We’ve had everything recently in the southern highlands from light snow falls to blistering heat and unfortunately plenty of wind, and not friendly helpful breezes either.
There have been a few fish caught though when keen anglers have been out, with Bronte Lagoon, Pine Tier Lagoon and St Clair Lagoon and most other waters all giving up some good fish.
Lake Meadowbank usually has a reasonable orange spinner hatch in March and good fishing to early morning chironomid feeders but saying this and as I reported earlier in the season, the Hydro are planning to draw the lake down to the old Derwent river for dam maintenance, so if you are planning a trip here it may pay to check on the lake level first.
Cluny Lagoon and Lake Repulse usually have some great fishing to terrestrial feeders at this time of the year also but I don’t know how the recent fires that have decimated the surrounding bush and grasslands will affect the beetle and Grasshopper population for the fly fisher hoping to find rising and cruising fish, the lure fishing should be as good as ever though you would think.
Fish numbers are down in the chain but that’s not to say you won’t find fish working if a fall of beetles or flying ants occurs, as March is the month for these insects. The main bodies of the three waters have been slow for the trollers so concentrate on the White Water area and the interconnecting canals for your boat and shore based lure fishing especially so if there is moving water in these areas.
There should be plenty of freshly hatched gum beetles around by March so nice warm days with a bit of breeze will get them in the air and on the water, where they won’t last too long before they get snavelled up! The orange caddis will also be on the trout menu, especially around any of the tussock-lined shores. If you feel the need to get as much fishing in as possible, the early morning chironomid hatch is nearly always reliable in settled weather.
Arguably the best month of the year for this beautiful water, with trees growing right to the water’s edge around just about the whole of the shoreline it’s a great beetle water and dare I say it, a great place to find the fabled jassid which hopefully will start to appear in dribs and drabs all over the highlands by late February.
To get the best of the fishing this water really is best fished from a boat, because of the forested shoreline and also to take advantage of the wind direction and the good wind lane fishing. It’s not all terrestrials here though, the Dee is famous for its chironomid feeders and there will be the odd fish feeding on the Dee’s orange spinners on those beautiful calm days that we will hopefully have!
There are some real horses in the Lagoon, driving back from the highlands recently I ran into a bloke that I know who told me about the 2.5kg cleaned rainbow that landed on the Dee last March during a massive gum beetle fall. If you find them on the beetles, don’t get too fancy with your fly selection, all you need is a size 12 or 10 Gibson Gum Beetle. It’s all about speed and accuracy with your presentation to the fish; the rainbows really motor when feeding on the beetles, thankfully though the browns are better behaved they leisurely patrol the shores and around the logs mopping them up.
The Guelph Basin has been fishing well, with a recent report of a Bradys Lake local landing 18 here and losing and missing the same amount again, all on dry fly. There have been a few other similar reports from the Guelph including a couple of bigger than average rainbows taken from the area. King William is always worth a shot and it can produce a few surprises.
With the usually much more settled weather in March Lake Burbury really should be on the to do list; the fishing to Burbury’s midging fish is exceptional. While a boat is advantageous, there are places that you can find, with a bit of not too difficult searching, where you can easily fish from the shore. Expect to lose some fish in the sticks but that’s half of the fun.
A good place where there is easy access is to the right of the boat ramp at the caravan park there are plenty of fish working close to the shore here early morning and evening and heaps of shore line to wander along.