Low altitude streams are the focus for surface action
  |  First Published: October 2013

Lowland rivers of Tasmania and Victoria should be starting to really fire up with last month producing some good early action on the dry fly.

This month we should see a peak in the activity and the start of some awesome mayfly hatches that really excite us all. There’s a lot to talk about, the words caenids, spinners, duns and caddis all spark a frenzy of activity, and provide a spectacle of rising or leaping trout.

A Day on the River

Of a morning, the tiny caenid mayfly has really been prolific on northern Tasmanian streams in the last few years. Gentleman’s hours of 10am-2pm were once considered the best time of the day to fish a river, but with the caenid mayfly hatching and falling in massive clouds overnight on balmy spring/early summer nights, starting your day on the river at crack of dawn is very worthwhile.

The water surface in slower pools and broad waters of rivers are blanketed in these small white spent adult caenid delights. Trout feeding on them will be sipping or finning in the riffles of the current ever so gently, so flies need to be small and delicate, and tippets need to be very light for the best presentation. When you cast over a rising fish, make sure you only cover it with the end 30-40cm of your tippet as not to spook it.

The best flies to present to these midging river fish are very small caenid pattern, gnats, Adams variations and very small mayfly dun imitations.

Wind is your enemy for caenid feeders as it usually subdues to the rises, so calm balmy mornings are best. Your wading stealth and casting must be spot on as these fish can be quite fussy and attuned to sipping only spent caenids for the first few hours of the day.


Warm or overcast spring days rate as one of my favourite times to fish a river. Late October into November is, I believe, the best mayfly time on lowland rivers of Tasmania and those in Victoria, as the larger mayfly species should start to emerge daily and sail down the current like little sail boats in big numbers in good weather.

Rises on good days to duns can be a season highlight and rival those on the central highland lakes. Tippets can be bulked up just a tad from the morning caenid session, and flies upsized to either an adult or emergent dun/mayfly pattern. Many of the duns on some rivers are a lot closer to grey in colour than their highland cousins. I like the good old Adams dry fly in many instances. This is also definitely a great fly for a lot of good Victorian mayfly rivers as well!

Clouds of adult mayfly spinners doing their ritual dance above the water will also be seen on humid days, which can frustrate anglers at times as the trout will hone in on the egg laying insects above the water and leap at them to catch them in mid air, and ignore most surface presentation.

Persistent casting can win them over, as well as skating your fly, and funny enough they do respond to a nymph dropper or wet spider patter. If refusals persist it pays to move on and find rising trout further on, as there shouldn’t be a shortage of rising fish this time of year.

Around the new leaves of willow trees, and lush green banks, clouds of white caddis are a common sight as well. Along the tea tree lined streams these caddis hatches can be enormous.

Last year was a little quiet on the caddis side on my local rivers of the mid-north west like the Leven and Mersey, but I reckon they will be back with vengeance in this year’s cycle.

You will often see a trout or two slashing underneath the insect cloud, and the good old Elk Hair Caddis flies is great, but to save changing flies for every rising fish, stick to a grey Adams as they do look similar to a caddis as well!


The evening rise can be a great fall back if you have had a tough day, or just want to cap off a great one!

Whilst a lot of separate things happen during the day, warm calm evenings can see all the fly life make one last big showing for the day, or in the case of the often nocturnal caenids, an early start!

Forget walking a long way upstream, just pick out a nice short section of river; inflows to broad waters are ideal, and sit and watch for rises and cast to them. The trout population almost seems to double in front of your eyes in the evening and a lot of holes you thought only held a few fish, actually hold a lot of fish!

Evening is my favourite for targeting bigger fish too as they often come out of their deep lairs or logs to participate in the feast.

Tippet and presentation in the waning light are not as important and often it is advantageous to bulk up a pound or two in case of that unexpected leviathan that might sip your fly down.

Fly choice is pretty simple, just persist with a dun, emerger or spinner pattern of your choice.

I love the Adams, but make sure it is a fly you can see in the fading light, so no smaller than a size 12.

All in all it is a very exciting time, and I hope you enjoy some good mayfly fishing on your local river.

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