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.
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.
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!
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
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
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 thought
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
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
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
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.
3rd, 2002 -
Up at 4 again but this
time it was ice cold. Beanies, gloves, thermals, fleece
and windstopper weather.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
But that's Tassie for you!