Dawn ‘n’ Dusk
Many anglers know, dawn and dusk are the best times to be on the water to maximise one’s chances of success. But how many regularly get out of bed early and experience the magic of first light—breaking over one of our lakes and rivers. To be in the half light waiting for the sound of a trout slurping a morsel off the top of the water, or in some cases leaving a ring that is barely visible to the naked eye.
The fish are there, and they are there in numbers and more often than not they are feeding hard. They often continue to do so until the sun burns off the cloud cover and puts them down to seek refuge in the depths below. I talk mostly in this article about Lake Leake, but a lot of what I say is relevant around the state.
It’s 4 am and the alarm goes off breaking the nights silence, my wife sighs and mutters something that sounds unfavourable. I am pretty sure I heard the words ‘you’re bloody mad’ in there somewhere and for a few fleeting seconds.. I agree.
Then the thoughts of feeding trout invade my head and in no time at all I find myself in the car heading to one of my favourite fishing destinations—Lake Leake.
In this article I would like to share some information on this ‘early morning water’ that will hopefully lead to some success for you.
I hold few secrets when it comes to sharing experiences and information because as far as I am aware no lake or streams have ever been ruined by doing so and as we all know just because one witnesses success one day, it doesn’t always translate to the next.
Lake Leake has had some very ordinary reports written on it of late with people saying that the fishing there is very challenging.
A couple of my mates and I disagree with that line of thinking, as recent trips to this water have resulted in us catching our bags in a very short period of time. If I was a betting man, I would envisage that those not fairing that well there are probably arriving well after all the action has happened....dawn.
This water is an amazing fishery for early morning midge feeders, in fact I would go so far as to say you would be hard pressed not to find feeding fish on top at this time of year if the conditions are right.
A perfect morning here is a light southerly and an overcast sky, and I emphasise the overcast sky, for without that, it’s all over by around 8.30 am, but sometimes that’s all you need as the five fish bag limit is often taken by anglers ‘in the know’ by that time anyway.
It is a cocky feeling one gets when talking to someone who has just arrived at the boat ramp as you are packing up to head home. They admire your catch and you know they will probably have to work very hard to achieve the same results.
They might ask us what fly we used, where we went etc and I am happy to tell them. I even give them a couple of the flies, but unfortunately most of the action is over.
Early morning methods
Right, you have done all the right things and arrived at Lake Leake as daylight is breaking What to do now? My suggestion is to engage the electric motor, and slowly move around the lake until you spot a wind lane with a bit of insect life in it, then just sit there........for they will come.
Unless you have an experienced eye, you may not notice feeding fish at first, as many just sip their tucker from under the surface, the only giveaway is the slightest ring left on the water.
Even when you do pick up the path of a feeding fish, they can still be very hard to follow; this makes for very challenging and sometimes very ‘frustrating’ fishing indeed.
That being said, every trip is a new adventure, last time we encountered fish charging past the boat with their heads out of the water and mouths open like one of those ‘whale sharks’ you see on the discovery channel.
If you’re a long accurate cast, you hold a distinct advantage as this gives you more chances at the fast moving rainbows before they spot you.
As for myself, I am not the greatest of casts therefore I improvise by sitting down low in my boat and by picking the direction a particular fish is heading in, I position myself far enough in front of that fish so as to set a trap by casting my fly in wait for it a couple of meters ahead.
When one is poised ready to strike as the fish works its way closer and closer, it is a magical feeling, especially when the fly is taken,.... the reel screams to life and it all comes together, now that’s worth getting out of bed for!
Early morning flies for this water need only be as simple as a team of two or three size 12 to 14 black seals fur fly’s with a brown hackle, in fact anything small and ‘red tagish’ like a Zulu dry will work.
Presentation is more important than the fly itself, in my opinion. Sometimes though they seem to ignore it and go under your dries, if you witness this happening, after a couple of times, I suggest you tie a small nymph or stick caddis to your dry fly’s hook shank and hang it six inches under it, this technique usually brings the fussy fish undone.
Dusk is another great time to fish! Minimal effort for maximum results (in theory anyway) and I am all for that. As the sun disappears over the hills that surround Lake Leake, the fish, especially in the last half hour of daylight start to look up consistently again, quite often a persistent angler will be greeted with a huge swirl appearing from nowhere next to his boat as a fish charges to the surface, grabs whatever was on top at the time and heads for the bottom again.
An Elk Hair Caddis is a great fly to put on now, especially if there is a good hatch flying around you, beware though as quite often there is no warning of an impending take, they just want to smash it!!
Other great flies to try are the Johnny Dekkers’ “Purple People Eater” (a purple woolly bugger with an orange tail) or a buoyant mudeye pattern pulled along the top of the waves in short sharp strips.
It might appear like lunacy casting blind in the dark to noises or the glimpse of a ripple that didn’t look quite natural, but if you’re going to get a big fish, now is the time. You don’t have to ‘see’, you only have to ‘feel’ when the line goes tight and you hook up.
Soft Plastics too
With the huge advances in soft plastics that have come forward in recent years, this is another method that produces fantastic results in the darker hours.
Today we are spoilt for choice and the variations of softies in different colours and scents, pre rigged or unrigged, nowadays, seem endless.
I love to fish with plastics early and late in the season especially at dawn as these are the times of the year when the fish are eager to put on condition and they seem to be looking for something a bit more substantial in their diet on a more consistent basis. The fishing can be fantastic, especially if your after that monster!
The big advantage with this form of fishing is depending on the level of water you are fishing in and the size of the jig head you are using, you can cover a lot more territory with the added advantage of longer casts, enabling the angler to reach the depth’s required when necessary.
I have caught many fish with soft plastics in early morning wind lanes , (especially rainbows), after spotting a boil or rise and then casting a couple of meters in the direction upon which I think the trout is heading, I then try to retrieve the plastic past the fishes nose.
Once again, the strikes can be very aggressive, morso before full daylight.
My personal favourite plastics are Berkley gulp pumpkinseeds and the Tassie Yep “Red rascal” and “Flapper” range in both the pre rigged and unrigged versions.
As mentioned earlier, I’ve used Lake Leake as an example in this article, mainly because it is one of my favourite waters, but the same techniques and tips could be applied to Burbury, Huntsman, Four Springs, Brumbys Creek etc, etc with equal success, these methods work for me and work well, I am just an everyday angler with no great skill set to fall back on, just a fair bit of experience collected from over four decades of fishing our fantastic Tasmanian lakes and rivers.
By making the effort to get up early or by heading out after tea to fish the evening until dark, I do catch fish regularly and so will you.