Presented from Issue 99
Lake Pedder. It used to be a good fishery right? Wrong, it was an exceptional fishery. Through the late 70s and early 80s the trout from this iconic south west water averaged an astonishing 4kg. That was the average weight not the good fish but the average weight. There has never been a fishery like it and there never is likely to be ever again.
What does surprise many is it’s a great fishery now. The trout are nothing like those of years gone by but they are in great condition, fight hard and in numbers that would be astounding if it could ever be calculated. Large bags are common and the quality of fish is very good. So often when it comes up in conversation people are surprised to hear it offers some great fishing to all artificial methods. And most always add that they’ve never been but have always wanted to make the trip out.
It’s well worth it, the scenery alone is unparalleled, panoramas that extend 360 degrees when you’re out on the water. Some areas of the lake it’s breath taking at times. For someone new to the water the fishing possibilities are much the same. You can round a point and be mesmerized by the bay in front of you, flooded tea tree sloping banks into weed rich water, fish rising, sometimes clear of the water chasing damselfly on the wing, only to go around the next point and see it open up again into a better looking bay and another and so on.
The sheer size of the lake is astonishing.
Standing at the Lake Pedder Chalet looking south down the lake to a majestic mountain range far off in the distance which is only half way down the lake it’s evident the volume of water in Lake Pedder is phenomenal but yet not even close to that of its neighbour, Lake Gordon. Lake Pedder has a surface area of some 242 square kilometres and holds some 3.3 million mega litres of water. Nearby Lake Gordon is not much larger in surface area at 272km3 but holds an astonishing 11.9 million mega litres behind its 160m high dam which is one of the most impressive sights you will ever see. Well worth the 10 minute drive to see past the town of
Lake Pedder is open all year, offering some fantastic winter angling. Sure it can get pretty nasty in the south west, but as with anywhere a good Tasmanian winter day is magical. The trout are hungry and feed well after spawning. Lure fishing is your best option at this time of the year, both trolling and drift spinning. Traditional green and gold or black and gold colours fish well, and a splash of orange won’t go astray. Traditionally pink or purples have been very successful and remain so in the present fishery. Trout can’t resist a hot pink Tassie Devil anywhere and at Pedder it’s a great colour.
Moving in to the season proper it remains a lure fishing prospect until the warm days of summer arrive. The lake fishes extremely well around late October and November with the traditional trolling anglers doing very well on green and gold colours.
Much of the lake will produce fish but the most popular and accessible area is the myriad of bays, inlets, islands and passages of Hermit Basin. It’s the first piece of Lake Pedder you sight on the road to Strathgordon. From Hobart you can be landing your first fish well and truly under two hours. And one of the most productive shores stretches north from the boat ramp and is very fish right throughout the year.
Summer mudeye madness
Once summer arrives the lake in my mind comes alive. The mudeye fishing can be simply amazing. And on the right day it can go 24 hours a day. At first light fish will patrol the shallows and searching or casting to rising fish with a rabbit for fly is as good as anything. The foam Cubit mudeye is also deadly. I would recommend the sinking variety in daylight hours. As the sun gets higher in the sky and the dragonflies and damselflies take to the wing the fish can be seen leaping high into the air chasing these fast moving insects. It’s a sight to behold as it doesn’t really happen as much as this elsewhere. There are blue damselfly patterns available but I find a large nondescript bushy dry as good as any. Large black spinner patterns also work well.
On dusk it’s back to the mudeye patterns sinking at first and then in the surface film as darkness falls. A good size fish engulphing your fly in the dead of night can certainly get the heart racing. This action on the right night can continue right through to dawn and the cycle goes on. December and January are the prime months but these insects will continue right out of the tail of summer.
