December is the month when all keen highland flyfishers start looking for those fabled mayfly hatches.
The highland lakes such as Penstock Lagoon, Little Pine Lagoon, Arthurs Lake and Woods Lake have extensive hatches that last right throughout summer.
Arthurs Lake hatches have been practically nonexistent since 2007, however it was pleasing to see good hatches once again in February just as the season tapered off into the brutal winter we’ve just experienced.
Woods Lake has some of the best hatches in the highlands, especially on cloudy and rainy days. Wind, as elsewhere in the highlands doesn’t seem to worry the mayfly too much, and trout are rarely deterred from a surface feed of mayflies due to wind.
Early in the morning there is often a shallow water hatch that can be the most exciting hatch of all – with trout hunting emerging mayflies in the extreme shallows. These fish feed very quickly and it can often seem like they are spooked, however the warm shallow water speeds them up a bit, and accurate and quick casting is essential.
Reasonable hatches occurred last year in the Sand Lake side of the lake, but with very few anglers on the water to see them, only a few experienced some of the great fishing that occurred. With the water level into unprecedented heights, we can only imagine what the hatch should be like this year.
Mayflies are a real enigma here, the best hatches I have ever seen on Arthurs were between 1998 and 2005, when the lake stabilised at a medium level after being low for some time. It could be an awesome year this year for duns, and I would confidently predict that the Cowpaddock and Seven Pound Bay areas will see plenty of these insects come December.
Penstock has had awesome hatches for the past five or so years, and while I am not really a fan of this water, it does give up some excellent fish and fishing. Often the best hatches start late in the day – if you are on the water by 2pm you should be ok, except on the occasions when you should have been there at 11am!
Hydro and Inland Fisheries are monitoring boat usage here and recommend that anglers only use electric engines: I suspect that within a few years this will be an electric engine only water.
An immensely popular water, and with good reason. Hatches start with regularity here in about the second week of December, sometimes earlier and sometimes later. The Lagoon had a great flush through this winter and this is usually a precursor to some good and consistent hatches.
My advice is to fish it midweek if you are able and try to get the best of it before Christmas – after the festive season the fish can get a tad shy of the surface.
If you are keen for a walk, Lake Fergus, whish is just over the hill (sort of) from Little Pine also has some awesome hatches and as this water does involve a walk, you are less likely to be crowded out. The bonus is that if the sun comes out you will be treated to some of the best polaroiding you might ever see.
Cloudy days at Lake Fergus always yield a mayfly feeder or two.Reads: 1214