Lake Burbury - A first timer's view

by Andrew Hart

I had plenty of time to think. Over four hours of staring out a bus window non-stop can become a little boring; but with music from my walkman pumping, I just sat and tried to imagine what the weekend would offer. Hopefully big fish.

A five pound brown kept popping up in my head; as did the sight of a grassy wind lane with snouts slurping, and dries disappearing. I was off to Lake Burbury with my mate, Johno, who lives in Smithton. Firstly, Johno and I bussed from Launceston to Smithton on Friday evening. After a short night's sleep, apparently we got up around 4:30 am and towed the boat to Queenstown. I can't really remember that part of my teenage brain doesn't activate until at least mid-morning! Another two of Johno's friends and his dad made up the rest of the fishing party. We had two boats, lots of gear, lots of food and three days to catch a trout. We pulled in at Queenstown, booked in at a backpacker-type hostel, climbed up a mountain, launched the boat and wound in the first fish about half and hour later. The little rainbow that ate the lure was the first of fifty five trout that we caught in three days fishing. Actually, only two and a half days when you count travel time!

I have never seen so many trout. At times they were like a school of salmon; double hook-ups, instant takes and hard pulling browns and rainbows made the fishing side of things exciting. Any method, any place, anytime would produce fish, so I'm not going to tell you how to fish Lake Burbury, instead I'd like to tell you what I expected, and what you can expect as a first timer.

Not big fish

Two years ago, people where saying that Burbury would become another Lake Pedder. This may have seemed true as year by year the average size of fish kept rising, and people started catching trophies. Today, however, Lake Burbury is over stocked. There are so many fish in the tea-coloured waters that for a trout to reach a heavy size, he would have to be cannibalistic or on steroids because he has too many mates to compete with when finding food. We did not catch a fish over three pounds ( I saw a few bigger fish strung up, but we must have being doing something wrong.) Most fish we boated were about one and half pounds. Some of the browns seemed out of condition, but the little rainbows were fat and fit. I had expected to catch a lot of old, slabby, big headed trout, but generally the fish were not too bad. The rainbows certainly pulled for their size, and left us with some memorable aerial displays.

but lots of fish

If I was a mathematician, I could tell you the average amount of time we would go without catching a fish- it would not have been long. Fifty five is a lot of trout for a young river fishermen like myself. The fish were everywhere,  especially in close to the banks, and they were, to put it bluntly, dumb.

Burbury's big plus is that the fish are easy to catch. Regardless of the weather, anyone can catch a fish, particularly on a lure. Whether you cast or troll a trout lure of any type, you would have to be very, very, very, very unlucky not to catch a trout. If you do decide to go, a boat is important, but it can blow hard, so take care.

A good weekend

I can thoroughly recommend a few days at Lake Burbury. The scenery is unique, the fishing superb; and being only fifteen minutes from Queenstown, it must be one of the more convenient, isolated lakes in Tasmania. You can go to Burbury and expect to catch fish. I particularly enjoyed it because to me trout have never been a fish that you can expect to catch in countless numbers. I value every fish I catch, and it was certainly an eye-opening experience to visit a place where if you don't catch ten or eleven, you've had a bad day. Also there are bound to be a few trophies still ready to grab your line in this wild piece of water. A weekend down the west coast is well worth your while if catching a lot of trout is your thing.
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