Keep an eye on the surface
  |  First Published: March 2013

March is definitely a month of transition in the highlands.

Where the early part of the month can seem more like summer than January, the latter stages definitely belong to autumn, if not winter.

Arthurs Lake

This lake has been something of an enigma this season; some have found it to be excellent, others can’t take a fish! Like all of our highland waters, we have good years, bad years, big fish years and little fish years – it changes all the time. If methods and approaches don’t change with the changing times then anglers will be left “blowin’ in the wind!”

Having said that, March for me is always the most challenging of months on Arthurs. At some stage for 10 days or so this month the fish seem to focus on small shrimp/scud in the 3m deep range, making life quite hard for the surface loving dry fly fisher.

Trollers and drift spinners by contrast will do extremely well at this time, just choose lures with some orange in the colour scheme somewhere.

By month’s end there will be a slow migration to the northern end of the lake (on both sides of the island) where the main spawning creeks lie. Even though these creeks might have no flow at all, trout still will have the instinct to head for a spawning creek, even if they don’t actually spawn until June!

Having said all of the above, March is the prime month for the gum beetle and midge munching wind lane feeders – calm mornings should see anglers heading here rather than Great Lake, as the fish will be plentiful and far easier to catch.

Great Lake

The ‘big lake’ has been splendid this season, with many fish being regarded as ‘good’, rather than the skinny fish of season’s past: maybe we do have something to thank the cormorants for!

While the angle of the sun may limit good boat-based polaroiding to all but the bluest of blue sky days, it still is a worthwhile pursuit, especially once the gum beetles trickle off those timbered northern shores. Failing that the drifting of big black foam flies along rocky shores will always undo a fish or three.

As with Arthurs, wind lanes are the source of much angling pleasure this month, although be aware that in the clear water they are far harder to trick than their counterparts over the hill at Arthurs Lake.

As always in late March we scan every black dot on the water to see if it is a jassid – those fabled insects which trout love as much as I love fruit cake, (which is a lot).

We can only hope, but I suspect we will have to be content with trout feeding on gum beetles, midges and our dry flies.

Searching for beetle feeders on a calm Great Lake afternoon.

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