Sight Fishing Heaven
  |  First Published: December 2009

January is perhaps the best month in the year for sight fishing the highland lakes.

Amongst the best of these sight fishing opportunities is on Great Lake. While the 19 Lagoons provides a world class sight fishery, the open expanses of Great Lake offers boat and shore based anglers with a multitude of options.

Great Lake

January on Great Lake normally delivers plenty of blue sky days and fresh northerly winds – perfect for sight fishing. The open expanses of the northern half of the lake is perfect for boat-based polaroiding – locally called shark fishing. On the right day the browns and to a lesser extent the rainbows cruise the top layers of the water looking for beetles and other wind blown food.

Perfect conditions rely upon a bright blue sky day and a northerly wind. These conditions have the sun and wind from the same direction, allowing perfect vision into the water with the aid of polarised sunglasses.

The northern half of the lake has plenty of trees lining the shore, and it is these trees which spill the beetles onto the water.

Best flies to use are the Bruce Gibson Foam Gum Beetle between #10 and #4. Yep, #4, the trout in Great Lake love a big dry fly.

Arthurs Lake

Arthurs has been practically deserted by flyfishers, although the trollers are having a field day. In recent months the fish have all been deep, however with the weed in the shallow bays coming back to its normal thickness, we should soon see a return to that world class shallow water sight fishing that Arthurs is renowned for.

The best bays are often dependant upon wind direction, however the top of the lake at Tumbledown Bay, the Cowpaddock and the bays either side of the islands should be well worth exploring.

Mayfly hatches might still be a little thin, but these fish are mainly in the shallows looking for stick caddis. Dries are the best bet, and true to form the browns in Arthurs don’t really mind what the pattern is.

Woods Lake

This lake has had a real pounding leading up to Christmas, but it seems to be coping very well. The dun hatches here are excellent, and while the action may slow in January as the water warms, anglers can still expect to find some really good fish hunting the shallows until they get too warm during the day.

Warm evenings can be gold here as the better fish explore the rocky shores looking for a spinner fall – the black spinners here seem to be particularly tasty!

Little Pine and Penstock Lagoon

These two old stagers are still as good as ever. Little Pine can be somewhat enigmatic – great one day, ordinary the next. The lake was low and dirty in December, however the level was rising as January started, so one can confidently predict another smashing mayfly season. As always dull days are best, but the Pine does have a reputation for huge hatches on sunny days too – you just never know!

Penstock Lagoon is a marvellous option on a cloudy day, although bright days should see anglers fishing other waters. The size and condition of fish in Penstock is terrific, and is a credit to Inland Fisheries staff and their wild fish stocking regime.

The best hatches are often on cold southerlies, and late in the afternoon at that. For the enthusiastic, fishing into dark on a warm night with buoyant surface flies can yield some awesome action – the southern wall is the best spot.

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