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Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre

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A Few Days in Tassie - or a short miserable, cold fly fishing trip

Sunday December 1st, 2002 -

Arrived in Devonport at 7am and headed straight up the mountains only to see Great Lake looking not so great. Low levels. Beehives is a long way out of the water. Windlanes look awfully good though. Nothing appears to have changed. No new developments. Everything where I last left it.

Threw the gear in at Bronte. Phoned some Tasmanian contacts and got the latest info. Weather was blue sky and light winds sun 15 knots, pretty damn good for the Central Highlands. Got licences at Bronte and pointed the car in the direction of St Clair Lagoon for a warm up.

The lagoon was low and we ran into three west Australian fly fishers having a dabble near the weir. Bo forgot his waders and made me paranoid about the snakes on his behalf. We saw a tiger within a few minutes of walking to where we intended to start fishing!

Moving around to a calm protected bay we were able to find some tailing fish that Bo had fished to last year. They were very tricky and after half and hour I broke away to see if I could find some easier fish. In the first bay in the lagoon itself there were three tailing fish.

The water was very shallow and getting a take proved difficult until switching to one of the new stick caddis patterns we just acquired in the FlyShop. Suspending it 3 inches below a Red Tag did the trick and we soon had a nice brown on the bank. Bo soon came around and we watched the black spinners come out of the trees and the fish start slashing from the top. A few more typical St Clair fish and it finished as quickly as it started.Nice fish running at Double Bar Lagoon

We decided to head back to base and check for an evening rise somewhere. I managed to get a take from one of the fish sitting under the radial gates at the outflow on the lagoon. It took a stimulator first drift.

When we got back to the car, Bo realised that he had left his GPS on the roof back at Bronte. So we decided to head back and try to find it. The actual machine was of no importance to him, but the hundreds of locations plotted were. Dropping into the general store at Bronte Wayne informed us that it had been handed in earlier that afternoon by a local woman. Pretty lucky!

That evening we fished the overflow at Bronte. That is the semi-lagoon at the Canoe Course between Bronte and Brady's. Bo had a giant fish working in his area for a while. I saw some small rises but nothing worth casting at. The night came slowly and we fished until the sun's very last rays had disappeared.

Monday December 2nd, 2002 -

Up at 4.30 am and still missed the proper early. The first of the light was in the east sky as we got our gear into the truck. Heading to the untouchables at Little Pine for some more punishment. I wonder if things had changed at all?*G* Unbelievable there was only one other person in the car park and he was just getting ready while we were already 'wadered up' and rigged. We discussed who would fish where, giving him first pick and then headed off, the first on the lake that morning!

The fish were not doing their usual thing. While we were looking for boils, bow waves and hand sized tails we were very disappointed. After about 45 minutes of careful watching, all was revealed. We both managed to work out what was going on despite being a hundred yards apart. The fish were showing but only just. Tailing fish with only the very tips of their dorsal fins ever breaking the surface. This was tricky.

Employing the same rig as the previous day in the lagoon seemed like the answer. As much because it was already on the tippet as I thought it would work better than any other fly.

Instead of standing way back from the water and casting to the fish I snuck (read crawled) into a position just in the water's edge. Waiting for the fish that I had seen to return I cast out into a small gap in the weed about ten feet in front of me, ready to cast a short line at it. After about ten minutes my eyes began wandering up the bank and searching out new victims. This is usually when fate plays its hand. A violent shove on the rod and a big boil indicated that a fish had just shown an interest in my stick caddis! Oh no!In the net!

I retrieved the fly and had a look at it. Everything was in order and so I decided that I was not going to be distracted this time. Another twenty minutes passed and I was again looking up the bank and I saw something out of the corner of my eye. About a rod length away, a brown about 3lb could be clearly seen in the water only six inches deep. Working away from me along the bank his tail came out for a few moments, then his back before the only indication of his presence was the sticks of grass that were moving as he inched his way along, now about 15 feet away.

This was the moment. A quick false cast and the flies landed two feet above the moving grass. The stick caddis would have quickly fallen to the level at which he was feeding and suspended nicely for the fish to find. A slight flick of its tail just in front of the floating red tag was the last thing I saw before the dry dipped beneath the surface. Setting the hook sent the fish berserk and it immediately made for deep water. Sending a big bow wave it cut across the shallows at a rate of knots and all I could do was keep the rod up and let him run.

