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Water, water everywhere – now the fishing starts
  |  First Published: October 2013



Just a few weeks and everything can be flipped around 180, altering almost every element conducive to productive and enjoyable fishing.

Like the flash flooding around Launceston in mid-August, where major rivers like the North and South Esk rose very quickly and seasonal creeks became raging rivers. While it temporarily postponed the start to our trout season, it’s a cyclic event that is of benefit to our waters in the long term.

Four Springs

Fluctuating levels on the rivers have seen anglers flocking to still waters like Brushy Lagoon and Four Springs, with the latter producing some great sessions for the lure angler. Despite surveys late last season suggesting this water had been experiencing some difficulty due to low catch rates, anglers put a spin on the theory with 126 anglers over the opening weekend catching 149 brown trout and 16 rainbow trout between them and making this one of the most productive waters in the state during opening weekend.

Interestingly, just 17% of these fish were some of the 2000 (700g) fish stocked into the lake in late May 2013. Many fish caught were between 1-2.5kg with a couple of semi-whoppers thrown into the mix. Most successful methods by far were hardbodied lures and soft plastics worked around the shoreline, but a few of the fly brigade got on the board with persistent wet fly casting.

Moving forward, we can expect catch rates to drop off once again at Four Springs. It often fishes well early and late in the season but becomes tough unless hatches trigger activity. Even still, mayfly hatches will start soon (around Launceston Show Day) and unless you’re there in the right hour on the right day, you may still miss out! Overcast and warm-ish days are your best bet and when the fish are up on the mayflies, you better have your game on.

This is where the fly trumps all other methods, with plastics and hardbodied lures useless when fish are taking mayflies off the top – believe me many have tried! I find a two-fly rig best, mostly tying on a black or red parachute-style dun/spinner with a Possum Emerger or CDC emerger dropper. Flies that sit low in the water seem to work best and even a slight touch of flash or sparkle in the emerger can help them stand out of the crowd. Don’t go overboard, it’s not Mardi Gras.

Mayflies

As river levels settle and clarity improves, so does the fishing. As mentioned before, mid-October sees mayfly activity begin and this includes the lowland rivers. Overcast days once again will be the key but if the wind is up, forget it. A light breeze at most will suffice but anything more will hamper the plight of this mediocre aviator.

Brumbys Creek, the Macquarie, Meander, Mersey and South Esk rivers along with a handful of smaller streams will be hot spots, where both black and red spinner mayflies will dominate daytime opportunities, especially between 10am to 3pm. During the middle of the day, fine leaders and more subtle patterns could turn a tough session into something less embarrassing!

For the early riser, keep an eye of for the caenid hatch – tiny little mayflies in huge numbers that often hatch very early, sometimes when it’s pitch black. I’ve been on the river when the sun comes up to find that a hatch is done and dusted, with spent caenids the only evidence. Well, that and the fact that there’s any number of subtle rings on the waters’ surface caused by the rising trout. Much of the caenid action can be over by mid-morning and that’s often when the larger duns and spinners take over. In particular, the Meander and Mersey rivers experienced great caenid fishing last season, let’s hope the trend continues. CDC F Flies, small Black Spinners, Possum Emergers and even Iron Blue Dun variants can work well but they have to be small (size 16-18) and sit low in the water.

Sea Runners

By now, sea-run brown trout would have invaded many northern rivers and estuaries, enticed in large by the influx of millions of spawning whitebait. They are a challenging prospect but utterly intriguing and hold special appeal to those who are under the sea-run spell. The shimmer of their silver flanks and the fact that you can essentially catch a trout where you may normally encounter a bream or flathead, takes some time to adapt to!

There are many lure and fly options to imitate the whitebait but in my limited success; I’ve found something a touch darker than the natural bait can help your presentation get noticed. In any case, whitebait can change colour as they head upstream, sometimes looking black in tannin-stained waters. In saltier shores, they are quite translucent. The Tailrace is a reliable location, as is the North Esk to St Leonards, the South Esk in the Gorge and even up around the suspension bridge! Further afield the Great Forester is probably of most renown.

October is an exciting time for trout fishing with so many options and trigger events to get the trout fired up. There’s no excuse for sitting around consuming the spoils of your children’s show bags!

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