Tackling Tasmania's Wild Trout Fishery
Flying south for the winter (or anytime from August to May actually)? Tasmania off of Australia's southern coast beckons to fly fishers searching for excellent fishing in beautiful surroundings.
Tasmania is Australia’s smallest and only island state but easily accessible by air or the Bass Strait ferry Spirit of Tasmania. It is the largest island in an archipelago of over 300 smaller islands and whilst the size of Ireland its population is only ½ million.
Tasmania is a unique blend of wild life, cool climate wines, single malt whiskies, specialty foods, magnificent scenery and true to their British heritage they have 80% of Australia’s remaining historic Georgian buildings. The arts are a feature of this island state and art lovers around the world eagerly await the opening of the privately owned Museum of Old and New Arts (MONA) due for completion in 2010 at a cost of $100 million housing Australia’s largest private art collection of equal value. The Museum will be freely open to the public and promises international kudos for Tasmania’s cultural heritage.
Tasmania is also a land of festivals ranging from local crafts and markets and food and wine to the weeklong celebrations marking the finish of the World famous Sydney/Hobart blue water yacht race.
Over 40% of its land mass is either World Heritage area or National Parks and with its small population, opportunities for solitude and space are guaranteed. Ever changing and varied scenery appears over very short distances, from the blue waters and white sands of the East Coast to the Wild West where the roaring 40’s descend and are measured as the purest air in the world.
Tasmania is a unique land of contrasts with free running streams, rivers, still water lakes and alpine tarns and of course wild brown trout, which populate virtually all waters. The glaciated central plateau known as “The Land of 3000 Lakes” provides world class wilderness angling whilst more easily found waters are everywhere without cost other than reasonably priced angling licenses.
Salmon Ponds just outside the capital of Hobart is the site of Australia’s first trout hatching. Brown trout ova were brought from the English Itchen, Wye, Wey and Test Rivers, transported in moss and ice and 300 ova hatched. The trout were released into the Plenty River and their progeny populated not only the waters of Tasmania but mainland Australia and New Zealand as well. The Tasmanian fishery is disease free and our Browns on the Central Plateau probably the finest wild strain remaining in the world.
Wild Brown Trout are the signature species but Rainbows also abound and there is wonderful estuary fishing for the hardy Southern Black Bream. The East coast promises opportunities for blue fin tuna which can exceed 200lbs and also the chance of landing a rare striped marlin. Tasmania's showcase trout waters are found in the lakes of the Central Highlands. Essentially these are wild trout fisheries dominated by naturally spawned brown trout, though wild rainbows are common enough. The wily nature of the trout, the confusing diversity of the waters and the variability of the weather has lead to a reputation of demanding trout fishing, hence the ongoing fascination and world-class image.
In springtime, highland waters are renowned for their wet fly fishing and, while the weather can be very fickle, this period offers extraordinary sport. There are other attractions too, including sea trout and traditional stream fishing. Perhaps the very best time to fish is from early summer to mid autumn, when the fish can be easily seen cruising in crystal clear water or else found rising steadily to mayflies, beetles and all manner of other goodies.
Tasmania has such a reputation for its quality fishing that many visitors go there expecting to take limit bags. But quality does not necessarily equal quantity. Wild trout are seldom easy to fool, so accept the sport as a challenge. Since most waters are clear and shallow, polaroiding (looking for cruising trout with the aid of glare-defying polarised sun glasses) is the main tactic. Blue sky days are best though proficient anglers become adept at spotting fish in low light. An effective method, especially where the water is too deep to wade, is to look for fish from the bank. Choose either a sheltered shore or one where the waves are striking at an angle and walk as much bank as possible - the biggest mistake new comers make is to fish too long in the one spot.
Fishing from a drifting boat makes polaroiding easier still - you have the advantage of height and the ability to cover lots of water very quickly. The best boats are properly rigged as casting platforms and are kitted out with efficient drogues and silent, manoeuvrable electric outboards. Visitors are probably best advised to utilise the services of well-equipped and knowledgeable guides.
If you are a connoisseur of mayfly fishing, Tasmania's high-country lakes will cater well for your passion. The best dun-based sport is triggered by the Highland Mayfly and the Penstock Brown. These occur in great numbers on highland lakes throughout summer and are eagerly sought by trout which can often be seen systematically clomping down all the hatchlings in sight. Fish rise both in sheltered bays and along exposed shores where they are washed in with waves and wind. Peak fishing usually occurs from 10 am to 4 pm, so don't plan lunch for the middle of the day. Although calm conditions are usually best, some venues can offer surprising activity even when things are quite windy. What really stems the rise is very bright weather or extreme cold.
Adult mayflies, especially black spinners, also cause intense activity. The best rises occur over patches of calm water and prompt trout to leap high into the air. Individual fish are best targeted between bursts of activity and you will find that polaroid glasses are invaluable.
Tasmania's wilderness fisheries are recognised as being among the very best in the world. There is something in the human condition which savours isolation and the opportunity to become intimate with the natural environment. Imagine: no radios, no noisy cars, and no people other than those with whom you choose to share your time. It has been said that the best private trout fisheries allow people to stalk rather than chase trout. But the wilderness is also exclusive, there only for those with the determination to experience land and self.
Trout Guides and Lodges Tasmania Incorporated (TGALT) is the industry body representing accredited professional trout fishing guides. Its primary purpose is to provide anglers with services that can be both safe and professional. TGALT has a membership of the finest and most respected trout fishing guides and lodges in Tasmania. All their members are committed to providing you with the best knowledge and service possible, and are dedicated to Tasmania's exceptional, wild trout fishery.
Tourism and the trout fishery are very important to Tasmania. They seek to protect their reputations and increase market share through increasing self-regulation and State government action. Guiding is an expensive business, both for an accredited operator and his anglers. Any non accredited guide who provides a markedly cheaper product needs to be looked at very closely to ascertain if those costs have been reduced by a failure to comply with necessary minimum standards.
For arranging travel to the region please contact;-
Tel: +44 (0) 1621 743711
Articles by the same author
- Fly Odyssey newsletter
- Tackling Tasmania's Wild Trout Fishery
- Iceland Sea Trout adventure with Fly Odyssey