105 mersey adrianPresented from Issue 105, August 2013
The Mersey River is now even better - with ‘Anglers Access’ project completed. Adrian Webb fishes the Mersey consistently from the start to the end of the season. Here is his guide and a few tips

IFS Links Mersey River Access and All Angler- Access Brochures

The Mersey River starts its journey from Lake Youd in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and flows down through Lees Paddocks and into Lakes Rowallan and Parangana. The river above Lake Rowallan is accessible from a track at the top end of the road that runs along the left of the lake. A steep walk of around a kilometre is required to reach the river from this point and there are some very nice stretches of river to fish in this area. So if you think your fit enough then it’s well worth the trip into this scenic area.

Lake Rowallan and the Mersey River above the lake is classed as Rainbow Trout waters and are opened and closed different to that of the Brown Trout season. The rainbow trout season opens from Saturday nearest the 1st October and closed from the Sunday nearest the 31st May each year. A current angling license is required to fish any inland waters in Tasmania. The Mersey is open to all methods of fishing these being Fly Fishing, Spin Fishing and *Bait Fishing *(bait fishing is not allowed in National Parks)* . The brown trout season opens on the first Saturday in August and closes the last Sunday in April each year.

 105 mersey diverse
 The Mersey is diverse, long and easily accessed

The Mersey River from below Lake Parangana flows through valleys and farmlands all the way unobstructed to Devonport where it enters Bass Strait. This long section of river is classed as ‘brown trout’ water and trout fishing in this river is excellent. Many sections of the river are now accessible to angling with the new ‘Angler Access’ areas that have now been set up with the permission of the many land owners. Our thanks to them for allowing this program to proceed along this great river. Thanks also to Neil Morrow, Project Manager of the IFS, and Anglers Alliance because without these people projects like this could not have been completed. Any areas of the river that does not have access signs on them, then you must obtain permission from the landowners to gain access.

Around 12 years ago this river was in a very poor state until commonsense prevailed and Hydro Tasmania decided to have a regulated flow of water from Lake Parangana into the system. Since then the Mersey has improved over the years and the fishing has also improved considerably. This river is now one of the best rivers in the state to fish and holds good numbers of brown and rainbow trout. Last season (2012-13) in 42 trips I managed 124 browns and 50 rainbows, but my best season was the one described in the following paragraph. It gives you an idea how productive the Mersey River can be.

The start of the trout season began with some very good rains and the Mersey and its tributaries all had a very much needed flush out making for a great seasons trout fishing. Not only for this river but for most rivers across the State and made for one of the biggest dun hatches I have seen for many years,and lasted for several weeks as well. Fishing from below Lake Parangana all the way down to Merseylea was great, and was my best trout season ever. In 72 trips to various sections of the Mersey I managed to catch a total 581 fish (493 browns, 87 rainbows and one Australian grayling) which is an average of eight fish each trip. There were days when it was tough going and that was during the dun hatch time mainly.

Being a spin fisherman at this time can be quite frustrating especially with fish rising and jumping in every stretch of river as far as the eye can see. This is a time when the trout are normally not one bit interested in my blade spinners and this is why I always have a fly-dropper attached to the bottom section of my anti-kink setup. I have found this to be a must when spinning for trout. My best Mersey fish of 1.5 kilos was and taken on the fly-dropper. (season 2010-11)

The areas I fish in the Mersey River are many and start from below Merseylea up to the dam wall at Lake Paranga and it can take me up to 6 hours to fish four kilometres of river. I will fish a stretch of river one day and then the next day will try another area 5 or 10 kms further upstream or downstream, I never fish the same section in consecutive days. I will return to that area a week or two later sometimes as it depends on how my catch rate was for that stretch of river. Some areas seem to produce a lot more fish than others at different times of the season, and over a period of time fishing not only this river but any river one gets to know the better sections to fish.

105 mersey wade 
 Much of the Mersey is wadable, but take care

Like many rivers the Mersey has its deep slow flowing and shallow fast water sections of water that all produce good catches of quality trout. I prefer to fish the fast water sections, as this, to me, has always been the most productive areas for both the brown and rainbow trout.

