Tasmania – Mossie Swamp Lagoon – 4 January 2012


It would be my last day in Tasmania. It had taken me the best part of a week to get the hang of a new style of fishing and just as I was beginning to work it out, it was time to go. That’s fishing – it just means you have to come back again – soon.
I had looked over the map and had found a canal that links the Pump Pond to Mossie Swamp Lagoon – another dam, near Taraleah. I had been having success fishing in the faster moving water at the mouths of the lagoons and canals, so I decided to go and have a look.

The weather was windy and had cooled off dramatically overnight, as a front was moving through. It had rained in the morning but, by the time I set off to fish, at about 3.00 pm the wind was dropping and the sun was out again.

I headed up the road to Lake King William, then parked and walked for 15 minutes, along a track to Mossie Swamp Lagoon. This was another beautiful spot and I stopped well short of the edge, to observe what was going on. Predictably, I could see two Brown Trout rising in the shallows, at either end of the dam wall. I cast out a GULP 3” Minnow soft plastic in the Rainbow colour on a 1/12th oz jighead and watched through my Polaroid glasses, as one of the Trout followed my slow retrieve all the way into the bank. I stopped the lure right at the edge and the Trout just sat 10cm away, staring at it – but it would not strike. I switched to a grub tail soft plastic and the same thing happened.

I decided to move on. I walked along another track through the forest that brought me out next to a broad, fast flowing canal with a couple of weirs on it. The bottom was weedy and the wall lining had broken away in places, so that it looked more like a natural river bank. The water was fast moving but there were lots of eddies in the shallows, at the sides.

I had run out of the Peppered Prawn coloured Jigging Grub soft plastics, so I reverted to an old favorite – the GULP 3” Minnow Grub in the Pumpkinseed colour. I cast it forward, up stream into the canal and gave it a couple of jumps as it sped back in my direction. The response was instant. A small Brown Trout raced out from the darkness and attacked the lure. It took two bites and then fled. I reeled the soft plastic back in, less its tail. I put another on and moved another ten metres up the canal. I repeated the process and after a few more casts, came up tight on a fish. It was another nice Brown Trout, about 30cm long. I photographed and released it.

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I walked along the river bank and past a weir. I kept casting and got plenty of bites from smaller fish and lost a few jigheads to the rubble and weed on the bottom. I worked my way through my soft plastics – the 3” Jigging Grub in the Camo colour, the 3” Fry on the Banana Prawn colour, the 3” Powerbait Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour. They all got bites but the GULP Pumpkinseed Minnow Grub with its paddle tail, seemed to be the most attractive and I caught three more small Browns on this one and dropped two more, close to the bank.

I fished up and down this stretch of water until about 6.30 pm, when I simply had to leave. It had been a great afternoon and a suitable finale to a great week. I had spent a lot of time fishing for relatively few fish, but I learned a lot about the wily Tasmanian Brown Trout and I am already planning my next visit.

Tasmania – the Pump Pond Reservoir – 3 January 2011


Tuesday was a clear, still, hot morning. At about 7.00 am I drove back up to the Pump Pond and fished around the shore. The fish were there but they were not interested in the soft plastics in such clear, still water. I moved back down along the canal to the reservoir and fished the spot where I had found the fish the day before. I was now using the GULP 3” Jigging Grub soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour, I got a bite and a short run but the fish spat it out.

Swirling water in the Pump Pond Reservoir

I decided to try the other side of the mouth of the canal and moved around to a clear spot on the bank. I saw a fish rise and cast just up river of it. Before the soft plastic reached the bottom I felt the bite and then the line started peeling. This was a better fish than the day before and again it tried to get down into the weed.

The best Brown Trout of the trip - 42cm

I already had the drag set reasonably tight and the 6lb leader had been strong enough the day before, so I was confident enough to pull the fish free of the weed and up the bank. It was my best fish of the trip so far at just over 2lbs.

I fished on in a few other spots around the reservoir but could not find any more Trout, so I gave up at around 9.00 am.

Tasmania – The Pump Pond Reservoir – 2 January 2012


I was up early on Monday, convinced that my soft plastic lures would have a basketful of fish on the table by lunchtime. I decided to go back to the southern end of Bronte Lagoon where I had missed a few trout on the fly, earlier in the week.

This area is close to the road, easy to access and has lots of fish holding terrain. The tree line is close to the shore, providing shade on hot days and also encouraging lots of insect life. There are also clumps of strap weed, tree stumps, boulders and fallen trees all along the bank. I had my waders on but started by fishing along the bank with various GULP soft plastic lures.

Bronte Lagoon - lots of structure but perhaps I was too early for the fish

I think I was a little too early at about 6.30am. As the week went on I began to realize that the Trout prefer a bit of warmth or sun, before they start actively feeding. I suppose that the warmth brings out the insects and that’s when they get going.

I walked up and down the bank but could not raise a bite, so I drove back to another small reservoir, just south of the Pump Pond, near Taraleah. This reservoir is fairly deep and is filled from two sides by canals. Where the water flows in, there are some good eddies and I thought they looked worth a try.

