March can be the best of months and the worst of months – often on the same day.
On the mayfly driven waters such as Little Pine Lagoon and Penstock Lagoon, the changing of the season sees these wonderful insects gradually fade for another season.
While Penstock can produce reasonable hatches throughout March, the better and more reliable fishing is for trout feeding on wind blown terrestrials – mainly beetles and ants.
March is often a calm month wind-wise, and with cooler days the beetles, especially gum beetles take to the wing. These falls can often be of epic proportions; I have seen Arthurs Lake covered in them.
The key time to be on the water in this case is as the fall starts. Trout will feed much better at the beginning of the fall than when it has been going for a few hours.
Your average brown trout will eat around 100 beetles before it’s full. Then they slink off to the bottom to digest it all, which takes some doing. Gum beetles are full of eucalyptus, which is a style of preservative. This makes the beetles hard to digest, hence knocking them off the bite for a few days.
One of the best waters for autumn beetle falls is Great Lake, especially in a northerly wind. The top part of the lake is best, particularly along the treed shores between Little Lake Bay and the Sandbanks. On calmer days look for the slicks and windlanes. Trout will work up these areas as the beetles will accumulate in them. Fly choice is very simple – a Bruce Gibson Foam Gum Beetle will do the trick.
Keep a keen eye out for ants as well. Both Arthurs Lake and Great Lake have terrific falls of ants, with Arthurs being my favourite. I had some awesome fishing in late February on Arthurs as the ants fell after a very muggy night.
While the fish are focussed on small insects, precise presentation of flies such as parachute emergers resulted in many fat fish taken. The fish in the deeper water across the Morass seem to be in fine fettle – much better than earlier in the season.
The western lakes have certainly benefitted from some rain in February, although they could always do with some more. The Nineteen Lagoons has been very popular this summer, and while there will always be plenty of people in the area, March sees the mainland visitation reduce significantly.
Most fish in March are keenly looking for a feed, making non-descript dry fly presentations the best bet. This is when the good old Red Tag really comes to the fore. Keep a good size selection with you, bigger ones for windy days, and smaller versions for those wonderfully calm mornings and evenings.
On rough days don’t ignore the bigger wets, as the bigger browns will be getting a bit toey as spawning time approaches.
Later in March we might see a few jassids around, but don’t hold your breath!Reads: 857