Round and round, back to front
  |  First Published: December 2013

The more you examine it, the more you realise how complex the fishing environment actually is.

Wind, air temperatures, water temperatures, water levels, past flooding events, fertility, predators, prey and barometric pressure can all have a significant impact on fish numbers or feeding habits.

Back to Front?

No matter how much you read or how educated you are, there is a lot of uncertainty in fishing, especially in relation to the days ahead and what to expect.

One thing you can count on is the fact that trout tend to shut down during an approaching cold front or dropping barometer. You can hear folk yarning in the corner of the tackle shop, “Nah, no good mate – front’s on the way” or a brief chat to a stalwart of the river as they mutter “Yeah, nah, droppin’ barometer cobber, you shoulda been here yesty”.

It’s common belief that this historical fishing lore comes down to low pressure systems lowering the ability of freshwater to take on oxygen, coupled with the fact that overcast days (often associated with cold fronts) deny aquatic plants of their ability to photosynthesise, therefore, instead of producing oxygen, they absorb it. See where this is going? Fish need oxygen and quickly lowering their supply can give them a heavy dose of ‘lock-jaw’.

The reason I’ve mentioned this, is that Launceston (and much of Tassie) has experienced continuous cycles of cold fronts since the start of the season, making consistent action problematic.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some good little sessions since mayfly hatches commenced but just as action starts to get underway, a front quickly moves in.

Add to this that rivers have just started to come back from regular flooding and it’s a bit of a challenge. Good news is, when a front has passed and the barometer is on the rise, fish generally respond well.

The Black Plague

The full effect of cormorants around our northern rivers is becoming apparent. Large sections of reliable stretches are void of fish or revealing low numbers. Some rivers have been hit harder than others too, and although electro-fishing surveys back up the suspicion, they are subjective.

The best measure of population is probably regular fishing and observation by knowledgeable, local anglers. For the most part, I think most cormorants have moved on but I have spotted the odd ‘black plague’ in the North Esk and I’ve had reports of them still loitering on the Meander River.

Christmas Presence

Moving forward, you could expect that mayfly and damselfly action will continue to dominate river activity and as we move toward Christmas, mudeyes should start to appear in the still waters and terrestrials like grasshoppers soon after.

As I mentioned last time too, the early bird gets the worm. Meaning, be on the water before the sun gets up to experience some of that juicy caenid action. Once that light gets on the water they can shut down pretty quickly.

This sometimes coincides with more settled conditions too, which is a pleasure to fish compared to some of those gales we have had to endure! Whatever way you choose to fish and whatever time of day, be sure to take advantage of those days off and make your presence known on the water around that holiday period.

Australian Fly Fishing Museum

If you get the chance, be sure to slip out to the Australian Fly Fishing Museum at Clarendon Estate (Just south of Evandale) – A wonderful tribute to the history of fly fishing in Australia, how trout became to be here 150 years ago, an amazing collection of books and equipment, plus details of those influential individuals that turned their obsessions into careers many decades ago. The estate will be having an open day on December 1st and there will be some fly tying demonstrations and free entry into the museum as part of this.

The AFFM will be running an amazing photography competition soon too – Keep an eye out!

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