Large, exposed and set in a barren landscape the Great Lake is biggest water in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. The lake is a major hydro-electric storage and suffers from large water draw-downs each summer, but unlike many other fisheries, it performs very well (better) in times of low water levels. Home to an extremely large population of wild brown and rainbow trout averaging close to 3 pounds, the lake is diverse fishery which has much to offer the fly angler. Known for its clear water, free rising fish and countless miles of shoreline and open water to explore, it a ‘must do’ destination for anglers fishing Tasmania.
When to fish it
Most of lake is open to fishing all year-round (Canal bay closed Sunday nearest 31st March and opens Saturday nearest to December 1st) and good fishing is available throughout the year. Feature fishing would be from November to late March.
The Great Lake is a wide-ranging fishery, although most locals who frequent it do so for its fabulous dry fly fishing, it also offers great scope for wet fly techniques.
Highlights would include smelt feeders during the colder months, tailing fish early season and during rising water levels, wind lanes, midge hatches, polarioding, terrestrial feeders and ‘shark fishing’ (open water polarioding fish hunting beetles ).
Where to fish
Shore based options are endless on the lake. All shores can fish well in the right conditions, but areas like Canal Bay, Tods Corner, Swan Bay, Elizabeth Bay and Little Lake Bay are prime areas to look. Wade polarioding along ‘windblown’ shores can provide fantastic fishing. Terrestrials like beetles and subsurface food accumulate on these shores, and where there is food, you will usually find fish!
Trout can be found tailing feeding on scud (look for areas of ‘black dirt’ and weed beds as the lake drops over summer) and after heavy rains when food like worms, beetles and caterpillars are washed into the shallows. The resident population of Galaxia congregate onshore to spawn (particularly throughout winter and early season) creating some fantastic fishing. From the ‘Behives’ along the Western shore of Dud Bay, Swan Bay and around to Haddens Bay are prime areas to look for smelt feeders.
Map of access points by IFS Tasmania
The boat fishing on the Great Lake can be remarkable, and without doubt is the main attraction of the lake. The lake has prolific hatches of midge and the early morning wind lane fishing is some of the best in the state. Wind lanes, slicks and foam lines will accumulate food and hold fish. Using boat with a bow mounted electric motor is a great advantage in these places. During summer, warm bright days with a northerly winds are best for ‘shark’ fishing (deep water polarioding for fish hunting beetles in waves). Trout also feed heavily on flying ants, grass hoppers, caddis and later in the year jassids when blown onto the water.
Loch-style techniques work well on the lake and on days where food is scarce, the fish can be reliably ‘fished up’ using teams of dry flies. Anglers should concentrate their efforts in areas like weed beds, reefs and around large rocks where fish will be holding. Trout in the Great Lake love to eat larger flies, so on slow days, bigger is often a better option ‘draw’ fish up.
A Scott Radian 9’6” 5wt teamed up with a floating line is my preferred option for the Great Lake. The slightly longer rod is great for longer cast sometimes required fishing wind lanes, will handle loch style fishing teams of both wet and dry flies well, and is a great rod for wade polaroiding the shore.
Fly suggestions; Carrot fly, Black Bobs Bits, Bibio Hopper, Gum beetle, Black Parachute, Stick Caddis, Black Cricket, Smelt patterns and large terrestrials.
Manic ‘must-have’ flies
Muz's Sticky Caddis
Belinda's Bitchslap Humungous
Hi Vis Possum Dun
Great Lake Gum Beetle
Bum Fluff Stimi
Chubby Chernobyl Golden Brown
Flat Back Cicada
Foam Manuka Beetle
Jake's Blackout Stone Salmonfly