Southern highlands fires up for high summer
  |  First Published: February 2013


February is the month of plenty, as we hit the summer high point before autumn comes.

Bronte has fished very well, good fishing to tailers at dawn and good dry fly fishing in settled weather during the day, with some very spectacular black and red mayfly spinner rises eventuating. The caenid hatches have also produced, even at Brady’s Lake and Lake Meadowbank, which has produced a glimpse of its former self with some nice fish being landed

February means beetles, mainly gum beetles and there is nothing brown trout like better than freshly hatched gum beetles, they must taste sweeter than the older beetles that are around earlier in the season

Dee Lagoon

The Dee is the feature beetle water in the region and it’s a real treat to fish when it fires. A warm day and a bit of a breeze will get the beetles on the water; a blue sky day is a bonus, enabling the fish to be polarized between rises or as they cruise around the steep shores and around the logs.

It’s not easy though and you really have to be able to cast fast and accurate, especially to the rainbows as they can really motor when they are locked onto the beetles. The dawn wind lanes are also worth getting up early for, the Dee fish love to work these before the beetles get going later in the day. Bruce Gibson-type beetles are the go to fly when they are on beetles.

Bronte lagoon

The orange caddis usually make an appearance around this time of the year; they are very noticeable resting among the lake side rushes and tussocks. Greg Beecroft’s Bronte Caddis was designed to imitate these very insects. Other flies featuring orange also work well, substituting the red tag for an orange one on a Zulu also is worth a go. Bronte is a good bet for a good beetle fall in February: anywhere along the road shore is good.

Lower Derwent Storages

There should still be enough Atlantics swimming around in Meadowbank to warrant a trip aimed at them but Meadowbank also has a good orange spinner hatch in February, usually not as big as the spring hatch but the fish reliably target them. Cluny Lagoon and Lake Repulse have good terrestrial falls, featuring beetles, ants and good grasshopper fishing especially along the grassy shores of Cluny. Any of the deer hair hopper patterns are good such as the Noel’s Knobby Hopper or the WMD and don’t forget the fantastic Wee Creek Hopper.

Cluny and Repulse are good destinations for lure fishing also as weed and low water isn’t a problem as it can be in some other Southern Highland lakes, there have been a few Atlantics caught in Repulse recently that have migrated down from Wayatinah.

Lake King William

King Williams is usually quite low at this time of the year but big bags can the expected by all methods, drifting the rocky edges and prospecting around the submerged stumps and trees with a couple of dries can be almost non-stop action. Low riding patterns like the various pommy dries such as the Hoppers, Carrots or the good old Possum Emerger are deadly. Gum beetles will also be a feature and don’t be surprised if you witness a big dun hatch. Last year a mate guiding on the King witnessed one of the best dun hatches he has seen anywhere.

Lake Burbury

Quite simply Burbury is the place to be in February; the warm settled weather means the mornings and evenings are very reliable for the fantastic wind lanes that are the feature fishing of this beautiful lake. I always start off fishing a size 6 Cubit Mudeye in the very early dawn light, moving onto a smaller size 8 Cubits when it gets a bit lighter. As it gets brighter and the rainbows and the odd brown start to refuse the floating mudeye I’ll switch to a small bead head nymph a wet mudeye or an elongated damsel type green nymph .

When fishing a nymph be ready as these hard fighting fish can almost rip the rod out of your hand at times.

The Bradys Chain

Fish stocks are down in the system but the three waters are still worth a look. The hot spots are definitely the mouth of the canals and the canals themselves, especially for lures and plastics. For the fly fisher, gum beetles, chironomids and caddis will get the fish up, especially around the tree shores and the island at Bradys.

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