Summer midges and windlanes
February and March are also very good for the fly angler but I prefer to target the midge feeders at this time. Without doubt the largest midge hatches I have ever seen occur at Pedder. Some mornings the slicks can run for literally kilometres. An Olive Klinkhammer is my favoured fly for the trout feeding on these midges. Given the terrain around the lake wind lanes are a feature any day of the week in all but the windiest of weather. Fish patrol these long lanes all day long. Again a large black spinner patter works well. Drifting the shore lines a smaller Zulu is my weapon of choice and casting out in front of a steadily rising trout rarely brings a refusal. It can be a great spot to build ones confidence early on the fly. Right through summer, lure fishing is still very rewarding but I limit it to drift spinning only. Midging trout will often take a well presented hard body here which avoids the long frustrations of most other waters.
Nearing the end of the regular season the best spots to fish are all the bays with any inflowing water. Trout are beginning to congregate ready for spawning. Lure casting from a drifting boat is by far the most productive method at this time of the year and brighter lures with orange, pink or red highlights will get plenty of interest. This lake is drastically over stocked such is the high number of perfect spawning creeks that abound. It was these many creeks that brought an end to the big fish days. As the number of fish climbed in the lake, the average size steadily fell. Today it hovers around the 500g mark. There are some very large fish still out there but there are so many smaller fish to get through they are few and far between in anglers bags.
A very small head of rainbow trout are in the lake and would account for probably less than .01% of the catch. Those caught are usually of a better than average size.
So why did the fish get so big so fast back in the late 70s? It was a combination of things. The two biggest factors were a small head of trout and an explosion in numbers of the Pedder Galaxia. Sadly the Pedder Galaxia would become almost extinct through both predation from trout and loss of suitable habitat and competition from the far more adaptable Climbing Galaxia. But while they were there they provided an easy meal for the trout that grew at an astonishing rate. The IFS has established two self-sustaining populations of Pedder Galaxia in the years following their decline. The species was almost lost when just a few specimens were captured from exhaustive searching. Lake Oberon in the Western Arthur Ranges now holds a good number of the species and they continue to breed successfully. A second population was established close to the Strathgordon village and it too has showed promising results. It is extremely unlikely the Pedder Galaxia will ever re-establish in the lake itself.
Today the average weight is climbing again and the better fish are all feeding on the native yabby that inhabit the lake. It would seem their numbers are increasing as evidence of their consumption is becoming far more common almost to the point where it is odd if a trout does not have a yabby claw in its stomach. I did take a trout two years ago that had two large galaxia in its stomach. These were presented to the IFS as it was a sight not seen for many many years.
Searching the lake will certainly bring reward. There are some magic little bays far and wide all over the lake. Popular areas include Hermit Basin, Wilmot Bay, Trappes Inlet, Bells Basin and Serpentine in the northern end. In the south Maria Bay, Huon Inlet, Tea Tree Cove, Giblin Bay and around Solitary and Barrier Islands.
There is camping available at Teds Beach and Sprent Basin in the north and Edgar Dam and Huon Camp in the south. The Lake Pedder Chalet is now open once again and offers both meals and accommodation year round.
A National Park Pass is required to visit the lake and anglers are advised to check their Angling Code for the latest information from IFS.
Back to Pedder 2013
A highlight of the Pedder fishery is the annual Back to Pedder fishing comp run each year by the Lake Pedder Anglers Club. The event attracts hundreds to the lake each January and is one of the most enjoyable comps on the calendar. In the past the LPAC has hosted families from Camp Quality and donate tens of thousands of dollars to the charity. Last year the McGrath Foundation was also a beneficiary of funds raised. The club runs and auction on the Saturday night each year and has a great list of generous and regular sponsors. None more so than Channel Marine, Kings Towbars and Trailers and Tristar Marine. They combine each year to provide the club with a boating package to give away at the end of the comp. This year a 4.5m boat, 40hp 4 stroke Mercury and Dunbier Trailer will make a $25,000 package. Pretty impressive prize for the lucky person drawn out of the barrel at conclusion of the event. In the last few years several junior anglers have been the lucky recipients.
Launching at Teds Beach