Trout and Salmon Bonanza
  |  First Published: July 2009

The arrival of August is an exciting time in Tasmania and although the North East Coast is predominantly a saltwater based fishing destination, it also has some of the best small stream fresh water trout fishing the state has to offer.

The Georges River is the first stop for most east coast trout fisherman and starts its life high in the mountains west of St Helens as two separate river systems, the North George River and the South George River.

The upper reaches are very reminiscent of an English chalk stream, crystal clear water, dense forest growth all around and rich in aquatic and terrestrial life; the perfect haven for small brown trout to flourish.

The two rivers meet and converge to make the Georges River proper at a small dairy farming area called Pyengana and flow through a mix of farm land, state forest and lowland plains eventually spilling into Georges Bay at St Helens. During the first month of the season temperatures in Tasmania don’t usually encourage much in the way of surface fly hatches, however on the East Coast it is not unusual to have some earlier than the rest of the state. As such the Georges River is one of the few places in Tasmania where its possible to catch the small river trout on a dry fly on the first day of the season.

Although the fish in the headwaters are only small, what they lack in size they certainly make up for it in sheer numbers. However as you head toward the lower limits fish numbers reduce but the size increases. Close to town you can expect resident fish up to 5-6lb and monsters up to 8lb have been caught in some of the darker deeper reaches fishing baits at night.

There are also a number of North East Dams that offer some fantastic trout fishing for boat anglers. The Cascade Dam and the Frome Dam are two small mountain-side waters that head the Dorset Irrigation System and both are full of wild brown trout. The Frome is the easier of the two to travel to towing a boat, and offers plenty of small fish in its dark tannin stained waters.

The Cascade Dam hails from the tin mining days and lies high in the hills above the old tin mining township of Derby. It has some incredible depth and tons of dead standing timber and has produced some excellent sized fish, however the track in can sometimes be limited to 4WD access only and a boat is mandatory when water levels are high. Further along the north coast toward Bridport are Big Waterhouse Lake, Little Waterhouse Lake and Blackmans Lagoon. All three of these lakes are small in size and nestle in behind the sand dunes close to the coast and beaches.

Little Waterhouse being the smallest of the three is regularly stocked every year by fisheries with rainbow trout which grow fast to 2-4lb in size and look like small footballs. Big Waterhouse and Blackman Lagoon are considered more trophy waters with a good head of stocked brown trout which grow to over double figures and also smaller football shaped rainbow trout.

Growth rates in these two lakes are some of the highest in the state due to the expansive rich weed beds that are home to the Tasmanian galaxias species and through the summer months millions of mudeyes that the large trout feed on. All forms of fishing styles are permitted in these lakes, bait, lure and fly and whilst some shore access is available a small boat will prove very advantageous.

Georges Bay salmon

The saltwater fishing doesn’t get left behind at this time of year either though and Georges Bay is usually home to some XOS Australian Salmon. The bay fills with small baitfish and large salmon follow them in and stay for the winter. Fish up to 3kg can be caught all over the bay as they cruise in schools smashing the bait. Lures, fly and soft plastics such as Squidgy Flick baits will all take fish quite successfully.

Jamie Henderson owns St Helens Bait & Tackle right next to the fabulous Georges Bay. Call Jamie on 03 6376 2244, he has all the latest in tackle and bait and all the latest fishing information.

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