|Spring - October and November:|
The early months of the Tasmanian fishing season (August and September) are more reminiscent of winter than spring. While there is some reasonable surface activity on warm days and some good wet fly fishing, the fishing really starts to warm up in October which features consistent hatches of both midges (chironomids) and stoneflies. The stonefly hatch can be the first real dry fly action of the season and a good precursor for the mayfly hatch. Midges are a little less predictable, relying upon steady breezes and windlanes to collect them all up for both trout and angler.
October also sees some terrestrial beetle action if we get the required warm weather in order to stimulate them into flying out over the lake. October is a prime month for tailing trout. Tailers, as they are better known, feed in very shallow water primarily at dawn and dusk, but can also be found on untrodden shores right throughout the day. Tailers are generally hard to catch, but also immensely satisfying when you do finally land one.
November is essentially the same as October for the first two weeks, with increasingly warmer days and longer hours of daylight. As the days lengthen out so does the fishing activity increase, with many fish seeking out the shallow margins for their feeding activity.
As November progresses the mayflies begin to hatch. The mayflies can be difficult to find early on in the piece without local knowledge, but usually result in good fishing when they are found. Beetle falls become increasingly regular as the average daily temperature increases, widening the angling options available to fly fishers.
Windlane options also increase during November, when many trout seek out these ribbons of gold for a feed. Many pleasant afternoons are spent hunting along slicks and windlanes looking for consistently feeding trout.
Summer - December, January and February:
Summer is a much anticipated time for all Tasmanian fly fishing addicts. By the first week in December the mayfly hatch has usually started, the beetles are common enough on the water for variety in the trout's diet and the fish are really looking for an easy feed. On sunny days polaroiding can be awesome, especially for blue sky day mayfly hatches.
As December moves towards Christmas the fishing action really hots up, with the prime time being around the third week in December. The dun (mayfly) hatches are in full swing, with predictable hatches just about every day irrespective of the weather. Sunny northerly days with plenty of warmth and beetle activity can deliver some great deep water polaroiding action on both Great Lake and Arthurs Lake.
January is one of the most consistent months in the fishing season calendar, with all the insects of summer very active, along with warm settled weather. The dun hatches continue to be very consistent, as well as spinner falls and afternoon windlane fishing that is simply world class. Stalking the Western Lakes is fantastic at this time of year as well. The lowland rivers are also exceptionally good, with some excellent stream fishing to be had on the St Patrick's River, North Esk River and South Esk River.
February is the prime month for settled weather and blue sky days. February is traditionally the best month for the polaroiding and Western Lakes enthusiast, while Arthurs Lake and Great Lake are still at their peak. The rivers on the lowlands are very good indeed with grasshoppers and caddis keeping their noses looking up.
The mayfly hatches are still very consistent on Arthurs Lake, Little Pine Lagoon and Penstock Lagoon, with excellent windlane and shore based fishing as well. As February progresses the beetles usually make a resurgence, with the added bonus of jassids and ants. These terrestrial insects can deliver some awesome sight fishing in afternoon windlanes and slicks and the trout head to the surface for the feast.
Autumn - March and April:
March can be a sublime time to fish in Tasmania. The lowland streams are still at their peak and continue to fish very well right up to the end of the season in April - major floods permitting. In the highlands the mayflies start to wane on Arthurs Lake and Little Pine Lagoon, although the hatches at Penstock will continue till the first week in April. The terrestrial action normally continues while the warmer weather stays, with the ant activity on overcast and muggy days delivering prime surface feeding action.
As the season moves into April the brown trout begin to colour up in preparation for their annual spawning run. These fish are often quite aggressive, hitting both wet flies and active dry flies with gusto. As autumn rains make the river and creeks flow again the brown trout congregate at the mouths in readiness for spawning, making for some excellent wet fly fishing amongst the structure. As the brown trout season ends on the last Saturday in April most fishing activity ceases, although Great Lake can deliver some good fishing during May if the weather holds. For most the fishing ends at this time and the new season is eagerly anticipated once again.
Please call Neil and Nicole to discuss the best time of year for your next fly fishing adventure.
Due to the ever flexible nature of our guiding business, we are able to offer some very exciting guiding and accommodation packages. In addition to our staple guided fishing diet of boat based lake fishing, we can also offer and tailor the following fishing experiences to suit your available time and expectations.
The total experience package:
The total Tasmanian experience offers anglers the chance to target estuary salt water species such as big flathead and bream, highland trout and lowland river trout. This is ideally a five day experience, commencing with a flight into Hobart airport. From there we will take you to Ralph’s Bay to hunt some big flathead on fly or lure for a few hours, and then a change of location to battle with some big bream. That evening we will take you up into the highlands to Rainbow Lodge for three days of lake fishing. The fabulous Arthurs Lake provides the setting for the most consistent lake fishing in Tasmania, as well as a journey to the western lakes if conditions are suitable. Then off the mountain for a days river fishing on either the meadow streams or wading up the delightful St Patricks or North Esk with Christopher. After the evening rise you spend a night in a wonderful B&B or river side lodge and the next morning onto the plane at Launceston airport and home.
