Somewhere completely different
The heading sounds like something from a Monty Python sketch, but Shane Flude teaches us here about the joys of fishing and exploring. Or maybe that should be exploring and fishing. Nevertheless, sometimes, probably more often than you perhaps do, you should put some boots and a pack on and walk to the fishing. Walking is one of the easiest and healthiest things to do. So take a tip and take a trip by foot with Shane and discover new water.
Its quite rare these days to visit a large inland water and catch trout after researching the area to discover that all the guide books say it is trout free.
So just how could a 4 km long, 1 km wide lake in the upper Mersey remain as unknown as it apparently has been up until now. I guess because it is situated in a glacial bowl surrounded by rainforest and has been overlooked by the excellent rainbow trout fishing a few kilometres further up the track. Its time to put Lake Louisa on the fishing map and reveal this hidden jewel in the upper Mersey.
Lake Louise is situated just a few kilometres south of Lake Rowallan at an elevation of 847m, about the same as Lake Echo. Its fed by waters from Lakes Adelaide, Charles and Poa and drains into Rowallan via Juno Creek, itself a major spawning stream of Rowallan. It sits in quite a distinct glacial valley, shaped rather like a large banana and can really only be viewed by walking to the edge of the escarpment that surrounds it. The crystal clear waters plunge dramatically into the blue green depths around much of the shoreline. Other shores feature some shallows and pin rush type weed beds extend into the lake in several places. Overall I would estimate this lake to be extremely deep, my portable depth sounder has not yet made the trip with me so I can't give a precise figure. The lake is completely surrounded by rainforest which becomes quite thick towards the northern end and difficult to walk through. The forest opens out towards the southern end and is simply magnificent to wander through. Thick scrub extends right to the lakeshore around the entire lake and apart from narrow openings or small rocky points every few hundred metres the banks are basically unfishable. Some shores could be waded but this lake is best fished from a float tube, boat or canoe.
There is no specific walking track to Lake Louisa although the Lake Myrtle track, which is the main walking track to Meston, passes quite close by and it is from this track that I have visited the lake. The Myrtle track starts in bushland just past Juno Creek on the Mersey Forest Road. It is not actually named at the start but a small carpark and standard fuel stove only sign mark the beginning. The first kilometre is not for the fainthearted, especially if you are carrying a full overnight pack. Its rises from 570 metres to almost 900. It flattens out considerably for the next 1.5 kilometres through open scrub before topping out at 950 metres. Another kilometre further on down a gradual descending open marsh sees you at Lake Bill. A delightful campsite is situated on the approach to this lake quite close to the water. A thriving population of brown trout to about 2.5 lb now inhabit this lake and most of the shoreline can be easily waded. The walking track around the eastern side of Lake Bill was altered further away from the lakeshore many years ago and as such the track depicted on the old Cathedral 1:25 000 sheet is now inaccurate by a few hundred metres. It is here on the track that the easiest access to Louisa is obtained. An obvious saddle to the escarpment is only about 200 metres from the Myrtle track along the eastern side of Lake Bill. Simply walk off track up this saddle to the rim surrounding the lake. Thick rainforest drops away at your feet and you should just be able to catch a tiny glimpse of the northern part of the lake. Descend directly into the forest and follow the small valley that leads down to the waters edge about 700 metres away. During the last 300 metres the forest opens up with huge Myrtles and Sassafras. Once near the shore it is then just a matter of deciding which way to go. As I described earlier if you stick to the land the forest becomes increasingly thick the further north you go, the southern most shores are far more accessible and enjoyable to walk through.
Officially Lake Louisa has never been stocked with either brown or rainbow trout. When I first visited the water in 2000 I discovered it held a reasonable population of browns to about 2.5 lb. Imagine the monsters that must have surely swam around in the early days. The lake now appears to support a larger population of browns to about 2 pound and in early 2009 they were in excellent condition. I have not caught rainbows but cannot discount them at this stage. Numerous smaller fish can now be seen around the shallows of the lake. A short walk up the inflow creek towards Lake Charles reveals a number of quarter pounders in most small pools. I can only guess that this shingly stream has now become a major spawning stream. The other major inflow runs in from Lake Adelaide, this stream however is far steeper and trout would probably be able to spawn only in the first few hundred metres. Regardless of the lake's apparently limited spawning grounds it appears to now support a fairly high population of smallish fish. It was rumoured years ago that Lake Adelaide supported a small population of trout, if so then it is quite possible that some of these made their way downstream and seeded Lake Louisa. Lakes Bill and Myrtle were apparently stocked in the late nineties, it is also possible that Louisa was stocked around the same time by the same person. Certainly the fish size in both Bill and Louisa were very similar in 2000. Regardless of their origins they are now firmly established and will not be fished out any time soon.
The fully bush encircled shoreline of Louisa dictates the fishing methods that will prevail. It is obviously best fished from a boat and due to its remote nature float tubes or boats are the only real choice. Once floating around the shoreline the opportunities are endless and all methods would be possible. If the wind gets up however as it did on my last trip the row back can be interesting. On a perfect calm sunny day the fishing and scenery are simply superb. The setting is reminiscent of a New Zealand South Island lake, OK the fish may be a bit smaller. I can guarantee you will not be disturbed by other anglers.
Apart from boat fishing the restricted shores offer very limited shore fishing and unless you have mastered 20 ft roll casts then fly fishing from the bank is definitely out. The lake lends itself well to soft plastic and spin fishing along the many deeper shores but you would still need to wade out along the edges to cover any reasonable distance. In general terms Lake Louisa will never rate amongst Tassies top ten fishing locations but the sheer isolation and grandeur of the area make up for it. Dare to venture somewhere completely different, try Lake Louisa, you will not be disappointed.