Five seconds later it was all over. The fish was gone and the fly was quickly brought in for an inspection. No! the tippet had not broken, and there were no wind knots! Instead the dry had broken at the bend of the hook leaving a nice fish with a three inch length of mono and a stick caddis as a memento of the occasion. While I had the warm feeling that only dropping the best fish of morning can give you!

Bo wandered back and told of his efforts to undo fish that only showed the very tips of their dorsal fins. He waited on a nice one for some time, often thinking it was gone but patiently waiting all the same, only to have a crow fly over and send a bow wave out into the lake. The fish was less than twenty feet from him the whole time! The other 3 anglers we encountered did not manage any takes but saw more than us, having walked quite a bit of the western shore. We stayed in the Untouchable's corner for the morning.

The wind was up a bit, about 25 knots from the north-west by 7am but we decided that a blue sky day means a western lakes day. We drove up top and saw that there was not a soul around. Having our pick of Botsford, Carter's, Howes Bay, Double Bar, Kay, Ada, Rocky etc is not a bad start to the day. We picked Double Bar to start on and headed in. There was a car at the car park with a trailer attached indicating that the guys was using a boat and had not disturbed the water that we wanted to fish. Looking through the marsh for half an hour produced nothing. We polaroided and searched the water all to no avail. A perfect blue sky suggested that we should be seeing a lot more but it never happened.

A decision was made. We would wade the lake flats for a while and see what was happening. Bo moved out about 15 metres into the lake and I walked the tussock edges. The bottom is silty for those of you who don't know it and fish can be clearly see where the water is shallow. After three minutes I turned around after hearing Bo's 'whoop' and saw a fully loaded rod and a fish tearing line off it very quickly. By the time I was able to wade back Bo had the fish well under control with a rod on full bend and a large brown rolling on the surface. He netted him smoothly and we had a look at what was a nicely conditioned Double Bar fish.

At around 4.5lb it was Bo's biggest Australian caught trout beating his 3.5lb rainbow on the Swampy last year hand's down. My attempts to explain that the swampy fish was worth more in relative terms was falling on deaf ears. He had seen the shape of the fish from some distance but In beautiful conditionthought it was a log and thought that it only looked like it was moving because he was wading. So he stopped and watched for a moment. The log was indeed moving and at some speed. Luckily he had been rolling a short line in front of him so that he could pick up and shoot when he saw a fish. The fish moved six feet to take the deer hair red tag and took it without a hint of hesitation. Hopefully the photos will come out well (See photos on right side of page).

After this fish we put in another twenty minutes but the water soon got deep and more rocks began appearing making polaroiding all but impossible. We decided to head back for some lunch and another lake.

Driving down the road we found people everywhere. Three cars at Botsford and more drivingBack you go! to Kay, Carter's had people on it, Howes Bay the same. Ada was a windswept nightmare and so we 'decided' on a quick walk around Rocky. Two fish in three minutes were polaroided and refused the dry. Small beetle patterns!

About this time the wind really came up and things started getting discolored. 35 knot plus winds and shallow water tends to stir things up! Not only that but we wanted to have a quick nap at the cabin before setting out for the rest of the day.

Driving into the petrol station at Miena we bumped into Ted from Northern Fly Fishers as well as Doug from Kiewa and a couple more of the gang. They confirmed that things had been tough. No hatches on Arthur's and not much else to speak of. A few others were grumbling too and so it seemed as though we had missed out. Friends who had been here the previous two weeks had mostly blue skies and light winds.

Then in something out of the twilight zone Michael pulled into the car park! What a sight for saw eyes! Michael was born here and has fished here all his life. He does not fish the main lakes, instead he has walked the Western's on a weekly basis for over twenty years. What makes it so unbelievable is that he only comes back these days for the few summer months. You see Michael is a fruit picker and travels the country, working and fishing. He works two or three months. Then takes as many off to fish. He recently spent ten days at our shop after fishing for a month around Weipa while on his way back 'home' to tassie. I did not have his phone number, not thinking that I would be coming down this way again for some time. When I was told to get to the Spirit of Tasmania in three hours from Thornton as there was a free ticket awaiting me I only had time to grab my bag of gear and clothes, still a mess having just arrived back from the Swampy. I was thinking about how to contact him the whole drive to Melbourne, conceding defeat by the time we sailed.

So you can imagine my delight when he pulled in. Apparently he had phoned our shop looking for me to talk about a fly that I had tied for him. You see he had lost a 10lb and 6lb brown the previous day in the Western's and only had one more of these flies left. After hearing that I was here he phoned around and found out that we were at Bronte. He was on his way to search for us when he saw us out the front of the shop talking to the other guys. This was surely a sign that things were going to be good!

