High Country Highlights
  |  First Published: December 2010

Many anglers agree that the last month of the year is one of the very best for the southern highlands.

The unique spring-time activities still overlap into the first half of December and the tailing fish are no exception. The weather is improving, the highland dun hatches are up and going, the trout are gorging on caenids and the Aussies are hopefully doing well in the cricket, it’s hard to imagine life being any better!

Bronte Lagoon

It’s well worth getting up for the dawn patrol in December, as you are likely to see a tail or two along the Long Shore or around Tailers Bay and the shore from Bull Rush point south down to Woodwards Bay.

This area is also a favourite of mine in the afternoons. A floater is always a first choice for me at this time of the year and you don’t have to be fancy with your selection. A Red Tag, Glister Tag or a Bibio Hopper is all you need in a size 12 or 14. During the midday hours have a good look in the area from Rowallan Bay around to the point of the long Arm for dun feeders and afternoon spinner feeders, a standard Possum Emerger or a Parachute Black Spinner are a good choice here.

Lake Meadowbank

December has great dawn wind lane fishing on offer at Meadowbank, with plenty of fish mopping up the newly hatched midges and other spent insects from the previous evening. The jewels in the crown for me though, are the caenid hatches which are really kicking in by the start of December.

On really good mornings many of the fish are within easy reach of shore-based anglers often with fish chomping around the tussocks and reeds. Other mornings the fish seem to stay out deeper so a boat or float tube can give you more options.

I always use a size 14 or size 16 Iron Blue Dun for the caenid feeders. On the odd occasion I’ll tie on a small Matcham’s Caenid if I think a change is warranted. Accurate casting is far more important here; you must get the fly directly in line and right where the next rise of the fish will be.

Most of the perceived fussiness of caenid feeders, I believe is just a case of the trout not seeing the fly, because of inaccurate casting and the fish being high in the water column.

Cluny Lagoon and Lake Repulse

Some good fish on offer here for boat-based anglers as well as some good shore fishing. The majority of fish are caught on lures but there is some good fly fishing from Cluny Lagoon’s marshy flat between the Punch Bowl Bay and the Broad River mouth. Morning and evening tailers will take a Fiery Brown Beetle and a Cocky Bondhu has always been a good pattern here.

Pine Tier Lagoon

Pine Tier Lagoon is always good in December, as in the previous spring months. Early and late in the day will always be a very reliable time to find fish foraging in the extreme shallows but Pine Tier does have a very good dun hatch and of course, following, good fishing to the spinner feeders.

The size of many of these dun feeders can be very surprising, but be warned I’ve come unstuck many times by underestimating the trout in this great water.

Lake King William

Hasn’t quite the made the grade level-wise this year and at the time of writing it’s a couple of metres down and falling. In December there will still be fish lurking around the deeper gutters, in and around the marshes, move slow and carefully and you will see signs of movement at all hours of the day.

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