Red October Spinners
  |  First Published: October 2005

October in the Apple Isle is a wonderful time. It is the start of the famous red spinner hatches on the low land rivers, the beginning of the real shallow water bonanza in the highlands, and is pretty darn good for a few stud bream as well.

Lowland waters

The lowland rivers such as the Macquarie, South Esk, Isis, Meander and Break O’Day are all home to mayfly hatches, which have captured the imagination of countless flyfishers. At its best from mid October, the red spinner hatch (or perhaps more correctly a fall) occurs on warm, overcast and still spring days that climb into the magical 20 degrees. Any sort of breeze can have the spinners seeking out shelter in the bank side vegetation, but as soon as the breeze halts, out they come to perform their magical little dance.

Perhaps the most famous destination is the Macquarie, especially on the properties of Valley Field and Stewarton. This is the naturally flowing Macquarie, well above its confluence with the cold tailwaters of Brumbies Creek. The best fly patterns are of course the traditional red spinner flies, the Macquarie Red and the Macquarie Black, with more generic patterns such as hackled duns and floating nymphs all worth a try. Presentation is paramount, and good hunters always do well.

On Brumbies Creek the searching angler can find some of the best tailing trout on the lowlands, especially around shallow areas on the top weir. These fish are preoccupied with scud and small cadis, and can take on the Little Pine untouchables for being hard to catch. Early mornings are best, however late in the afternoon can also yield a few nice fish.

Other places well worth visiting are Four Springs, Tooms Lake and Lake Leake. All these lakes have benefited from regular stockings of brown, brook and rainbow trout, making them a great destination for the travelling angler. For those looking for a trophy, Craigbourne Dam still has a few big Atlantic salmon, as well as a few left in Brushy Lagoon. They are butt ugly, but I guess if you want a big fish you won’t mind so much.


The highlands have benefited from some heavy falls of rain during September, with one fall of ten inches in a day recorded at Breona on the northern end of Great Lake. This has had a great effect on the lake levels, with both Arthurs and Great Lake rising 30 to 40cm in a day. I am sure the hydro will gobble that up pretty quick, but nonetheless it is a welcome event. The western lakes have also received this heavy rain, filling up the waters into good flood filled margins – perfect for those wonderful tails of spring.

In the more popular waters of Great Lake and Arthurs Lake the trout have been hammering the galaxia along the rocky shores, and this will continue right in to November. Boats always reach the best shores, but anglers on foot should try the rocky shore between Ti Tree Bay and the dam wall on Arthurs, as well as the shore between Hydro Bay and Jonah Bay. For wet flies the good oil Olive Woolly Bugger is as good as any. For lure anglers a 3” Bass Minnow in a green or pearly shade is just fine. On Great Lake, the entire western shore round to Becketts Bay has good numbers of galaxia feeders, so pull on those walking boots and get out after them.


Bream are the highlight for this time of year – when aren’t they? The best spots for really big bream are the structure lined estuaries of the Swan, Scamander, Ansons and Derwent. Sea trout are also increasingly on the angling menu. The best action is always the day before I get there, but October is prime time. Rivers such as the Arthur, Pieman and Henty on the west coast; the Rubicon, Forth, Mersey, Tamar and Forrester in the north; and the good old Derwent down south should keep all aficionados very happy. Hope to see you in Tassie some time soon.

Neil Grose is a flyfishing guide based at Rainbow Lodge in the Tasmanian Central Highlands. Neil and his team of specialised guides can offer tailored fishing packages for highland lakes, lowland rivers including raft-based flyfishing, and estuary fishing for bream and other great sport fish. Check out the website www.flyguide.com.au or call Neil and Nicole on (03) 6259 8330 for more details.

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