Fly Fishing In Tasmania | The Mersey River

OVERVIEW OF THE MERSEY RIVER

The Mersey River is a wonderful fishery located in northwest Tasmania. Beginning life at Lake Meston, the river flows 147 kilometers before entering Bass Straight in Devonport and is impacted by several hydro-electric storages along its course.

The Mersey is a very diverse wild trout fishery, the headwaters located deep with the Tasmanian WHA contain only rainbow trout, then below Hartnett Falls there is a good mix of both rainbow and browns. The lower reaches between Devonport and the Great Bend is known for holding good numbers of sea run fish during spring.

The size of fish varies a lot depending on the area fished. Trout in the true headwaters are very small, while the remainder of the river holds good numbers of small to medium sized fish up to 4lb.

Large resident and sea run fish are caught in the lower section of the river, with fish in excess of 10 pounds a possibility.

WHEN TO FISH THE MERSEY RIVER

The best time to fish can vary between different sections of the river. Depending on water levels, the Mersey can fish well from the start of August.

The lower river and estuary fishes best from September to late November, when sea runners follow migrations of whitebait up the system.

The middle (most fished) section performs best from October to December, and then later in autumn when water temperatures cool, and grasshoppers and mayfly bring fish to the surface.

Fishing the river upsteam of Lake Rowallan (section of river is open until Sunday closest to May 31st) during May for fish migrating upstream.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS FISHERY

  • Spring sea run and resident bait feeders in the lower river provide exciting fishing and provide anglers with the chance of landing a large fish.
  • Early season floodplain fishing when trout feed on drowned food over newly covered ground. Rising water is best, and ‘dead end’ backwaters (those that have n current running through them) are better.
  • Mayflies hatch well over most of the river with spring and autumn the peak times. October will see black spinners appear and other species like Baetid and Caenids provide wonderful dry fly fishing, with very large hatches occurring. Early morning hatches of Caenids are some of the best in the state, and on settled mornings can last many hours. November and December are the best months for Caenids, with dawn the best time to be on the water.
  • Willow grubs appear on the river from late November and will continue to provide great fishing for many months. Trout can be seen sipping the tiny grubs off the surface and also be polaroided high in the water column hunting grubs.
  • Grasshoppers feature late in summer and into autumn and provide exciting fishing. Even when fish are not seen, searching ‘likely water’ blind with a hopper pattern this time of year is an enjoyable way to fish.
  • The Mersey is well suited to Euro-nymph style of fishing, there are miles of wonderful water suited to this technique. The river holds good stocks of both browns and rainbows offering great variety.

ACCESS POINTS TO THE MERSEY RIVER

Anglers targeting bait feeders will find them in the lower section of river, where both sea run and resident trout ambush schools of whitebait creating exciting fishing. The section of river behind Pig Island all the way through to the Great Bend is notable water, with both trout and bait pushing further upstream as the season progresses.

In the tidal section, fishing during an in-coming tide will see more bait pushing up. It pays to cover lots of water to find feeding fish, bait tend to travel up the edge of the river, will congregate around structure at the bottom of riffles and in tailouts.

The river at Merseylea runs through farmland and has good formal angler access points. This section holds some beautiful water, some of which was badly affected by the massive floods of 2016. Being a flat floodplain, it offers good early season flood fishing opportunities, followed later in the season by wonderful hatches of tiny Caenid mayflies during November and December.

Slightly further upsteam near Weegana, the river is crossed by Dynans and Kellys Bridges. Surrounded by sections of bush and farmland, this area provides good access with a great mix of water to explore. The river here is made up of fast water, wadable runs and deep pools. It is great venue for all types of fishing, with good hatches of black spinners, Caenids and later in the season grasshoppers provide great dry fly action.

Near Mole Creek, Union bridge offers angler access with good fishing found on both sides of the bridge. The area produces reliable hatches of black spinners and the late summer grasshopper fishing can be noteworthy. About one hours walk above the bridge, the river runs through sections of gorge which can offer interesting fishing. There are good populations of stoneflies here, with fish of up to 10 pounds being reported.

Lees Paddocks is a series of freehold pastures set in a valley surrounded by WHA mountain range. Access to this spectacular location is gained by walking a formed track, which from the carpark to the first hut is approximately 6.5km in length.

The river is very scenic and features large sections of trailing weed. It is surrounded by native bush, (many of which are Myrtles) and after even modest rain can turn dark with tannin. High numbers of small brown and rainbows are present, the river here is small and offers wonderful dry fly fishing.

Map of access points by IFS Tasmania

GEAR REQUIRED

For the majority of upstream dry fly and nymph fishing 8” to 9”ft rods in line weights 3 -5wt rigged with floating lines are great options for this water. The Primal Raw 8’6” 4wt and Scott G Series 8’8” 4wt are perfect rods for this river.

The Mersey is a wonderful Euro-nymph venue. Anglers wishing to fish in this style will find 9’6”” to 10’6”ft rods in line weights 2-4wt well suited. The Primal Zone Euro Nymph teamed with an Airflo SLN line make a well balanced combination for this style of fishing.

FLY SELECTIONS

Nymphs 

Sizes #14-18 work well on the river and should be carried with bead sizes from 2mm - 2.8mm. It pays to carry a mix of bead colours, silver, black, gold and pink all work well depending on the day. Mayfly imitations work well, with patterns like the Pheasant Tail nymph being reliable and hard to beat.

Dry Flies

These should include patterns like the Royal Wulff, F Fly, Caddis, parachute Adams, Shaving Brush, Willow Grub, Black and Red Spinners and adult damsel flies for the lower sections.

Wet Flies

Patterns like black Woolly Worms, Black Beetle and Worm Flies are good options for early season floodplain fishing. Anglers targeting bait feeders will need BMS, Matukas, Yeti and Surf Candies (#12_.

Manic Fly Collection Must Haves

Hi Vis Possum Dun

Wave Rider Dun

Baetis Bomb

Kyle's Coloboriscus Dry

Kyle's Deleatidium

Jig Pink PT

Jig BTB PT

Classic Ghost