Michael unfortunately asked us if we enjoyed the blue-sky hurricane earlier that morning because the bad weather was coming. Rain, stronger colder winds and even snow! Michael agreed to meet us the following night after a quick reconnoiter in some of the closer western lakes that afternoon and the following day to find some fish for us while the sky was blue.

That evening we had a look at Bronte because it was just down the road and a favourite spot of Bo's. The wind did not let up until just on dark and very little moved.

Tuesday December 3rd, 2002 -

Up at 4 again but this time it was ice cold. Beanies, gloves, thermals, fleece and windstopper Bring the cold weather gearweather. Tailing fish were again very hard to find in Little Pine along the Untouchables shore. I know we could have gone further up the bank or over to the Cricket Pitch but there is something about the browns that inhabit this particular part of the lake.

The other guys fishing did not catch anything and we only found two or three fish despite being on the water before the first light appeared in the sky. One fish at least was found with full tail out, but an off target cast in the wind fell just short and there was not an opportunity for a second go.

After getting to the car and warming up with the heater we headed to Penstock for a bit of a look-see. Second cast on the rock wall hooked a very big brown that took a Gibson's Damsel Nymph. The fish took off through the lilies and cut a path as it went pushing them out of the way. In less than 15 seconds the tippet had broken and the fish was gone.

The wind picked up all morning until about 10 am some serious clouds were threatening. A few fish rose to duns and swirled at the flies we were using to match the hatch. Very tough indeed. More and more duns started to hatch and so a change in scenery was decided on. A short drive to the Cowpaddock was made and we hoped for a wind direction change that was due that just might bring some duns on. It was raining heavily the whole time.A nice break in the weather

However it was not to be and is often the case the best indicator that it is not happening was the distinct lack of boats on the water. They were all beached or on trailers which usually means no duns and rising fish. We had a look and a brief flog, talked to some of the people camping there and decided that it was not worth hanging around.

Slept all afternoon and did the evening on Bronte and again saw nothing. Very tough, cold and windy and most of the smarter anglers were indoors with a good fire.

Michael turned up and talked of tough conditions up top and out west. He was able to find fish but they largely refused his efforts. He was heading back to visit family in Devonport saying that it would get worse before it got better.

Wednesday December 4th, 2002 -

Up at 4am and down to Bronte (Tailers Shore). Not a scale. Back to sleep for a few hours. Had a look at a few waters through the day, more for future reference than to actually catch a fish. 30-40 knot South-Wesetrlies and snow. Just perfect. Saw nothing worthy of mention. Now I know why those people in Montana shoot each other. Cabin fever already setting and its only been a couple of days. Rain has not relented.

Thursday December 4th, 2002 -

Woke up at 4am and it was raining heavily. Sleep in and late start decided on. Had a look at some more waters and other parts of familiar lakes that I have yet to fish. Cast a fly here and there. Walked into the top of Dee Lagoon (Mentmore) and it still looks stunning. A large fish of about 5lb stuck its head out when we first arrived and took something from the surface. Unfortunately we only had half an hour to spare as we were catching up with friends for dinner. Some great water in there and the creek looks stunning. Saw some good fish on the walk back to the car along the creek. Pity you can't fish it! Only light rain.

Friday December 5th, 2002-

Up at 4am again and looking for tailers in the bad weather. Realising now that we may not get any good weather for the rest of the trip and getting serious about finding fish. The weather got even worse today. More snow falls and many lakes dirtied up on the preferred shores. At least we have not resorted to stripping wets yet. I suppose that is some consolation!*G*There's snow on 'dem dar hills!'

Got back to the cabin early afternoon for a kip. Woke up and the rain had stopped. Off fishing again. By the time we got to St Clair Lagoon we had rain and wind again. But the break appears to be coming. Lots of snow on the hills now. Water is flowing hard through the lagoon making the usual techniques ineffective. Fished the tail end of the lagoon with a dry nymph combo for no reward. Other anglers said that they had not seen a fish in days.

Saturday December 6th, 2002-

Slept in until 8.30 and awoke to no wind, mild temperatures and a bright high overcast. A great fishing day and we have to pack up and leave. The lakes all look very inviting on the drive back with just a light ripple out away from the bank. Most are close to a mirror.

Unable to fish as we drive past the various lakes in the great conditions is pretty tough. If we come over again at this time of year we will have to schedule two weeks like we used to do. Five days is not enough when you get three days of snow in 'summer'!.

But that's Tassie for you!


 

 

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