Manic Monday - Early Season Report: Tasmania

The Tasmanian trout season got underway to a good start, with enthusiastic anglers braving cold conditions finding some nice fish. After the interrupted end to last season due to restrictions created by the COVID pandemic, anglers were keen to get back out on the water. After our relatively mild, but dry winter, the opening of the trout season was greeted with a run of colder weather, with parts of the state recording good snowfalls and localised much needed heavy rainfall. The rising water levels helped get fish moving, with floods in some areas pushing both rivers and lakes over new ground, setting the scene for some great fishing.

Off the Central Highlands, Four Springs has been clear and popular. After a milder winter, water temperatures have remained slightly higher in the lake, creating an expediential growth of weed. Fish have been feeding deep in the cover of weed on food like snails and stick caddis. As mayfly nymphs start to become active in the next few weeks, trout will become more active and move out of weed beds, feeding higher in the water column. There are large numbers of frogs in the marshes and fish have been chasing smelt in the shallows. On calm days trout have been rising to midge, and the first hatches of mayfly have started appearing creating some wonderful fishing.

Lake Leake on the state’s east coast has been a standout water since opening day, with well-conditioned brown and rainbow trout rewarding anglers and some large fish being caught. After a long period of low water levels, the recent heavy rains lifted the lake quickly, and it has now filled. The increased water should set Lake up for some exceptional fishing in the coming weeks for anglers fishing wet flies along recently flooded shores. Fish will be keen to move in to the shallows feeding on a buffet of food which has become available. Early starts should be rewarded, with dawn the most reliable time to find fish feeding in the shallows. Lake Leake hosts excellent pre-Christmas mayfly hatches, and with size and condition of the fish available this year, it will defiantly be popular and produce some outstanding dry fly fishing up until around Christmas.

On the North West coast, Talbots Lagoon has started the season slowly, low levels in the first few weeks and colder water temperatures making shore based options limited. Anglers fishing loch-style have had success, using sinking lines to reach fish holding deep over weed beds getting better results. Talbots will improve dramatically in the next few weeks, as temperatures begin to warm and frogs become more active along the shoreline fish will quickly put on condition. Talbots is outstanding mayfly water and is perhaps home to the best hatch of red spinners in the state. The only drawback being, as temperatures rise, a hefty population of large tiger snakes become active hunting frogs along the shoreline.

The lakes on the Central Highlands are cold. Breaking the pattern of milder winter much of the state experienced, the first week of the trout season was greeted with a record low temperature of minus 14.2 degrees Celsius recorded at Miena, followed by some good snow falls on the Plateau. With the arrival of spring the longer days and warmer air temperatures will see cold water temperatures slowly start to creep up over the next few weeks and bring more food and fish into the shallows.

Penstock and Little Pine Lagoon have been popular with anglers catching good numbers fish using loch-style techniques, with sinking lines being most successful. The Pine has had a few fish start to appear in the shallows, and now with the start of spring the numbers will continuing to increase in coming weeks. Mornings are usually the best time to target these fish, with the best conditions being when overnight temperatures remain above freezing point.

At a slightly lower elevation, Bronte Lagoon has started the season well with some excellent conditioned fish caught. Water levels have been low, and regulars will be hoping rains will start to see the lagoon push into the shallows allowing trout to target the large population of frogs that live in the surrounding marshes.

Brave anglers keen enough to venture out to the Western Lakes have had mixed success. Being elevated, exposed and shallow, the Western Lakes will be colder than their larger and deeper hydroelectric neighbours. Most lakes out the back are full, but not flooded. Hopefully the next few weeks will bring some heavy spring rains in the catchment areas allowing lakes to spill out into their flood basins. Spring flood plain fishing is a real feature of the Western Lakes, and fish will start to become active out West as water temperatures begin to rise.

Rivers have been fishing well since the opening day of the season. In the first weeks of the season, localised floods pushed some waters out into paddocks creating some wonderful back water action. Lucky anglers targeting fish feeding on worms and other food which was flooded out. This ‘flush’ will set rivers like the South Esk and Macquarie up perfectly for the much anticipated spring mayfly hatches in their middle reaches.

Anglers using nymphs have been catching some good bags of fish prospecting the faster water. Locally the fish seem to be holding very high up in the ripples and have been keen to grab a small weighted nymphs drifted through the current. Small amounts of duns have been hatching on the rivers, these hatches will continue to build in the next few weeks creating some outstanding dry fly fishing.

Sea runners have started to appear all across the state, with good sized fish being caught in rivers like the Derwent, Tamar, Mersey and Leven. Some lovely fish to 4kg have already been caught and the run of bait will increase over the next few weeks. These rivers, along with those on the west coast will be great places for anglers to try to search for a larger fish.