How good can it get?
  |  First Published: August 2009

If there was ever a time to take a break from work and chase a few trout it would be this September. We have all seen wet winters like this before, but given that we haven’t had water like this for nearly five years one can only lick the lips in anticipation.

Good rain throughout July and August has kept many of the popular flyfishing waters high and rising, which the stalwarts of the highland scene in Arthurs and Great Lake have both risen nearly two vertical metres – now that is a few cups of tea!

Bronte Chain of lakes

Bronte is one of those fabulous waters where you can pretty much always find a fish on the shore. The level has been consistently high, only fluctuating around 30cm or so between rainfalls. Little Pine has been spilling a lot, which I turn spills Pine Tier Lagoon which in turn means that Bronte gets a lot of water too. This keeps the water up in the tussocks and keeps our old friend the brown trout foraging for a feed.

Even though the high levels brings heaps of fish in close, deep fishing along the Long Shore and between Canal Bay and Tailers Bay will still result in some fat fish. Deep fishing plastics and crankbaits is very rewarding here – the trollers do well with a few colours of lead-line out too.

Further west Lake King William is almost too high for effective shore fishing, however if you can get a boat into the Guelph Basin you should find some shore feeding fish. While the numbers of fish are huge in here, they don’t have much size to them – good for beginners though.

Like King William, Lake St Clair has a heap of water pushing through the basin and frog pond, it might be a better bet to wait till it subsides a little, there is a lot of cold water in there.

Little Pine Lagoon

This waterway probably gets fished more than any other fly fishery at this time of year – mainly because it’s so very good. Very reliable reports recently of tailing fish along the back shore and in the untouchables – many of these fish are falling to a Red Tag drifted over them. When the Pine spills as it has a lot lately the fish will forage into the flooded margins to feed on anything they can find. Dry flies are well on the agenda because many of the corby grubs will float, especially if the level is rising.

As the level receded they get a little more touchy, when anglers will need to revert to static presentations of Stick Caddis or 007 patterns under a dry fly.

Wild and woolly days are a wet fly fishers dream, whether from boat or shore. Get it out, let it sink and strip it back in with a few pauses and slow figure eights. Pine fish love to chase a big wet, even better if it has a lot of flash in the dressing.

Great Lake

Great Lake is still rising fast – dare I say too fast? While more water is better than not enough, most of the shores which are being flooded will take a while for the food to follow in. Rocky shores are notoriously barren after being dry for a few years, but give t a month or so and the stick caddis will be in there in droves – and so will the fish.

Bays that have covered mud flats or grassy areas like Haddens Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Dud Bay, Little Lake Bay and parts of Tods Corner will see plenty of shallow water action, but if classical tailers are your thing then maybe somewhere else is a better bet.

For the lure angler the lake is fishing very well indeed, especially around the southern parts. Becketts Bay and McClanaghans Island are tops for deep fished lures, particularly if your sounder will show you the drop off to the original lake bed. It is on the top side of this where the weed and shrimp/scud have established, and in turn houses the bigger fish.

There are some very reliable reports around of very large fish in the 4-6lb bracket being taken on massive lures (around 6” long) but fished very deep. When you think about the size of a big trout and some of the galaxia that live in the lake it makes good sense to fish some extra oversize lures.

Arthurs Lake

This lake is the jewel in the crown to many anglers, and it is nice to see the level rising back to where we’d all like to see it.

Opening weekend saw plenty of fish caught, although the high winds and low barometer meant that fishing was tough at times. Lure fishers always do well in Arthurs, one party catching around 20 fish for the day and calling it slow!

The water is creeping over land that has been dry for three years, and the trout are starting to look for food flushed out by this rising water. Not all shores are productive for this style of fishing, but anglers should concentrate on the bay in front of the shacks. A number of anglers are reporting seeing fish rising around this area too – maybe on midges but also perhaps on floating bugs like spiders and corby grubs.

Boat fishers still need to be extremely careful negotiating the lake, especially in the Morass area. The rising level will re-float logs and make for some difficult-to-see hazards.

September usually sees the first of the dry fly action on the lake as the stoneflies start to hatch, so don’t be tricked into fishing deep water all the time – there will be some excellent shallow water actions as well.

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