As with any river you fish you must get in and wade it if you want to catch a bag of trout. If you don’t get into the river and cast to every section you can reach, you will probably be going home empty handed! As I wrote in my last article (Tasmanian Fishing News: Edition 102: Spinning Basics) light tackle is essential when river fishing for trout and for those of you that missed the edition, well here it is again.

Use a lightweight rod, a good quality reel 2 kg. monofilament line and not a cheap one. As for lure selection you can choose from the metal blade spinners, hard body bibbed lures, squidgies etc. I am a user of the blade spinner and there are many that work extremely well,such as Insects, Blue Fox-Vibrax, Mepps, Celtas plus a lot of other brands available to choose from. There many tackle stores that you can visit to purchase all of the equipment you will require for trout fishing the Mersey River.

When fishing the Mersey or any other river make your way to the middle section of it where possible, by doing this you should be able to cast and reach both sides of the river. I know there will be parts of the river that will be too deep to wade out to, so just go out to a level that you feel comfortable with. DO NOT take any risks as no fish is worth drowning for. Once you have made your way out to the centre or thereabouts, then start your first cast to one river bank and work your way around by making the next cast about one metre apart until you have completed 180 degrees. Do this at least three times then move upstream another six metres and repeat the same procedure. By fishing this way you cover every bit of river and your catch rate will be right up there with the best of them.

As for the fly fisher, well you guys already know how to work a river and duns, caddis, black spinner flies etc all work well on the Mersey. Bait fishers can use worms early in the season (August-September) and later in the season wattle grubs, crickets, black cockroaches and grass hoppers all produce fish.

A good section of river to fish is above the Union Bridge on the road from Sheffield to Mole Creek, as this area is very accessible with plenty of open space for parking. Here you can sit back and relax and bait fish in the big deep pool next to the bridge or slip into your waders and fish upstream from the top of the pool. The long stretch of river above this pool is wade-able for at least 3 to 4 kms. I have had some excellent catches of both brown and rainbow trout in this area. Although the fish are not over large, there is still good fishing to be had throughout this section of the Mersey River. The odd fish over one kilogram, is taken, but most fish average around 350 gms. They put up a pretty good fight on light tackle, especially in the fast water sections. Below the bridge is also worth fishing, but this is private property and permission MUST be obtained from the Landowner before entering this area.

Further up there is the little farming area of Liena and this also has some very good trout fishing, and you can park your vehicle next to the bridge and walk to the river from there. Access is quite easy and this is one more area where you can go off wading upstream or sit back and bait fish the large pool next to the bridge.

From here you can only fish upstream, as it is pretty tough going downstream due to the heavy under growth and rough terrain. Upstream is very accessible and relatively easy to fish as it is quite an open area and very wade able. Some very good sections of water are in this upper part of the Mersey whether you are spinning, fly,or bait fishing as all these methods will give up a fish or two.

There is one other area that also is easy to access and it is above and below the bridge on Oliver’s Road and parking and camping is allowed *(a Parks permit required and bait fishing is not allowed here above the bridge in the reserve) in the Croesus State Reserve on the right hand side coming from Sheffield. Fishing above and below the bridge is reasonably good here too. If you don’t want to travel this far then try fishing some of the lower sections of the Mersey as there are still quite a few easy accessible areas to fish.

Places such as Kimberly and Merseylea are two that come to mind, and here you will find some very good stretches of river to fish. This area is mainly dairy farmland and you will need to get permission to gain access to certain areas that do not have the Anglers Access signs on them. Most landholders are very fair as long as you respect their wishes and do the right thing. If you don’t then you will not only ruin it for yourself but for others who wish to fish there. Please take your litter away with when you leave any of the areas that you fish as this has been a growing concern of late and there are no excuses for not taking it with you.

When wading the Mersey River care should be taken in most sections of river that you fish as the bottom is covered with rounded rocks of all sizes. This can and does make wading quite tiring so if you are the frail type do not try it, do your fishing from the river bank. Most times of the year they can be quite slippery, but the rewards are great as hard as it can be, you will catch trout.

