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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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Necessity is the mother of invention: hence the makeshift drogue
Necessity is the mother of invention: hence the makeshift drogue

 
David with the first fish of the trip. It took a parachute dun fished downwind
David with the first fish of the trip. It took a parachute dun fished downwind

 
Antony with another healthy Cow paddock brown. Notice the other boat in the background
Antony with another healthy Cow paddock brown. Notice the other boat in the background

 
Much of the Cow paddock is wadeable making stalking fish in the wind a viable option
Much of the Cow paddock is wadeable making stalking fish in the wind a viable option

 
Yet another good fish taken in the dun hatch
Yet another good fish taken in the dun hatch

 
Those fish in the middle of the paddock
Those fish in the middle of the paddock

 
A lovely fish taken on the authors emerging dun pattern
A lovely fish taken on the authors emerging dun  pattern.

 
Another fish from THAT session
Another fish from THAT session.

 
Holding the fish up for a quick 'snap' before release. This is perhaps the best stillwater Mayfly hatch to be found anywhere
Holding the fish up for a quick 'snap' before release. This is perhaps the best stillwater Mayfly hatch to be found anywhere.

 
The fish in this lake just keep getting bigger! But for how  long ?
The fish in this lake just keep getting bigger! But for how  long ?

Lake Arthur: the trend continues

With each season that passes Arthur's Lake continues to improve as a brown trout fishery. We ask why ?

Arthur's Lake in the Central Highland area of Tasmania has really become the jewel in the already very impressive crown. Over the past few seasons it has really gone from strength to strength despite increased angling pressure. We have a look at the fishery and why it is so good.

The Fishery

Arthur's has always been known for its good fishing. However in the past it was mainly due to very large numbers of smaller sized fish. Trout of between a pound and a pound a half were considered the norm and it was the fact that they were so prolific that saw it rise to prominence. However a new fishery has evolved over the past few years. Fish of between two and three pounds are now expected on most outings and fish of four pound are certainly not uncommon. 

It is an incredibly rich system that provides a venue for applying just about every possible stillwater technique. It has tailing fish early in the season, great windlane fishing to both midge and at the right times gum beetles and jassids, sight fishing the bank and of course some of the best Loch Style fishing to be found as the winning English team at the 87 World Championships showed. But what we and many others go there for is the fantastic hatches of mayfly duns.

The Dun Hatches

The mayfly so famous in this part of the world it the giant Highland Dun. These duns are around a size 10 and patterns between 8 - 12 are regularly used depending on conditions. They hatch out most days between the months of November and February with the best activity between 11am and 3pm. The traffic at most boat ramps is particularly noticeable around 9.30 am as those expecting a rise try to ensure they don't miss any of it. Weather conditions for a better hatch are varied although warm overcast days, those with patchy cloud and sometimes the very worst ones seem best. Many a time we have been the only ones on the lake with a strong wind and heavy wave action, to find a dun every few square inches and the trout slashing them from the top with vigour. 

The preferred technique requires the use of a boat. Selecting a drift adjacent to visibly rising fish the drogue is dropped over the side and fishing commences. A double fly rig is usually used involving the use of a parachute dun and an emerger pattern a few feet down the tippet. Both are floating. This is then cast downwind with the drift of the boat allowing a good drag free presentation. Casts are made blind into the gaps in the weed hoping to bring a fish looking up to the fly. This is the method used until a rising fish is found and fished to. These fish are surprisingly easy to interest if the cast is good. Quite often the fish will take the fly on the lift to re-cast and its little surprise as the movement may help the fish to discern it from all the naturals and surface chop.

On calmer days we prefer to stalk fish by discreet use of the oars. When there is little or no wind fish can be a little hard to track due to there being no distinct concentrations of food. However, with the oars and the inflateable raft we use, stalking a fish steadily rising is quite easy. For this type of fishing a single fly matching the exact stage of the hatch is used. The most important aspect of this fishing is good, quick presentation. Being able to land the fly on the fishes nose is definitely an advantage.

Those without a boat should not despair as much of this goes on within reach of the wading angler. The 'Cowpaddock' which is our personal favourite part of Arthur's is very wadeable. Careful movement along the soft bottom is mandatory but reaching rising fish has never been a problem. On several occasions when the wind blows straight down the bay and it gets too rough to use the boat we have pulled up on the shore and had some of the better sessions here. In fact most of the fish you see in the accompanying photographs were taken on one such day. Those five fish were caught in less than half an hour as the wind blew a steady stream of duns parallel to the bank and the fish lined up just like in a bubble line in any river, to sip them from the current.

Why ?

Well everyone has theories about it. What I believe is that due to the closure of some of the more popular nearby waters due to the finding of carp, the angling pressure usually visited upon this lake was greatly increased. A greater angler harvest has seen less fish to compete for the abundant food and voila - their size has increased proportionately. How long this can continue who can say. It is a very healthy system and no doubt it will continue to get better before a possible decline occurs. The fact that they take fish out of the spawning runs from this lake to stock some of the tarns and lagoons out west (that have little no natural recruitment due to lack of spawning habitat) speaks volumes for the health of this Lake. Tasmanian's should be proud of their waters and of Fisheries attempts to sustain and improve them.

Summary

Arthur's Lake is only one of thousands located in the Central Highland region that contain trout. While it doesn't offer a wilderness experience, huge trophy trout or the most attractive landscape; the fishing to good sized wild browns rising to take big dry flies is pretty hard to beat.

See you there one day.

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