For many anglers, the idea of flyfishing Tasmania is a mind-bending roller coaster. On one hand, there is the knowledge that some of the country’s – or for that matter, the world’s – best flyfishing is on offer. On the other hand, is the knowledge that this can be a hard nut to crack. One bay of one particular lake may be firing while the rest of the lake is idle… and, of course, that will change as often as the weather. Local knowledge in Tasmania is definitely the key to success.
That said, Tasmania is still one of the mainstays for Australian flyfishers as a holiday destination. With overcoming the uncertainty of the newcomer and experienced angler in mind, Neil Grose, along with his wife Nicole, has set up a wonderful guiding operation. Based on Great Lake, in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, they have the best of the state’s fisheries within easy reach.
Born and bred in Tasmania, Neil has been guiding in the Central Highlands for the past eight years. His specialty is sight fishing on lakes such as Arthurs, Great Lake and Penstock while exploiting the magnificent mayfly hatches, beetle falls and windlane and polarising opportunities that these lakes provide.
Neil is recognised as a pioneer in Australia of the English dry fly loch style technique – a technique largely overlooked by all but a few switched on guides in Tasmania’s highlands. ‘Essential Fly Fishing Techniques for Australian Lakes’, a book written by Neil in 2001, highlights his knowledge and passion for the sport of flyfishing.
Not content to just offer guiding, Neil and Nicole have spent the off-season setting up Rainbow Lodge, among the fishing shacks of Miena. Rainbow Lodge overlooks the Great Lake and provides all the comforts of home for the weary angler at the end of a long day of chasing trout.
Meals are supplied by Nicole and I can say from first-hand experience that the food is first rate and there is no way you will go hungry! To accompany the food, Rainbow Lodge is also stocked with a great range of local red and white wine as well as local beers. The comforts of Rainbow Lodge make it easy for a non-fishing partner to relax in the surrounds of the highlands while you chase the trout.
For most, a trip to Tasmania’s highlands is all about getting away from the stresses of the modern world. To make life even easier, Rainbow Lodge also has all the mod-cons from CD and DVD players to plug-in and phone line internet connections – it’s all within easy reach. Of course, at the end of the day you can just as easily curl up on the lounge with a good book (also supplied) and sip a local red.
Although Tasmania’s fishing largely revolves around fishing ‘gentlemen’s hours’ between 9am and 6pm, Neil’s set-up also allows for early morning ‘dawn patrols’ or fishing the last of an evening rise as the sunsets. To a certain extent, that’s one of the things that make the Central Highlands of Tasmania such a special place. You can rise as late as 10am and be back at 5pm and still have great fishing. Or, you can go hunting for the legendary tailers at first light, rest during the middle of the day, and then hit the water again for the evening rise. Of course, this will depend on the time of year and prevailing weather.
A report on Tasmanian guiding would not be complete without a few words on the western lakes, an area renowned as having some of the best polarising in the world. Neil arranges several trips a year into this area for multi-day camp outs. This is where you’ll have your best chance at casting to the big brown trout for which the state is famous. Be prepared, as a certain level of fitness is needed for this wilderness experience.
Neil says there are several aspects that make his operation stand out from the pack:
“Our aim is to provide guiding and accommodation with the highest possible level of service for guests at a reasonable cost. We pride ourselves in going that extra step to ensure that people really enjoy their fishing holiday in Tasmania.
“The team at Rainbow Lodge will tailor each guided fishing experience to suit the individual angler’s needs – some anglers want challenging fishing to big fish, others want lots of fish, others, yet again, want a total sight fishing experience or to learn about specific techniques.
“We work hard to ensure that we know what is happening with the fishing in the highlands all the time. We are on the water every day, whether guiding or enjoying the fishing ourselves, so we know what is biting and where. We have great fun, we have great service and we deliver a great flyfishing experience.”
What it costs
Accommodation at Rainbow Lodge is $150 per night for a single angler or as little as $60 per night per person for 4-6 guests. Meals are supplied for breakfast and dinner for an extra $40 a head (a gourmet lunch is supplied as part of the guiding package). The lodge is a private lodge, so only one group is in at a time – whether one angler or six, it’s all yours.
Guiding starts at $550 for a single angler and is at its most economical when shared among three anglers where a fee of $260 per person will apply. Of course, you’re also sharing the fishing.
While Neil provides almost everything that’s needed for a day on the water including food and drinks, it’s advised to bring your own wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, camera and wet weather gear… as well as plenty of warm clothing.
For more information, checkout the website www.flyguide.com.au or call 0407 879 941.