More Opening Tips

Derwent Huon Tamar Rivers                  

These three Estuary Systems and their sister systems around the State always produce fish early in the season and usually from the opening weekend onwards.

Opening Weekend
Trout anglers can pursue sea-runners in the lower tidal reaches where they should be lurking around waiting for the first of the annual whitebait runs. These fish will normally strike any cobra, spoon or pegron style lure with a flash of silver in its colour scheme and should be targeted around prominent points and deeper shores, on an incoming tide either early or late in the day. My hint with the sea-running trout is to use one of the many wobbler style lures on the market. This type lure is extremely effective in shallow water and it produces a wounded baitfish type action that is sure to elicit a response. For the best results on sea-runners in this early part of the season, fish low down in the tidal areas. I like a bronze and black colour.

Those choosing to fish the Derwent River should start off fishing between the Tasman Bridge and Granton, while those fishing the Huon, try spinning and trolling between Port Huon and the Huonville town-ship. Northern anglers fishing the ever improving Tamar River should try their luck between Gravelly Beach and Windermere/Rosevears. There are often plenty of fish further up, but often they are harder to get to. The Tailrace at Trevallyn is often great, as is the lower part of the Cataract Gorge and the North Esk River up to, and often beyond Killafaddy. Chasing estuary trout can be, at times, one of the most rewarding opening weekend fisheries in the State, and being semi-coastal and lower in altitude than highland waters, a lot warmer as well.

Central Highland Lakes
Rug-up and prepare your trip well, as conditions in the highlands can be cold.  Normally lake trout on the opening weekend, unlike their coastal counterparts, are a little slower to take a lure, bait or fly. Do not despair, for the persistent angler can normally tempt even the fussiest of trout into savaging a lure. Best colours statewide are green and gold, black and bronze, gold with black and finally brown and silver. Remember to start with the basics and experiment with brighter colours from there.

Over recent weeks the central highland lakes have received constant heavy amounts of rain and should be on the rise.  As these central lakes and rivers begin to rise, trout will investigate and actively feed in newly flooded lake margins, picking up drowned worms and new season corby grubs - even the odd spider. More often than not, these areas will be quite shallow, weedy and clogged with various kinds of flotsam and jetsam. In these testing situations, try using a small streamlined 4 - 7grm cobra with a size 6 O'shaugnessy style single hook, which will tend to snag less than a treble and also ensures a better hook-up rate. Another popular style of lure that is an absolute deadly killer in shallow lake margins and larger rivers, is the 1 inch Tillens spinner available in a dozen or so popular colours.  
For best results on opening weekend try the following areas:

Arthurs Lake
The beauty about fishing some of the larger lakes is that regardless of what the weather is doing, a sheltered fishing spot can normally be found. Arthurs Lake is probably the most heavily fished, popular and productive water in the state. The deep, cool, food enriched waters of Arthurs are usually only too keen to give up a fish or two during the first few weeks of the season.  In recent years opening weekend trout have been caught feeding deep, and a change in fishing methods for all facets of angling have normally produced the goods. Fly anglers may have traditionally "deep nymphed" the known weed beds from drifting boats, and I suggest that trolling anglers employ the use of deeper running bibbed minnows, flat fish and even 2 - 3 colours of leadline to get their lures further down in the water column. Troller's should concentrate on the morass and sandlake areas. Spin fishermen either fishing from a boat or the shore are advised to use bibbed minnows and deeper running cobra style lures.  If these lures are not your preferred style, simply slow down your retrieve rate to allow your lure to sink closer to the bottom, where early season fish are more likely to be working. Best colours for Arthurs regardless of lure style is definitely a "frog pattern'.

If spinning off the shore at Arthurs, try and chose a point or deep drop off. These areas should be slightly warmer than surrounding marsh shallows and are well worth a look.  Sheltered camping areas on the western side of the lake at Pumphouse Bay are available and will add to the quality of an early season trip.

Great Lake
Great Lake is situated at around 1030M above sea level and is mainly fed water from the Liawenee canal, and numerous other feeder creeks. In recent weeks the lake will have received nourishing winter rains and should be starting to rise. Normally the lake is in a constant process of being raised and lowered which tends to benefit anglers in a number of ways. In times of low water, ie at present, anglers can access the numerous life supporting weed beds that Great Lake browns and rainbows feed off so extensively. Normally, the food enriched weed beds are only found by trolling anglers using deep running lures and leadlines. At the moment due to lower levels trollers using standard flat lines are in with a chance, as their lures will pass closer to the bottom giving early season trout an opportunity to snap at them. Shore based spin and bait anglers wont miss out either, and will find themselves within casting distance of these major weed beds in the numerous sheltered bays and shorelines, particularly along the Lakes western edges.   

Spin fishermen using cobras and larger spoons will do particularly well off deeper rocky shorelines. My favourite is the ever-popular Beehives and Swan Bay areas. Changing to shallower running wonder style wobblers and duchess lures will allow anglers to take trout at the head of many shallow bays that are usually fed by slowly trickling drains.

