Lake Arthur: the trend
is the mother of invention: hence the makeshift
with the first fish of the trip. It took
a parachute dun fished downwind
with another healthy Cow paddock brown.
Notice the other boat in the background
of the Cow paddock is wadeable making stalking
fish in the wind a viable option
another good fish taken in the dun hatch
fish in the middle of the paddock
lovely fish taken on the authors emerging
fish from THAT session.
the fish up for a quick 'snap' before release.
This is perhaps the best stillwater Mayfly
hatch to be found anywhere.
fish in this lake just keep getting bigger!
But for how long ?
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.
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
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.
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
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.