West of the Western Lakes

The Oxford dictionary defines the word "sublime"  as "so impressive as to inspire awe or wonder" . And if there ever was one perfect setting that fits this definition it was Lake Meston in late October.  Situated south of Lake Rowallan weather in this region can be iffy but we managed to plan our three day trip perfectly. Whilst there was substantial snow cover on the Overland Track and Walls of Jerusalem peaks, Lake Meston, nestled in-between was almost tropical! Well that might be taking things too far but it was mild, calm conditions and I reckon if there really is a Garden of Eden then this was pretty close to it!

Gin clear water with a backdrop of  pencil pine and eucalypt forest right to waters edge Lake Meston is just one Tasmania's many wilderness lakes that few people have the privilege to fish. It would be even more majestic if the numerous silver, sun weathered and ancient pencil pine skeletons were still alive. Some of these may have lived for over a thousand years only to be decimated by wildfire probably in the 1960's.

And to really set the scene there's a hefty rainbow whacking my lure.  Just prior to my cast I remembered the words of my uncle Max Langham, truly a pioneer angler in the western lakes, "cast to the rocks" because in clear water such as this that's where they'll be sheltering.  Sure enough as the Tillins swung past a big boulder on the left it was ambushed by a fish of three pounds that set the little Shimano bait runner screaming. Whilst it was a heavy pull the fish did not get out of the water at all and I was left a bit disappointed knowing the  aerial antics of rainbows.  Without any net I needed to find a suitable rocky ledge to ease the fish onto and after a few minutes was able to extract the hooks from a slabby buck male that really should have weighed in at five pounds. The fish showed clear signs of a brutal spawning season with badly worn under belly and tattered caudal (tail) fin most likely nipped by other aggressive males. Yep, very disappointed.

When it comes to spinners I have always been a bit reluctant to use them in the past because, in my experience, they leave your line in a twisted mess.  The standard way of eliminating twist is by placing an anti-kink between 400mm and 600mm in front of the spinner, swivel down, toward the spinner. Just recently I heard about left and right hand spinners and I spoke to Allen Best at Tillins Lures about this.  He told me when they're constructed 50% of two inch "Ashleys" have the fins fixed so that the lure spins in the opposite direction thus having the effect of unwinding any twist if you alternate every 20 to 30 casts. No I'm not pulling your leg" Allen tells me this really helps solve any twisting problems. And he also tells me they have been making them like this for fifty ever since Ted Tillin started the business.

Moving to a different spot again the Shimano jumped into action and the Penn 6lb monofil stretched to the limit. This was a different fish altogether with one charging dash after another followed by unbelievable aerobatics; talk about exciting!  Unfortunately this was catching as I failed to dip my rod when he came out of the water for a third time and was gone! A quick cast in the opposite direction and I was onto another fish.   I had learnt a quick lesson and played him for several minutes before gently slipping him onto a grassy bank. Talk about mind boggling, the silvery beauty and condition of this three pounder was amazing. A gut inspection revealed heaps of gum beatles, snails, stick caddis, diving beatles and at least one yabby claw so there's plenty of tucker in this area for  fish to attain peak condition. This provides the inquisitive angler with a good idea for successful fly patterns.

One good reason why some may avoid this area is the abundance of snakes and we encountered a whopping tiger close to the hut, a copperhead and a couple of whip snakes on the track toward Lake Adelaide. Surprisingly we did not sight one wallaby although there were plenty of fresh scats including wombat and devil. Don't feed the heaps of possums at the hut as they can be a bit of a nuisance although very cute. One cheeky bugger tried to steal a rainbow hanging in the lean to!

Another reason for second thoughts would be the steep climb up the tiers from Lake Rowallan that should only be tackled by moderate to fit walkers. I would still recommend a few weeks training before setting out on this climb but once at the top of the tiers it is pleasant walking on a reasonably well defined track. Having said that, in some sections you need to keep alert for tapes or cairns to ensure you stay on the track. There are some boggy sections and although there is plenty of water enroute you should still carry a water bottle.

Sunday, our last day dawned calm and mild and before breakfast I hooked another nice rainbow, the biggest, just under four pounds and again in magnificent condition. For what was one full days fishing the final tally was Released 1, Lost 3, Higgs 3, a very satisfying result. The icing on the cake as it were!
On the way out there are great views over Lake Poa with King Davids Peak and West Walls in the background. The northern end of Lake Myrtle is a good pit stop for lunch or indeed a campsite.

For an all round wilderness and fishing experience that does require some serious exercise I can recommend Lake Meston and surrounds. If you decide to have a crack at it ensure your safety by registering (enquire at Parks & Wildlife, Mole Creek) and carry a compass and 1:25000 locality map. Oh, and a tent as the hut has only four bunks and it may be full when you arrive.

Tight lines,  Quenton Higgs
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