You will also get too see the local resident Platypuses in many sections of the Mersey River, some thing that is not a common occurrence on many other rivers. You can’t get it any better than that, so pack your fishing gear into the car and give the Mersey River a try, and remember to treat it with respect.

Mersey River in brief

A long and open river ideal for fly fishing, spinning or bait fishing that holds wild brown, rainbow trout and native blackfish from above Lake Rowallan to Latrobe. The river bottom is full of small to medium size rocks that can be quite slippery at certain times of the year, so care must be taken when wading the river.

The river above Lake Rowallan is classed as rainbow waters and is mainly fast water and does give up some nice size rainbow and brown trout. Access to the river is by a steep walk of around 1 km from the top car park above the lake.

Lake Rowallan is also a rainbow water, and can be fished by boat or from the many open areas of shoreline. The lake also holds brown trout. Below Rowallan it is classed brown trout water, brown and rainbow trout plus native blackfish can be caught.

Lake Parangana is best suited to boat fishing as access is restricted for fishing from the shore. There is access next to the bridge below Parangana and the river can be fished (by wading) right back up to the dam wall. Downstream from the bridge there are several open stretches of river that can be accessed after a little bush bashing.

Mole Creek Cons Park and Liena: above and below the bridge has some great fast water sections that holds quite a lot of small to medium browns with the odd rainbow being caught. It is best suited to wading. Bait fishing above the bridge in the Cons park is not allowed and a Parks Pass is also required to enter the area.

Union Bridge Mole Creek: another good area that holds some nice browns and rainbows above and below the bridge. Wading or fishing from the shore can be done here too, and is a great open water for fly fishing, spin fishing and bait fishing.

Weegena: this area has some excellent spinner hatches and holds a lot of fish, especially the long stretch of water below Dylans Bridge. Early morning and late afternoon it is not uncommon to see 20 to 30 fish on the rise surface feeding here. The river has some deeper water here and care must be taken.

Kimberley – Merseylea: long wide open stretches of river perfect for the fly and spin fishers and ample room for the bait fisher too. This lower area of the Mersey does hold some nice browns that can tip the scales close to two kilograms, but these are pretty cunning fish and it takes an expert to catch them. Another area that is very good for fly fishing.

Warrawee National Park, Latrobe: Wide open water with long slow flowing and fast water sections that give up some nice brown trout. The river here is much deeper and there are not as many areas for wading but there are several stretches of open river banks that can be easily fished with the fly or lure. Bait fishing is allowed up to the entrance of the Warrawee National Park.

The following is by permission from Neil Morrow Project Manager, IFS Department.

Following months of negotiations with landowners and extensive property surveys installation work on the Mersey River Anglers Access project is well advanced. This project is the eighth river access project to date and has been made possible with a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund and the oversight of Anglers Alliance Tasmania. Project Manager Neil Morrow reports that the Mersey River will likely be the most comprehensive access project undertaken when completed in time for the 2013/14 angling season. With access at key locations throughout the catchment from the mouth of the river at Bells Parade in Latrobe to Lake Parangana there will be enough variety to cater for all methods of angling throughout the season. Of course this project would not be possible without the generous support and cooperation of landowners and the Latrobe, Kentish and Meander Valley Councils. Anglers will notice signs, stiles and other access infrastructure that has been installed around the Latrobe, Warrawee Forest Reserve, Merseylea, Kimberley and many areas upstream as far as Lake Rowallan, these are now all completed. The Anglers Access brochure and map will be published and available for the start of the 2013-14 Season. The project team reported seeing good fish at many of the access locations!

Anglers Access brochures are available at most Tackle Stores, selected Tasmanian Visitor Information Centers and online at http://www.ifs.tas.gov.au/about-us/publications/angler-access-brochures

The Mersey River has also received 300 adult Browns (700 gms) direct from Great Lake during the closed season and this will help to increase fish stocks in the future after spawning.

Adrian Webb

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