Trout fishers wait for this month like no other in the year. We have better months for hatches and for being on the water, but no other month begins a new trout season.
August promises much this year for the highland trout fisher – heaps of winter rain, piles of snow and no drawdown on the lakes means that the magical ingredient is mixed with the trout – high water.
Early season dynamics have changed in the past 20 years – when I was a kid there would be a ring of campfires around Great Lake with anglers waiting to lob their bait into the middle of the lake on the strike of midnight.
Now-a-days you are more likely to see a flotilla of sport fishing boats heading out at first light to cast soft plastics and hard bodies into the gloom in anticipation of that first great tug of the season.
Most keen anglers have been watching the Hydro web site watching the daily progress of the two most popular lakes in Tasmania – Great Lake and Arthurs Lake. Arthurs has risen from the doldrums of 5.8m below full at the end of the season to 4.3m below full the week before the season opens. That is a massive amount of water and will have plenty of browns feeding in close when conditions permit.
There is still a long way to go before we get the Cowpaddock full again, but the shores leading down from it will be one of the spots to look for early shore-based action. Other good spots to start with are the shores on either side of Hydro Creek, the flats out in front of the shacks at Flintstone, Creely Bay, Tee-Tree Bay, Stumps Bay on the bottom of the islands and the shores leading into Tumbledown Bay.
Best conditions will be a warm morning (anything over 2 degrees) and plenty of thick cloud. Bright and frosty mornings won’t be much chop as the edges will be frozen and the trout tucked up in their weed-bed doonas!
For the boat based anglers it will pay to hit the outside of the dead trees on the weed-beds which will have thickened after two years of extra sunlight. Trout make a bee line for these weed-beds after spawning to feed on the scud and snails. They still aren’t too deep, so don’t think you need the heavy gear to get down to them.
Exposed rocky shores will also be well worth a flick, as the fish will be keen to see if there is any food being washed out from around the newly drowned ground. Shore spinners and wet fly flickers can find some good early season action on the shore, especially from Wilburville around Snake Point and back to the Dam Wall.
The lagoon has spilled three or four times during winter – always a good sign of a great season coming up. Wet fly opportunities are awesome here, a drifting boat and two flies on a sink tip line are pretty much all you need. It isn’t subtle, two Bill Beck Cat Flies (a Green Machine and the yellow one) and give them a big pull. Remember to hang them at the boat too. A good dropper fly is always the Alexandra – bright and shiny.
If the wind is north west pop the boat over towards Senators Rocks and drift back across the lake – this is my favourite wet fly spot on the lake. You can generally pick up Bill Beck’s flies at the Great Lake shop – the coffee isn’t too bad either!
Penstock is always a great early season water – and can offer a calm respite if the weather keeps to current form. Inland Fisheries stocked adult browns in here from Great Lake early in winter and as usual these fish will be the first to your fly. They seem to be stocked in here with a pair of silly boots on – they are very willing in August.
If you are lucky the over-wintered rainbows will also be on the prowl. There is a deeper hole towards the northern wall from the shacks – many of the browns hang around in here and it is worth exploring with a big black wet fly and a sinking fly line.
Regular attendees at this water should also be aware that Hydro (who are responsible for this lagoon) are considering making it an electric engine only water. This will be very interesting to follow and has pros and cons as usual.
If you are looking for a lake with massive potential yet hardly any one on the water then Echo is for you. Improved access and some clever stocking of rainbows by the Inland Fisheries Service really makes this water on top of my ‘to-do’ list this season. Three years ago IFS stocked triploid rainbows in here, and the general consensus is that these fish will be around 4lbs this season.
Last year Echo fished very well for those prepared to make the trip in, especially early in the season when deep fished plastics pulled many nice browns. The outside of the trees is the hot spot, and now with a decent boat ramp towards the northern section of the lake we can shoot up to the productive northern bays like Teal Bay and Large Bay without getting blown off the water.
Great Lake has fished quite well this winter; although the rapidly rising level has left most post spawn browns out on the weed-beds and slightly out of reach of the shore fisher. Whereas we had many shore-based galaxia feeders last July, they have been a bit scarce so far. However with the level rising and some shores now flooded that have been dry for a few years we can expect both galaxia and trout to venture in for a feed.
Elizabeth Bay and Tods Corner are good bays when the lake starts to rise, and boat-based anglers should spend some time at Breona and head up towards where Half Moon Creek runs in.
Exposed rocky areas such as Becketts Bay and MacClanachans Point and Island are very reliable for drift spinners casting into shore and retrieving Ashley Spinners, lipless crankbaits and the Berkley T-Tail in gold and black. Flyfishers do well in these spots as dusk approaches too, but you will be in for a chilly ride back to the ramp.Reads: 1564