It was about 7.30 am and I decided I would try a hard bodied lure. I had picked up a couple of RAPALA XR4s in the Brown trout colour , before I left Brisbane so I tied one on and cast into an eddy where the water was running out of one of the canals, into the reservoir. I put in about five casts, retrieving the lure slowly with plenty of pauses and twitches. On the last one there was a great swirl and a good sized Brown trout knocked the lure flying out of the water as it struck. Unfortunately the fish and lure did not hook up and I was left standing there, replaying the scene in slow motion on the bank.

I cast around a bit more but the fish did not strike again. At about 10.00am I gave up again, resolving to try again later in the afternoon. I was gaining a healthy respect for these fish, they were far from easy to catch.

A 35cm Brown Trout from the Pump Pond Reservoir

That afternoon I came back to the same spot at about 5.00 pm. I decided to try a soft plastic lure and put on a GULP 3″ Jigging Grub in the Peppered Prawn colour. I rigged it on a 1/12th oz jighead and cast it into the swirling eddies again. A few casts produced nothing so I moved round the corner towards the slack water and put out a few more casts. On the third, there was a solid thud and I struck hard. Line started peeling and after a few lunges, I felt the line slow as the fish tried to bury itself in the strap weeds. I tightened the drag a little and pulled it free. I soon had it on the bank – a Brown Trout – just over 35cm long. Delighted, I kept this one for dinner and it certainly tasted sweet.

Trout are definitely harder to catch than I expected

Tasmania – the Pump Pond – 1 January 2012


After 10 hours of guided fishing with a fly rod, I had seen plenty of Trout but I had failed to hook one. Now I recognize that 10 hours is hardly a fishing lifetime, but with only a few days of my Tasmanian holiday left, it was time to switch tactics and try some lures.

Our guide had suggested I try a small dam near Taraleah, called the Pump Pond. I walked up to it at around 7.30 am, just as the sun was beginning to burn through the morning mist. Santa brought me a new Shimano Stella 2500 reel which goes perfectly with my Loomis GL2 spin rod. I had loaded it with the new 8lb Nanofil fused line from Berkely and tied on a rod length of 6lb Fluorocarbon leader.

The Pump Pond - a small dam near Taraleah

All of the dams in the area are linked by canals and tunnels, so that water can be moved around the hydro-electric scheme. The canals between the dams are usually fast moving and you should take care when fishing them, as they are largely unfenced. One of these canals runs out of the base of the Pump Pond Dam, down to a small holding reservoir. As I walked along it, to reach the dam I decided to throw a cast in. I had rigged a Gulp 3” Minnow in the Rainbow colour on a 1/12th ounce, size 2 hook, jighead. I cast up stream into the current and gave the plastic a few jigs as it sped towards me. It was passed me in seconds, so I hauled it in and cast again. The canal is made of preformed concrete slabs with no structure at all. Just as I was thinking it would be difficult for a fish to hang out anywhere, I felt a solid bite and then line started peeling. It was a small Brown (my first Australian Trout and my first fish on the new Stella). It was soon safely on the bank. I removed the soft plastic from its mouth and released it.

A GULP Minnow in the Rainbow colour does the trick

Finally - my first Tasmanian Brown Trout

I moved up to the Pump Pond and waited until I saw another Trout break the surface to feed. I cast the plastic a few metres in front of it and let it sink. The water was crystal clear and as I slowly retrieved the minnow soft plastic, I watched another small Brown Trout follow it all the way in to the bank and then turn away. This happened again on the next cast, so I sped up the retrieve a little, with a few jumps and jerks. The fish followed closely again, but it would not strike.

Plenty of fish holding structure

I moved all along the dam wall, casting whenever I saw a fish and the same thing happened every time. They were curious but they would not eat the lure. I tried some different soft plastics – grub tails and fry shapes, but they all drew a blank. At about 10.00 am the sky was clear and there was no wind so I decided to give up.
A great morning in a spectacular location and most importantly – I got a fish.

Tasmania – Dee Lagoon Beetle Drop – 30 December 2011


Fly fishing again – we started at noon and our guide suggested Dee Lagoon. He explained that we would fish from his boat and try to take advantage of a ‘beetle drop’ to sight cast at rising trout.

Dee Lagoon - renowned for its beetle drop

A word of explanation for novice fly fisherman – self included. On warm days in the summer months Eucalyptus Beetles (which look a little like olive green ladybugs) hatch in the gum trees beside the lakes and fly around for a bit before dropping into the lakes where they sit on the surface frantically wiggling. The trout scout around below, popping up to snaffle them.

Our plan was to wait until we could see a Trout cruising along the forest fringed shores and cast a Eucalyptus Beetle patterned fly in to its path. We arrived at a likely spot on the north shore but we immediately realized there were a couple of problems with the plan. Firstly, it was a clear, still day with not even a ripple on the surface of the crystal clear water, so the fish would see us coming. Secondly, there were spent Eucalyptus Beetles all over the surface of the water. There were literally thousands of them and they were still falling.

The Trout were cruising the shore line

We cast at a few Trout but they were not interested in our flies. We would watch them turn towards the fly as it dropped, approach it and then turn away. We moved around the lake but the story was similar all over it – there was just too much food around and the fish were stuffed.

