Once again the season is open in the majority of our inland waters, and while dry and cold would be an apt description of the winter so far, at least the season is open.
I have a firm view that many of the highland waters fish better in August than they do in September – maybe not for surface fishing, but for lure and wet fly fishers this is the month to really give it a crack. Waters like Little Pine Lagoon and the Cowpaddock Bay area of Arthurs Lake are superb wet fly waters in August – chilly yes, but hey, that’s Tassie all over!
At around 1.5m below full supply, Arthurs has consistently had more water in it for the past two years than it ever has. The jury remains out as far as whether this is a good thing or not, but as sure as eggs the level will start to drop this summer. Irrigation demand will be high on the Lake River this spring and summer after a dry winter, and once Woods Lake gets too low then it is Arthurs that has to fill the void to keep those poppies growing.
From my experience, Arthurs fishes best from about 2.2m below full to about 3.5m below full. At -3.5m the Cowpaddock is for the shore angler only, (which is not such a bad thing), but some awesome areas in the rest of the lake come into play, but more of that as we approach summer.
In August many of Arthurs trout are feeding on either scud or daphnia. Daphnia is sort of like a small water flea, and is often found in the mid levels of the lake. Trollers catch most of the daphnia feeders, as lure casters and fly fishers are either below them or above them. Open water areas in the Morass, off Creely Bay and up the eastern side of the Morass to the subsidiary dam are the most reliable spots for this activity.
These fish are often in terrific condition with silver flanks and bright red flesh. Orange seems to be a colour that daphnia feeders lover – don’t know why though.
Scud feeders are often found in around 3-4m of water, and basically cruise around on the bottom looking for these high protein critters. They are dull olive in colour and crawl on the weeds and so on. Suffice to say your fly or lure needs to be on the bottom.
Slow and deep fishing is the trick, but mix it up with the occasional quick strip. Soft plastic anglers would be well advised to use the trusty old sink and hop retrieve. The fly set up I use for water 3-4m deep is a clear intermediate sink tip line with a long leader (up to 6m) that terminates with just one fly, either a Woolly Bugger with plenty of movement or a single weighted scud pattern.
Boisterous days are best served by fishing the rocky shores as you would on Great Lake, as trout will be feeding heavily on dislodged stick caddis, galaxia and anything else that drifts along.
Calm mornings (that aren’t too frosty) are excellent out in the Morass around the trees – here you will have the best chance of August dry fly success!
Little Pine relies on a good winter flush or three to start off well. Looking at the Hydro web site I can see that the last big spill of the Pine was in September last year. This is pretty much the reason why Little Pine fished poorly last season and the water became discoloured in summer. Big winter and spring flushes/spills and it kicks on well – dry winter, not so much.
Having said that, despite a poor winter rainfall, it will be fantastic in August for the big fly pullers. Tailing fish are always possible, and I’ve even seen trout tailing on the Pine in July on a reconnaissance walk a few seasons ago.
A good mode of attack for Little Pine is to walk the shore early in the morning up around the river (on both sides), Scotties Bay and the Road Shore for a swirl or two, then hop into the boat with a thermos and pull some wet flies down deep.
I’ve had some awesome opening days on the Pine pulling a couple of Fuzzle Buggers on a type 5 sinking line. In spite of the cold water, they seem to respond well to fast moving flies, and will often take the fly when it is hung boat-side prior to the next cast.
Little Pine has some of the best eating fish in the highlands too, so eat up!
The level in Woods has been slipping down considerably since October last year. I’m not sure that this is so much of an issue here though. Woods is one of the most popular destinations in the opening month, and for very good reason, it fishes well. At about 200m lower than Arthurs it should (in theory at least) be warmer, and I suspect that the trout here never really go off the job over winter. I also predict (is this a good idea?) that the fish in Woods will be much bigger this season, as without the input of much winter rain down the upper Lake River the spawning run will be modest at best.
That mob of 500g fish so often encountered last season will be bigger, and they basically came from the years when Arthurs was being drained via Woods, giving rise to good spawning conditions. As with Arthurs, Woods fish love an early season feed of scud, but the bigger fish will be focussed on galaxia as well.
At this level it will be well worth a look along the north and north west shores where it is grassy/marshy for some trout looking for a frog or two or just tailing away. The southern shore is good for this too, especially on those light southerly days when the sun never pokes through.
As a shallow water, trollers and lure casters never have to worry too much about getting deep enough, although as the season warms then weed will be a darn nuisance. This also means that those blanket mayfly hatches that seemingly cover the whole lake will return – fingers crossed.
Woods Lake also has benefitted from some recent work on the ramp courtesy of MAST and IFS. Hopefully this helps immeasurably with the less mobile of our angling fraternity, and remember if you are fit and able give some one a hand, you just might need one too one day.
For fly fishers, green is the top colour with a flash of orange or red in the mix, and lure fishers are well served by the trusty black and gold combination in plastics and hardbodied lures.Reads: 1350