hopper season. Some rivers across the state will have good black field cricket populations living in the dry banks. During the warmest part of the day these can become active and make their way onto the water bringing fish to the surface to feed.

Up in the high country the days will be short, but beetles and jassids can create wonderful dry fly fishing in the right conditions.

Midge hatches will still occur on many waters during calm conditions, and the Great Lake is hard to beat for this style of fishing, and on the west coast Lake Burbury will be excellent.

Out west bright days can allow polaroiding, but the low sun gives a short window of opportunity. Fish will start to accumulate around inflows, and it can be a good time to target large fish.

Closer to the road, larger impoundments with their bigger fish populations will give anglers good sport pulling larger wet flies for aggressive pre-spawning fish.

10 TIPS FOR FLY FISHING TASMANIA

  • Learn to cast into the wind
  • Fish windblown shores in the afternoon
  • Be prepared for all weather conditions when fishing in the highlands
  • Fish with your eyes
  • When polaroiding, remember to look ‘through’ the water, and not at the surface
  • Learn how to present your fly quickly for lake cruising fish
  • Make first casts count
  • Get a good drogue if fishing from a boat
  • Get a bow-mounted electric motor if you want to fish wind lanes
  • Hang your flies when fishing loch-style
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Simon Taylor is our man on the ground in Tasmania, who loves to also spend a lot of time on the ground here in NZ too. He's a fly fishing fanatic who knows what he's talking about.