Polaroiding Central Highlands

The highlight of any season usually revolves around the best days sight fishing. Memories of the hunt, approach, cast and hook set will remain in your mind long after those of another ‘flogged up’ have gone. The main prerequisite for this style of fishing are sunshine and cloudless days – two things that should become more plentiful from now until the end of the season. Good polaroiding water is not hard to find but some places are easier than others in which to find fish while others are simply better.

Here are some waters in the highlands that I think are worth considering on the next big blue sky day.

Flora and O’Dells
These two lakes are a short walk from an informal car park area near Lake Ada. O’Dells, is the first lake you will arrive at. Much of the lake has a silty bottom making wading difficult but the willingness of the trout to swim close to the bank means that wading is rarely necessary. Traditionally, a walk around the top of the lake and then down the western shore is the best approach and I see no need to break with tradition here! Fish will cruise hard in along the undercut banks and are quite easy to see against the uniform bottom. Once you get to the bottom of the lake, a firm but small sandy beach extends a few metres out from the bank and can be easily waded. Although the eastern shore is rocky and the light rarely good enough to have polaroiding of equal standard, it should not be over looked and is a worth while fall back if other people have walked the opposite shore
A short stroll down to Flora and a similar approach will apply. Again, the western shore provides more options and by this time of the day, the sun should well and truly be behind you. The beach at the southern end is extensive and don’t neglect the very shallow water! Fishing these two lakes is a great way to spend the day, and the walk, although not tough, adds to the adventure.

This must surely be the most popular of all the Nineteen Lagoons. A very popular lake among locals and especially mainland visitors, Botsford  is a very easy lake to polaroid. The wading is generally very good although be mindful of a few silt patches such as the one immediately to the left of the initial car park! The bottom is very uniform and the fish as easy to spot as you could imagine. The down side to Botsford is its popularity. Being a lake with great access, good wading, good size fish (although not as big as in years gone by) and a light coloured contrasting bottom, its patronage is understandable. Don’t neglect the lagoons which extend beyond the main body of the lake towards Lake Kay. Due to its popularity, the fish can sometimes become well educated although a well placed small nymph seems to do the trick when dry flies are being ignored. Dun hatches can also bring about good rises and this is a rare place where fish can be polaroided while they eat mayflies with regularity.

Little Pine Lagoon
Not noted as a polaroiding water, this lake has already experienced exceptional polaroiding this season. Lake levels are important to make the most out of a day and when they are low, the fluro green substrate provides a wonderful back drop on which to polaroid. The surrounding hills often funnel the wind over the dam wall and this means that casting into the wind is common place. My first ever fly fishing trip was on Little Pine and I can clearly remember watching Jim Ferrier catch fish after fish in front of me polaroiding with a stick caddis – nothing has changed. The fish are not always easy to spot and presentation needs to be spot on but when it is good, it is more than very good. There is no one shore that I would suggest but don’t fall into the trap of always fishing with the wind at your back. It is often easier to get closer to the fish when fishing into the wind. Fly selection will also become less of a mystery as mayflies start to appear in numbers.

Great Lake
Without doubt the most under fished lake in Tasmania is the Great Lake. I could write volume and volumes on polaroiding this lake but will try and summarise it here. Shore based fishing is exceptional and boat based fishing is ten times better than exceptional when conditions are right. If confined to the shore, there is not one shore I would refuse to fish. The best of them however will have black silt extending from the lake edge and a seep running through the rocky shoreline. These are everywhere. It is rare to find a fishery where fish seem to prefer the dry fly to the wet and will rise from such depths to eat it. Look for a greeny colouration over the rocks and this will surely be a fish. A northerly is the best wind but in fact, it hardly matters when you are on foot. At the end of November a fish estimated at over eight pounds was spotted cruising across a concrete boat ramp just as the boat was being put into the water. Two years ago I had the same experience when I stopped the boat before the waters edge, stood on the back of the boat for elevation and caught a rainbow and a brown which were cruising where my wheels were about to be.
For those in boats, there has been a lot said about ‘shark’ fishing. It is not rocket science and the presence of sunshine and a northerly wind should have you calling in sick for at work. Beetles have been over plentiful this season and the trout are hunting them. Although slightly more fussy than the shore based fish, the deep water dwellers are sucker for most beetle imitations.

I bet you didn’t think this would make it into a list of good polaroiding waters! The edges of Penstock have always held big fish. Due to its poor colouration, it is not a lake that people immediately think of going to when the light is good but think again. If you are after numbers, it would not be number one on my list but for quality, it is right up there. The clay around the strap weed on the south eastern end of the lake is well worth a look as are the dam walls and the Ladies Walk. Fish will often lie ‘dogo’ so move slowly. A nymph or Red Tag often works well although I have had enough success polaroiding in front of the reeds around the canal with a loop winged CDC emerger to keep these at hand. Be patient and success will come.
One of the beauties of Tasmania is the options that we, as fishermen have got. The most difficult decision to make is not which lake to go to, but which one to miss out. It is easy to keep going back to the waters we know well but without experimentation comes complacency. You will be astounded at the quality of the polaroiding in places you didn’t think were worth visiting. Sun, wind and a handful of your favourite dry flies is all that is needed. With a warm but wet summer forecast grab every opportunity possible to use the sunshine and broaden your horizons. It is ‘our’ way of fishing and to have the world’s best waters for it on our door step and not be making the most of it would be tragic. Having said that, it would leave more fish for me!

Christopher Bassano

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