Spring didn’t last long this year – the seam between a bitterly cold winter and a warm summer was about two days!
November saw the first of the warm ‘beetle’ days, as the highlands scorched with 20+ days. It didn’t take long for the trout to work out what was going on, with some brilliant fishing during November.
Dry flyfishers pounced on the opportunities as beetles hit the water in enough numbers to make your dry fly look extra attractive.
The warm weather in November has meant that mayfly hatches are well under way as we head into the first month of summer. December can resemble spring rather than summer, but now that mayflies have started to hatch with regularity we can expect reliable action no matter what the weather (within reason).
The level has stabilised for summer, with inflows not quite keeping pace with irrigation and hydro demand downstream. This is normal for Great Lake, and all the insects such as scud and stick caddis that invaded the shores while it was rising, will now have to beat a retreat.
This leads to an accumulation of food along the edges, bringing trout, especially brown trout, in close to feed. These trout are easily polaroided on sunny days, especially in Canal Bay, Boundary Bay, Swan Bay and Tods Corner. Canal Bay can get a bit boggy in the silt, so take care.
Spin fishers will do extremely well by targeting the shores onto which the wind is blowing, particularly on cloudy days. The rougher the better, and while boat anglers will need to be mindful of safety, bank based anglers who can pitch a lure into the wind will have a ball.
Black and gold lures are a standout this season, with the Berkley T Tail in gold and black a must have plastic.
Arthurs has been through the wringer in the past couple of years, so we can only hope that the powers-that-be leave the water at a reasonable level over summer.
All eyes will be on the mayfly action to see if it can bounce back. There have been sporadic hatches in the Cowpaddock, which is very encouraging as the water has only been back in here for five months or so.
While we wait in anticipation of mayfly hatches, the beetles and midges have kept the trout looking towards the surface. December often sees a fading of beetle action, but calm mornings and evenings will always see the midges hatch.
As always look for the windlanes and slicks – don’t be scared to look right out in the middle of the lake, some of my best days have come from deep water rises to beetles and midges.
Lure anglers have reported patchy results, however the Morass is always reliable for trollers and spin fishers alike, as is Hydro Bay and Creely Bay.
Echo continues to fish very well, and while the level has stopped rising, the fish haven’t stopped feeding in close to shore. Echo is a beetle paradise, and unlike Arthurs Lake, the beetles will fall all summers on the warm and sunny days.
Spin fishers do well by fishing deep along the drowned timber, and some of the new Berkley MF40 plastic vibes are working a treat.
Flyfishers shoud keep an eye out for slicks and big foam lines on warm December days, as some of the triploid rainbows in Echo love nothing better than to cruise in deep water looing for beetles.
The 19 Lagoons have resembled a car park recently, and while the fishing has been ok, many regulars are looking for wade polaroiding action in other areas. To get some solitude it has been necessary to either start very early on the blue-sky days or walk out into some of the more remote lakes. This often involves a 15-20km walk, which isn’t for the faint-hearted or ill prepared.
Great Lake and Arthurs Lake has some terrific wade polaroiding, so if it is mid morning and you aren’t already out west, I’d be planning something closer to home; it will be a lot better than trying to compete for space in the ‘wilderness’ lakes.
The two jewels in the highland crown are at their best right now.
Little Pine continues to deliver tremendous action and fish, in spite of its popularity. The dun hatches here are starting to kick into gear, and any dull day is likely to see the water covered in these wonderful insects.
It does get very busy here, but if it is a windy day you will be better off in the strongest of the wind – which is where the best fishing will be. Most boats won’t be bothered with the windy, open waters and will hug sheltered shores.
It is also worth noting that most Pine regulars are off the water by 4pm, which often can be the start of the best fishing as the better fish start mopping up the remnants of the hatch.
Penstock Lagoon is amazing – just how does this shallow little water continue to deliver so much?
The duns started hatching here in late October, and together with evening spinner falls delivers some of the best mayfly-induced fishing in the highlands.
It never ceases to amaze me how many boats will be on the water at 1pm, yet the lake is essentially deserted by 4pm.
All the biggest hatches I have seen here have either started at 10am or 5pm.Reads: 1025