At the northern end of the lake we came into a corner called Station Bay where a few small Brown Trout were rising close to the bank. We came in close and put a few casts in their direction but again we could not tempt them.
We tied up against a semi- submerged stump to watch and see if they would continue feeding. A light breeze had blown the spent beetles into a slick with some other debris. I saw a big swirl at the end of it and then I saw a good sized Rainbow Trout – 3 or 4 lbs, just under the surface. It had not seen us and took a mouthful of dead beetles then swirled away. I put a cast to it and it swam in to inspect my fly, then slowly swam away.

Drop the fly between those stumps

For the next 30 minutes it came back time and again. Our guide put every fly he had on and each time the reaction was the same – immediate interest as the fly plopped on to the surface and then, after a quick inspection – rejection. Finally this beautiful fish disappeared.

My father decided on a more direct approach and tied on a wet fly – a small olive coloured sinking nymph. He started to prospect in the deeper water and eventually the line came up tight. But after a few minutes of playing a good fish, the line went slack. When he recovered the line the fly was gone – the 3lb leader was just not enough.

That was it for the day and whilst it had been fantastic to see how the Trout operate, I wanted to catch one. Back to soft plastics tomorrow!

Tasmania – Bradys Lake – 29 December 2011


I have left the heavy swells and lumpy seas of Queensland behind and flown south. I am lucky enough to be staying at the Taraleah Lodge in the Tasmanian Highlands, where I am hoping to catch a few Trout.

I opted for a guide as I needed to know when to fish, where to fish and what to fish with. I brought the light spin rod and reel and a range of soft plastic and hard bodied lures, but I accept that in such beautiful country, fly fishing is really the method by which Trout should be caught. My father, who is is an accomplished fly fisherman, was with me and I am keenly aware that he considers prospecting with soft plastic lures rather similar to dynamite fishing.

I last picked up a fly rod when I was about twelve – and that is a very long time ago. Everyone says it’s just like riding a bike – you never forget, but today, as the trout were rising repeatedly less than 5 metres in front of me – I certainly felt like I was flailing the water with dental floss. After a bit of casting practice I remembered just how difficult it is. Trout fishing (like most fishing) is all about stealth but perfecting a fly cast is a messy business. You see a fish rise (break the surface to feed) and you lift your line out of the water to cast just ahead of it. What you intend to do is play out some line with a couple of dummy casts above the water, then drop the incredibly lightly weighted fly gently on to the surface about a metre in front of the fish. What actually happens is one of the following:

1 – Your fly catches in the undergrowth behind you, on the long grass or trees, on the first back swing.
2 – You fly hooks firmly into your ear on the second back swing.
3 – Your dummy cast skims the surface of the water with a loud splash, spooking every fish within ten metres.
4 – The line goes back nicely over your head but as you bring it forward it concertinas in front of you and the fly – lands less than a metre in front of you.

Finally, a full two minutes after the Trout has swum away you put the fly where you want it. Put simply, it’s hard and I really struggled.

Murray, our guide, took us to the Bronte system which consists of four lakes created in the 1950’s as part of the hydro-power scheme that sends power across Tasmania. He started us off on the western shore of Bradys Lake where trout can often be seen in the shallows. There was a light cool breeze ruffling the water at about 10.00 am.

Bradys Lake

There were various insects buzzing above the water, in the shallows and every now and then a small Dun would pop up on the surface. The Dun is a small winged insect and it emerges from a larva that has matured on the bottom of the lake. When it’s ready to hatch it floats up to the surface and the wings pop up like a little sail. They then blow around on the surface, drying out until they are ready to fly away. The Trout will eat them at all stages of this cycle, but they get particularly excited when there is a big hatch and the Duns are popping up all over the water. You can either target them with a fly that looks like the larval stages (nymph) and sinks – a ‘wet’ fly, or you can target them with a fly that sits on the surface – a ‘dry’ fly. If you want to cover both bases you can tie on a dry fly with a wet fly trailing underneath.

This was the set up my guide gave me. It has the added advantage of making it easier to spot a fish strike. When the dry fly (in this case a black foam bug with a red and yellow dot on its back called a ‘Chernobyl’) is pulled under, you strike. We fished for an hour at Brady’s Lake and then our guide suggested a move to the southern corner of Bronte Lagoon. This was another shallow area with weed clumps, tree stumps and fallen trees and it looked very promising. As we arrived a good size Brown Trout broke the surface to snaffle something. We started casting wherever we saw the fish rise. But my poor casting made it tricky.

A good guide saves time and can put you on to the fish

After another hour I was casting more effectively and I was able to put the fly close in to a clump of weed where a fish had been repeatedly feeding. Murray suggested I just let the fly float past – no need to strip line to move it – just let the wind push it past the weeds. I did this a couple of times and then to my surprise the Trout came to the surface and took a swipe at the Chernobyl, instead of the trailing wet fly. I jerked the rod up but I missed the fish.
We carried on until about 2.00pm but I never got any closer to catching one. It was a good introduction to how tricky this type of fishing can be.