|Tasmania, based club presents membership information, meeting dates, fishing reports, photo galleries and fish weight calculator.|
There are a number of things I like about fly-fishing, especially here in Tasmania. At the simple end of the scale these 'things' include our ability to easily access a range of fantastic and diverse fisheries, the healthiness of just being out there in the Tasmanian environment and the camaraderie that invariably emerges amongst fishermen. At the complex end of the scale are the more challenging elements of fishing - dealing with Tasmania's weather, dealing with the changing fishing conditions and dealing with new and emerging techniques.
As fishermen, we regularly try to address these challenges. We force ourselves to go out and fish in the cold and the wind. We make the best of Bronte when the water levels are up, or Great Lake, when the levels are down. We learn to fish despite the weed and then learn to fish when the weed disappears. We read and we seek advice from whoever wants to offer it - and of course there are plenty of offers.
Through all this, one of the particular options that I am learning to appreciate is the indulgence of the occasional day with a real expert. With a group of friends I recently spent a day on Arthurs with Peter Hayes and Neil Grose, both of whom I'll happily call an expert. The nature of the day was what they called a 'tips and techniques' day where, supposedly, they hand out their trade secrets. The cynics would argue that it is not in their interest to hand out too much information, but I finished the day confident that they hadn't held too much back.
The major theme of the day was the loch style technique. This is a mode of fishing that is certainly in-vogue and is one that highlights that there is still plenty of potential for innovation in what is regarded as a traditional pastime. The day started with a discussion of flies - a quick look at all the traditional dry-fly patterns that we all know well - tags, beetles, duns, spinners and emergers - before seeing that fly box quickly set aside. Three years ago, the discussion probably would have stayed on these patterns, but these days, instead of the peacock hurl and chenille bodies, the turkey and crow wings and the stiff and expensive hackles, then fly box we're asked to focus on is full of clumps of bizarrely coloured seal's fur.
The most prominent colour was orange - neat rows of carrots. Then there were purples, reds, clarets and gingers. Nothing that looked anything much like anything other than clumps of seal's fur. OK, on occasions there were suggestions of things like ribs, but looking more like Christmas decoration than an attempt to imitate parts of an insect. A few legs around as well, but if those things were grasshoppers, then I'm Arnold Schwarzeneger.
So the process has started off by telling us that we all have fly boxes full of flies that we are unlikely to want to use again and that instead we have to start thinking about filling them with colourful tufts of seal's fur.
Next step in this fishing caper was the question of what we attach the flies to. Tapered leaders - forget them. Carefully tied, scientifically measured leaders - don't bother. Thirteen feet of straight 4 pound monofilament will do the job. A couple of droppers of the same weight tied in nice and simply with a surgeons knot, and that's leaders out of the way.
After all that, it was time to head out and put some of the theory into practice. In any learning situation, a really common approach is to have the expert show you what to do, and then you copy. That was Peter's approach. So he picked up the rod, cast the flies and, on the second retrieve, pulled in the fish. Two things about that. Firstly - although none of us like a smart-arse, you can't help being impressed by somebody who makes something look so easy. Secondly - yes I did say 'on the second retrieve'. Now I don't know about too many of you, but all of my past training has had me making sure that my dry flies sat there on the water nice and stationary. But not for our team of Christmas decorations. The theory of loch style is that we're out there trying to imitate insects and insects don't just sit there - they move! And when they move they create little wakes on the water. So that's what we had to get our flies doing. OK, maybe they sit still on the water for a couple of seconds, but if there's no response to that, then the instruction was to get them on the move. Maybe a gentle twitching move, maybe a steady retrieve and, if all else fails, try a roly-poly. Yes, dry flies being retrieved at the same sort of pace that you might haul a clouser minnow when you're trying to stir up a barramundi.
And so what did all this deliver? Well, on this day it delivered fish. OK, it wasn't a boatload, but it was a day that I would call a definite success. Thirteen fish for the day, plus countless other boils, takes and drops. Eleven of the fish taken on dry flies, moving across the surface. The other two were taken on a nymph and a wet, again being fished in a manner that differed from how you would normally fish these patterns.
And what does all this tell you? The reason I started to write this wasn't to pretend to be the expert, but, as I said, to highlight the value of occasionally spending some time with real experts. I believe we are exceptionally lucky to have access to Tasmanian experts like Peter and Neil. I also believe that, while some might baulk at the cost, when you consider what these guys have gone through to become so good at what they do, when you consider the financial investment that they have put into their businesses, when you consider how willing they are to share, advise and explain, and when you consider that they also happen to be just good blokes, I reckon the money is worth it. So if you have a chance, give it a go - I'll certainly be back.
The "Central Highlands Challenge" 2001
The March long weekend at Bronte Lagoon saw the birth of what promises to be one of Tasmania's best fishing competitions for fly fishers. Named the "Central Highland Challenge" the competition was the brain child of two of The Hobart Flytyers Club members, Graham Blight and Paul "Rabbit" Burrows.
The competition was loosely modelled on the American and New Zealand one fly competitions where the anglers could choose only one fly during the competition. The "Central Highland Challenge" differed in that anglers could alter their choice of fly for each of the four sessions. Other changes were made to suit local conditions.
The event was contested by six teams of three anglers with all fishing shore based but boats being allowed to transport team members to chosen fishing locations around Bronte.
The first session on Saturday saw blustery conditions with a lot of anglers opting to fish wets, surprisingly the top fish was taken on a dry fly in no more than 200mm of water. The afternoon session proved difficult for most teams with few fish taken.
Sunday's morning session saw the majority of anglers opting for the road shore where a fall of Jassids was hoped for. Most had switched to beetle patterns but the fish were at their selective best with the Jassids failing to materialize in any great numbers. The afternoon session saw many anglers once again changing their selected fly but for those who persisted with a Jassid pattern the rewards were reaped.
The Clarence Anglers team sticking to Jassids managed to snatch the lead in this final session from the Kingborough Club team and take out both the top rod and team awards. Congratulations to them, they deserved it. The fishing wasn't easy, only five of the eighteen anglers caught fish. All would agree that it was indeed a challenge. For some the challenge was just being able to survive the evenings BBQ.
Next years "Central Highlands Challenge" is shaping up to be even bigger and better with a major sponsor pledging support enabling the event to offer anglers even more of a good thing. This year's event showed what can be done and I believe it can only go from strength to strength.