As you get older you certainly develop a list of favourite places.
I certainly do and here are five such places, each vastly different than the other, and each very special in their own specific way. My Tasmanian favourite five.
At number five is Georges Bay at St Helens on the east coast of Tasmania. St Helens is a place that has abundant sunshine and a mild climate compared to other parts of Tasmania, although last summer we spent a full day in the tent because of rain.
It has everything for a genuine holiday, camping, walking, scenery, beaches, restaurants, and most of all, some magnificent fishing. It is a place where you can take the wife and kids and everyone has something to do. You can catch fish from the beaches, rocky shorelines or in the deep water further off the coast.
I mostly confine myself to fishing Georges Bay because here I can use the fly rod to advantage. Australian salmon along with many other species gather, congregate, and pursue baitfish, each species following its own natural instinct in the food chain.
In summer you can expect to be surrounded by thousands of baitfish trying to find some safety beneath the boat from the marauding predators in the bay. It is an awesome sight, and an equally fantastic fishing occurs when the salmon lock onto the bait. The salmon turn the water to froth in their pursuit of the bait fish, rods arch and broad smiles are the order of the day. The flats also feature excellent bream fishing and the channel is home to some huge silver trevally to 60cm and above.
Fourth on my list is the Leven River which flows through my home town of Ulverstone where it empties into Bass Strait on the north west coast of Tasmania This stretch of water offers much in the way of fishing. The estuary is home to Australian salmon, mullet, sea-run trout, trevally, flathead, and even tailor.
From the tidal waters the river winds it way through the forests and gullies to Gunns Plains, a broad valley where the river turns into a series of pools, ripples and glides. A camping ground and shop is situated in the valley making it a great place to stay.
This river is one of those untapped resources of trout fishing, for it is here in the spring that the best of the hatches occur and the brown trout are feisty, hungry and only too willing to take a fly.
I love nothing more than to arrive on the water around lunchtime and spend a lazy few hours fishing the rise. In the spring the white caddis are prolific and a Royal Wulff is irresistible to the trout. Why do I like this river? Because it is close to my home and I have the choice of doing some dry-fly fishing or some salt-water flyfishing. I have the best of both worlds and at minimal travelling cost.
Number three is Lake Burbury on the west coast of Tasmania, which lies east of Queenstown. This lake not only draws me for its fishing but for its beauty as well. The lake has a certain magic about it, an aura that is captivating, inspiring, and unbelievably beautiful. The colour of the mountain cliffs surrounding the lake are always changing, varying from deep blue to lavender.
A tourist from Western Australia commented to me on the beauty of the place and he couldn’t understand why there were hardly any people about. But that is Tasmania for you, mostly the remote places see very few people.
Both rainbow and brown trout can be caught here. The lake is famous for its windlanes. A boat is a must here. If you are lucky enough to get a good day, when the fish are feeding and taking the fly, you will have a fishing trip to remember. But be warned, I’ve had bad days when I haven’t been able to tempt a fish in a windlane, only to go out the next day a have a ball.
My favourite pastime on this lake is to sneak around the bays and inlets where there is timber. The trout are always there on those hot days of summer chasing dragon flies. Drop a dry fly, preferably a Royal Wulff, close to the shore and in the timber. If there is no response give the fly a tweak. Don’t be afraid to skim the fly across the top of the water.
Arthurs Lake easily fits into the number two spot. This stretch of water holds many memories for me. It was here where I spent most of my early years learning to fly fish. 2008 saw the lake drop to the lowest level I have ever seen, but thankfully it is now back to a more normal level.
I spent so much time on this lake that I now know with some degree of accuracy where the fish will be under vary weather conditions. For example, there is a small bay that fishes well on a still morning when there is no wind about. Midging trout are always there. But if the wind is up and the water is rippled you will not see a fish.
This lake is very popular as it fishes with a high degree of consistency, anyone with bait, spinning gear or fly can catch a fish. Still, there are times when the fish won’t come to anything. I like to fish the dawn patrol. I usually leave the water once the sun hits the surface, returning for some breakfast and a small catnap. Then, when the day warms up and the insect activity is at its peak, I venture out again. I don’t stay on the water past 3pm. In the evening I am back out again until dark.
Why the routine you might ask? Because I find these generally are the peak feeding times for the trout on the lake. It is all about efficiency: efficiency for my catch rate and efficiency for me to able to continue fishing over successive days. What flies to use? Just about anything works here, although when wet fly fishing I like to use two similar flies in tandem.
My number one choice is the Gawler River. This is a small stream on the northwest coast of Tasmania. It doesn’t have any famous attributes, it is just a delightful little stream that has given me years of pleasure and still does. It is not much different than a hundreds other streams in Tasmania.
I started fishing this stream as a boy with my grandfather who was happy to fish it with a garden worm. I suppose it is this connection and its close proximity to where I live that drew to me to it in the beginning.
I love nothing more than to wade this stream in the sunshine, enjoy the magical silence, the excitement of casting to many trout under varying conditions, the slurping take of the dry fly and the bending of the rod. What fly do I normally use? A Royal Wulff of course.
If you want to know more about these places and the techniques I use then perhaps obtain a copy of my books: ‘Come Fly Fish With Me’ and ‘If Only The World Would go fishing’.Reads: 5781