It’s Summer time and the fishing is easy

Marty Wells
The difficulty (or easiness) of a fishery is relative and changing, a waterway may yield good results one day but for reasons unknown, completely shut down the next. There are however, a number of waters that consistently give up their fishy inhabitants more readily. One thing these waters have in common is a huge population of trout. Most trout fishers are aware of the fact that the bigger the fish population in any given water, the smaller the individual fish size. This is due to the finite amount of trout tucker available in any given waterway. Unfortunately, unless larger fish have been stocked into a lake these easier waters usually hold fish averaging closer to one pound than two. Having said that, big fish can turn up anywhere at any time. 

Lake King William

Lake King William is a large hydro impoundment that is mainly fed by the Derwent River from Lake St Clair. When the lake was created, the retaining Clark Dam at Butlers Gorge was the highest in the southern hemisphere. Lake King William has the highest estimated catch rate per day of any of the central highland lakes. Inland Fisheries have estimated about four fish per angler, per day is average. If you compare this to Arthurs Lake at slightly over one fish per angler day you can gain an appreciation of the fishing possible on this extremely scenic lake. Lake King William has the added bonus of being open to fishing year round. The lake is well serviced by three boat ramps, two at the northern end and another at the southern end adjacent to the dam wall. Aside from weather, which in this part of the world cannot be relied on to do anything but change, the water level in the lake is the biggest factor affecting fishing quality. The lake is managed by the hydro and the outflowing water is diverted from the Derwent River into canals where it is fed through downstream power stations before rejoining the Derwent further down the valley. The lake is allowed to fill in late winter and spring, generally being at its maximum level for the year in early summer. However, at the time of writing, due to the exceptionally wet winter we’ve had the lake was spilling. At this level the water is inundating shallow bays that have revegetated over the past year or so. This flooding washes all manner of invertebrate life into the lake and onto the hungry trout’s menu. The best access point to enjoy this fast and frantic fishing is at the northern end of the lake about five kilometres past Derwent Bridge. If you are an early bird these bays are reliable places to find tailing fish at dawn. If you prefer a more leisurely start to the day, careful wade polaroiding in the deeper water will reveal numerous fish cruising around on the lookout for an easy feed. Nondescript dry flies such as Red Tags will prove the undoing of most fish even when they don’t appear to be taking food off the surface. If you don’t get a positive response from the floating fly, try hanging a small brown nymph off the bend of the hook on a short dropper. Trolling and drift spinning are also deadly methods in Lake King William. Tassie Devil lures are all that’s needed to tangle with some of the lake’s feisty browns. Mixtures of green/gold/red seem to do the trick. The recognized hot spot is in an area known as Guelph Basin. The basin has countless rivers and creeks draining in to it along with stands of dead trees. These elements combine to create the perfect environment for hunting trout from a boat. The easiest access to the Guelph Basin is from the Clark Dam end of the lake via the Butler’s Gorge Road. The Basin can be accessed on foot from Harbachs Road which leaves the Lyell Highway just past the Navarre River bridge. This road also provides a number of access points along the western shore of the lake, none are sign posted but exploration will yield rewards. Warmer days from late spring onwards will see trout feeding happily from the surface, sometimes in very close. As in other lakes windlanes will concentrate the food into particular areas and a boat is a real advantage, but, in past seasons I have enjoyed good sport polaroiding from the higher rocky banks that are prevalent around the south eastern shoreline.  

The Pump Pond

This regarded as one of the ‘easier’ waters in the highland region. The ‘Pond’ is a kilometre or so West of Tarraleah and is surrounded by tall forest. It remains sheltered in all but the very worst of winds. It is small enough to walk around in about an hour without fishing. Undoubtedly there are more catchable trout in the ‘pond’ than many of the big name waters nearby but the notoriously fickle brown trout are just as wily. The largest fish I have personally seen from the Pump Pond was about three pounds but I suspect there is some behemoths residing in the depths of the old river course. These fish would be best targeted with soft plastics fished deep off the dam wall. Traditionally fish taken from this dam have averaged 0.3-0.7 kgs, however the development of nearby Tarraleah as a tourist village led to the stocking of this water with a number of Arthurs Lake trout a few years ago. At the time of release these additional fish weighed between 1-3 kgs, add to this a small number of 4 kg+ monsters rescued from the adjacent canals when they are drawn down for maintenance and you have the makings of an interesting fishery. This small, heavily populated water lays a short walk from the Lyell Highway three kilometres to the Hobart side of Tarraleah. The shore is mostly made up of marshy shallows with the odd deeper shore, particularly on the eastern side of the dam. The pond has a swift inflowing river about halfway around from the dam wall. This river is difficult to cross, meaning the angler make the choice of fishing either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the dam. For the right-handed caster fishing clockwise results in less arboreal action as the cast is made over the water. Fish rise consistently during warm, settled weather and tail all season long. Tailing is the description given to fish feeding in the extreme shallows, as a consequence of this feeding the foraging trout periodically expose their dorsal and tail fins, waving them in the air like miniature golden flags. Most, if not all, of the best fishing occurs from the shore. Rising fish take up station where the predominantly westerly wind blows terrestrial insects onto the water’s surface; however it pays to assess the prevailing wind direction when deciding which shore to commence fishing. Just about any size 14-18 dry fly will bring success, as always presentation is the key. Cast close to tailing fish or rising fish these flies often elicit a positive response. It is vital that the fish sees or ‘feels’ your fly land on the water. The canals nearby also give up their share of trout though are not nearly as attractive to fish as the Pump Pond. If you do fish the canals be extremely cautious around the edges, if you fell in it would be very difficult to get out. In the past people have drowned from this scenario.  

Pine Tier Lagoon

Situated a short drive north of Bronte Park Pine Tier Lagoon is a headwater lake. This means, unlike lakes further down the system, the water level is usually relative to the amount of rainfall in the catchment area. The popular lake is well sign posted, with convenient 2wd access points from the dam wall, along the eastern shore up to the northern end. Pine Tier gives up good numbers of brown trout throughout the season to all methods of angling. The shallower northern end of the lake is preferred for the fly fishing, especially early in the season when fish can be found in close gorging on food washed into the lake by the spring rains. Almost every fish I have caught in this area at this time of year have been absolutely bulging with earthworms. This evidence highlights the opportunities available to the astute bait fisherman, particularly when lake levels are rising. As the weather warms beetle falls provide exciting dry fly action and give the novice fly angler a good chance of snaring a fighting, wild trout. The key is to fish on shores that have the wind blowing along rather than onto them. This wind direction blows food along in a conveyor manner allowing the fish to hold station and wait for the food to come to them instead of constantly chasing individual beetles. Trolling is more popular in the deeper southern basin around the dam wall. Tassie Devils, Rapalas and other hard bodied lures all catch fish while working a soft plastic around the shoreline structure will usually result in some action. While the average size of fish can be a little disappointing there is a real chance of hooking something big. As mentioned earlier double figure fish have come to trollers in the vicinity of the dam wall in previous years. With all the extra food entering the lake this year the chance of hooking that fish of a lifetime has to be increased.

While a ‘donut’ is possible anywhere, anytime, fishing these highly populated lakes ensures you have a good chance of catching one of Tasmania’s renown trout. I hope the information above encourages you to give trout fishing a go and helps you to be successful, especially, if in the past you have been put off fishing the ‘sweetwater’ by the prospect of returning home empty handed.

Marty Wells

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