I have been fly fishing Arthurs for over 40 years and in this time I have experienced the highs and lows: from awesome dun hatches through to tailing trout along the shoreline, to hunting trout polarising to barren shores devoid of anything.
At its peak, Arthurs was just great, catering for all types of fishing – spinning, trolling, bait fishing and of course fly fishing – just terrific. Those of us fly fishing had great early season ‘tailers’, full of shrimp through to early summer dun hatches, it was so prolific at times you had trouble seeing the artificial dry.
Then sadly the extended dry period in the Central Highlands severely affected the lake and, at times, it was half-empty. This had a devastating effect on the food chain.
Nevertheless, Mother Nature can be a wonderful gift at times and over the past 3-4 years, the winter cycle seems to be returning to some normality. In late September 2013, the lake reached full level and basically remained full until late December. In early March 2014, the lake is only 0.87m down – this has never happened before.
The flooded shoreline consisting of drowned kerosene bushes, T-tree, trees, logs, boulders etc. have provided a perfect environment for the food chain to regenerate. And it has!
In September 2013, while fishing the Cow Paddock with my brother Charles and his friend Les from Victoria, there were literally thousands of worms in the flooded margins. However, the trout were ignoring this smorgasbord – we were intrigued. Upon landing several plump browns polarising, followed by a quick autopsy, revealed the trout were gorging themselves on huge damsel nymphs and stick caddis.
Since September 2013 until now, I have experienced some of the best fly fishing ever. The trout have been hard on the shore amongst all the flooded margins in water not much deeper than ankle level. The trout are so intent on feeding, they swim up to you, around you and back, leaving a very small dimple when delicately swallowing a surface morsel.
The fishing tested all your skills, especially casting – I had to improvise all the time – however, the rewards were exhilarating. After polarising a plump 3lb brownie finning 2-3m away, you ‘plonk’ the dry a bit hard, instantly the trout feels the vibrations, turning, spots the dry and commences a very slow and deliberate swim towards the dry, comes up beneath, opening its mouth and swallowing – you lift the rod. The sheer shock on the trout’s face is indescribable! Then the fun begins.
In closing, my good fishing friends Bruce McKean and Hedley Ham from Victoria were recently on their annual Tassie trip and experienced some of the best dry fly fishing in 20 years. Fishing Phantom Bay, Hydro Bay and Pumphouse Bay, landed 48 fish, lost as many again. The trout were in superb condition and ranged from 1/2lb to 3lb. Sensational!
The 2014-2015 season should be a cracker. – Joe MillenReads: 785