Tassie's top fly fishing spots
Read on for your ultimate mini-guide to the very best places to fly fish in Tasmania. Don't take my word for it - this has been compiled by one of Tasmania's top fishing guides, Roger Butler of Red Tag Tours (pictured above with Maree and her very first fish) who has fished Tasmania's rivers, lakes and streams for over forty years.
South Esk River, North East Tasmania
The South Esk is the longest river in Tasmania, starting in the mountains near Fingal and dammed near Launceston where some of the waters flow into the Cataract Gorge. The catchment area of the South Esk System has great trout fly fishing along its length, and it was one of the rivers chosen for the 2012 Commonwealth championships.
Penstock Lagoon, Central Highlands
This fly-only lagoon a short drive north of the historic town of Waddamana has long been a popular water for decades and is on the must visit list of many interstate anglers. The fish here grow fast and strong and provide great sport for dry and wet fly fishing. The fish are stocked as fry from wild strain stocks and are triploided to produce fast growing, fit specimens.
Little Pine Lagoon, Central Highlands
A small dam on the Little Pine River has created arguably Australia’s best known fly fishing water. From wily tailing fish to voracious dun feeders, this water offers something for the fly fisher all season, whether from a boat or the shore.
Great Lake, Central Highlands
The sheer size of Great Lake - Australia's second largeset freshwater lake after Lake Pedder in Southern Tasmania - means that there are always a variety of possibilities for the fly fisher. The lake, at an altitude of 1030 m above sea level, has a huge population of brown and rainbow trout and offers year round fishing. The shores of the lake offer good wet fly fishing and beetle falls provide dry fly fishing particularly in open water. The open water polaroiding of trout cruising wind lanes is as good as you will find anywhere in the world..
Arthurs Lake, Central Highlands
This lake, created by Hydro Tasmania in the 1920s and east of Great Lake, offers nearly everything a fly fisher could want. Whilst the trout don’t tend to be large, every season Arthurs offer up a trophy brown trout of ten pound or more. The catch rate at Arthurs can be outstanding and when it is firing it is not unusual to catch twenty or more for the day. Dry fly fishing the hatches, nymphing wind lanes or wet fly fishing the galaxias feeders, the action at Arthurs can be red hot.
Brumby's Creek, Cressy, North East Tasmania
Brumby's Creek in Cressy, a small rural town about 20 miles from Launceston, is a tailrace trout fishery that is fed by cool clear mountain water through the summer months. This water delivers mayfly action on the lowlands throughout spring, summer and autumn.
Western lakes (Land of 3000 Lakes)
This is Tasmania’s true wilderness fishery with literally thousands of lakes, lagoons and tarns covering the central plateau west of the Nineteen Lagoons area. This area - some 40 km by 20 km - can only be accessed by foot or the couple of four wheel drive tracks that are still open. Tailing and cruising brown trout are what anglers come to this area for - and depending on the water it could be a trophy sized fish that you cast your fly to. A new wilderness huts camp has een opened here by RiverFly Tasmania.
Huon River System, Southern Tasmania
The Huon River Catchment - further south than the Derwent, can be a challenging area to access but well worth the effort. The Huon River Catchment holds the record for the largest brown trout caught in Tasmania. The summer and autumn months provide good clear water fishing, with some good dry fly areas.
Macquarie River, The Midlands
Widely known through the writing of David Scholes (a well-known fly angler and writer during the mid to late 1900s) and an iconic lowland river, the Macquarie is most famous for its prolific hatches of the red spinner mayfly. This slow moving river offers the best drift boat fishing in Tasmania in its lower reaches, with excellent bank and stalking options in the middle and upper sections. Wild brown trout are the feature but the odd escapee rainbow trout can liven up the fishing at times.
Nineteen Lagoons, Central Highlands
The collection of waters west of Great Lake accessed by the road into Lake Augusta are a truly wilderness experience without the need for hours of walking. Whilst not all these waters are regulated as fly fishing only, most are best for this method. Flooded lagoon and backwater fishing for tailing brown trout is an early season feature and in the height of summer polaroiding the shallow lagoons is an exciting and rewarding prospect.
Lake Burbury, Western Tasmania
This man made lake close to the wild west coast of Tasmania is open all year round and has both wild rainbow and brown trout populations. Early morning fishing, particularly during spring months, for midge feeders is the feature here. Rainbow trout can often be found cruising wind lanes and offer exciting fishing from a boat. There is also plenty of dead timber for targeting mudeye feeders.
Mersey River, North West Tasmania
The river has its head waters in the World Heritage Area of Tasmania's Central Plateau and has a good mix of riffled reaches and slower runs through farming districts. In the upper sections it has a good population of rainbow trout, something of a rarity in Tasmanian rivers. With its clear waters trout can be polaroided but fish will often rise to a well placed dry fly. In the lower reaches some solid brown trout can be found.
Bronte Lagoon, Central Highlands
For a small water this lagoon - which is Tasmania's most centrally situated water between Tarraleah and Derwent Bridge - has a variety of fly fishing options. Tailing fish are a feature during spring months with frog feeders providing some exciting fishing amongst the tussocks. Rising fish can be found on occasion and cruising fish near inflows provide very good dry fly fishing. Brown, brook and rainbow trout are all found here.
On the Eastern side of the plateau below Arthurs Lake, Woods has become an excellent wild brown trout fishery from early season. Often a sheltered water from the north-westerly winds it offers good boat access and subsequent shore stalking wading across the season. Dry and / or wet fly fishing can be very productive.