Tooms Lake
Well this Lake certainly turned out to be a little gem last year. Spring rains brought on by numerous low-pressure cells during October last year, saw this water rise and reach its maximum capacity. Continual easterly weather throughout the season ensured the water level remained high. Trout moved into the shallows and fed well. The good news this season is water levels are still high and trout should be, as they were last year, found foraging and lying up in the shallows, making them ideal candidates for the keen spin and troll anglers.  Last year both browns and rainbows fed well on mudeyes before Christmas, and superb specimens from both species were taken. The wild rainbows were particularly noteworthy and reports of two 8 - 9lb fish filtered through post Christmas. It was also rumoured average weights were 3 - 5lb. It would be fair to say the average size of these rainbows will be even better this season!

Tooms fishes well early season and spin / troll anglers might select lures that have a splash of red or orange on them. Rainbows in particular find brighter colours appealing. Most popular lure styles for this water are Cobras and Ashley spinners. Use celtas in those many shallower, weedy margins where retrieval of a cobra is near impossible. The intense vibrating action of these lures can be sensed by both browns and rainbows in the nearly always, murky waters of Tooms. This water would have to be my first choice for opening weekend.

Craigebourne Dam
Although its one of the seven "off-trout season" fisheries, I feel this water is worth a look opening weekend, as it is well known Craigebourne fishes its best early. Craigebourne Dam is located only minutes north of the Colebrook township and receives low to moderate fishing pressure, probably due to its poor late spring / summer and autumn fishing reputation.  Craigebourne is normally kept quite low in terms of water level and as a result is affected by wind and heat which helps promote a blue / green algae problem in summer. However, early season water temperatures are lower and levels higher, which promote increased feeding activity in both the browns and rainbow trout that inhabit this system. Most shores are deep and spinning is a reasonably simple affair. Try a frog pattern in various lure styles. Bibbed lures can be used very effectively around the many drop offs, particularly in the dam area and nearby shores. Craigebourne has a reputation for fishing very well in the first 6 - 8 weeks of the season and is well worth a visit opening weekend.

Four Springs
This new water has really started to prove its worth during its first few angling seasons.  Northern anglers should treat this water in a similar way to Craigebourne as its low water level and summer algae potential are fairly similar. As an opening weekend water, Four Springs is definitely worth a look as both browns and rainbows should cruise the cooler shallows and drop offs in search of prey items. No doubt Four Springs will have higher water levels new season than it had towards the end of last season, which will result in new ground being flooded and trout feeding heavily on drowned worms and corby grubs. My suggestion here is to use a fly dropper in front of your lure, as at times your lure will attract the attention of feeding trout. The dropper will be taken in preference to the lure because of its smaller size and closer match to other food items. If Four Springs is slightly discoloured due to wind, wave or flooding water action, try an Ashley spinner in any of the brighter colours to elicit a response.

Pine Tier Lagoon
For an almost guaranteed fish (notice I said almost), give this small sheltered water a try as it contains an abundance of small and reasonably easy caught fish. Both browns and rainbows inhabit this water and range in size from .5kg and bigger.  
Pine Tier is suited to all facets of angling and spin fishermen will no doubt do well in its flooded margins and deeper shores during opening weekend. As with trout fishing in any water, look at the inflow and out flow areas for good results. Because trout sizes are smaller in this storage, change lure size to suit. Nearly all leading lure manufacturers offer old favourites in smaller sizes. Tillens 1 inch spinners would be dynamite in flooded shallows while 4 and 7grm cobras will target deeper feeding fish.
Pine Tier is sitting at about 670m above sea level and lodged amongst two mountain ranges.  It offers reasonably sheltered camping at a moderate highland altitude.  Well worth a look!

In recent weeks, nearly all rivers statewide have received huge amounts of winter rain and as a result have been flooding regularly (something we have missed out on in recent seasons).  This year will no doubt be the year that the river spin man has been looking for.  
The upper reaches of all major rivers will have hungry and highly active trout in them. Even smaller creeks, if not too torrid, will be worth fishing opening weekend. Rivers that flow into major storages will have bigger fish migrating up them for the first time in a while, and when the water levels reside, these fish can be held captive in even the smallest of pools. Best lures in these creeks and rivers, opening weekend, will be Rapala bibbed minnows, Celtas and small spoons. Best rivers include the South Esk, Tyenna, Huon, Derwent, Leven, Ingles, Styx, Macquarie and Break O'Day areas.

In General
Check your tackle, change your line, service your reels during final weeks and start to plan your opening weekend well. If need be, check regulations pertaining to your chosen water and seek landholder permission if required. Remember safety first and in particular wear a life-jacket. Although cliched remember, "a fish is not worth dying for', so do not take unnecessary risks in our frozen Central Highland areas.

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