The Western Lakes and Rainbow Lodge package:
By combining the wilderness of the western lakes with the comfort of Rainbow Lodge you will experience the best that the Tasmanian highlands have to offer. Three days in the remote western lakes followed by three days at Rainbow Lodge fishing Arthurs lake in the boat means that the best the lakes has to offer with be at your beck and call.
The western lakes aspect will be based in tents and involves walking into some of the remoter western lakes to experience wilderness fishing at its best. These remote lakes offer some magnificent sight fishing, as well as the best scenery imaginable. This is also the best chance to locate and hopefully catch a double figure wild brown trout – one of the great angling benchmarks.
Being based at Rainbow Lodge for three days means that you will be pampered with Nicole’s renowned cooking and spend three days in the best sportfishing boats available chasing brown trout on Arthurs Lake. Arthurs has wonderful mayfly hatches, excellent wind lane fishing and great terrestrial falls. These elements combine to give Arthurs Lake the well earned reputation as one of the best wild brown trout lakes in the world.
The Tasmanian Sampler Package:
Sample a slice of Tasmania’s fly fishing – or why not just eat the whole cake!
To provide anglers with the complete Tasmanian fly fishing experience, Daniel Hackett of RiverFly Tasmania has teamed up with Neil Grose and his team at Rainbow Lodge to offer the Tasmanian Sampler Package. Widely recognised for their professionalism and experience, Daniel together with Neil and his team are able to offer tailored packages incorporating Tasmania’s unique fly fishing opportunities.
A Tasmanian Sampler Package can include raft fishing and wading on the picturesque lowland streams, hunting trout on the highland lakes in state of the art sportfishing boats or stalking the world famous wild brown trout of the isolated and challenging western lakes. Even sportfishing for bream in the coastal estuaries can be included. Each package is individually matched to the specified requirements of clients for the time of the season. Through this individual approach, the chances of a successful and enjoyable experience are maximised to the greatest possible extent.
The diversity of fly fishing that Tasmania has to offer is unique in the world. Time spent on the Tasmanian Sampler Package will enable you to experience this incredible diversity and match your skills against the wild browns of the lowland streams and highland lakes, perhaps even the trophy trout of the western lakes. Given time and opportunity an encounter with some brook trout may even be possible.
The Tasmanian Sampler Package is also suitable for beginners. The flexibility of this package allows for a program where Daniel together with Neil and his team can teach the basic fly fishing techniques before testing these skills on the rivers and lakes.
The diversity of this experience extends to the range of accommodation available and includes a choice of B&B, farm house, hotel or specialist fishing lodge – including Neil and Nicole’s renowned Rainbow Lodge. Extended overnight adventures into the western lakes can even introduce a camping component to the overall experience.
The team can provide all of your required equipment – including the best quality Sage rods, waders, all flies, leaders and other necessary consumables. All you have to bring is any tackle you want to use, some sunscreen, a wide brim hat and plenty of enthusiasm. The Tasmanian climate means that we often experience the vagaries of Mother Nature and of the wilderness in general, so come prepared with a range of suitable clothing to protect against the sun, wind and rain.
Rainbow Lodge Packages:
Two anglers with one guide for five days fishing and six nights accommodation at Rainbow Lodge:
$2650.00 per person.
Four anglers with two guides for five days fishing and six nights accommodation at Rainbow Lodge:
$2500.00 per person.
Western Lakes Package:
Three anglers with one guide, three days guiding based at Rainbow Lodge and then three days guiding and camping in the remote western lakes wilderness chasing trophy trout and stalking brown trout cruising in shallow water. Seven nights accommodation (five at Rainbow Lodge, two in tents in western lakes), six days guiding (three in boats on Arthurs Lake, three days stalking in western lakes on foot), all meals, tackle, equipment and necessary supplies:
- $2400.00 per person.
Our guiding business and reputation has been built upon the magnificent fishing (both from boat and shore) available at Arthurs Lake. Arthurs is a short 20 minute drive from Rainbow Lodge and has three main access points – Jonah Bay, Pump House Bay and The Dam Wall. We generally launch our boats at either the Dam Wall or at Jonah Bay depending upon the prevailing or forecast conditions and where we want to fish. We often fish in the Sand Lake side of Arthurs, fishing the Morass and bays along the eastern side of Brazendale Island and also on the eastern shore of the lake. The fishing varies as the season ebbs and flows, however Arthurs Lake provides the best and most reliable opportunity for good sight fishing and hunting.
Arthur's Lake over the season:
September sees us looking for fish in the shallows seeking out all manner of food. Later in September will often have some tailing trout in shallow and weed fringed shores, as well as the first of the stonefly hatches. Some windlane fishing is available if midges begin to hatch. Generally September is a good wet fly month, with drifting likely shores and deeper places yielding good rewards for persistent wet fly fishing. Deep nymphing also produces well over established scud and snail beds.
As the spring extends into October we start to see more stoneflies hatching as well as a few terrestrial beetles, such as gum beetles. It depends from season to season whether these great insects turn up, but we generally get a few. October really spells the start of the sight fishing with reliable tailing action of a morning and evening or during overcast and cloudy days. Polaroiding is also starting to become worthwhile on sunny days, especially over shallow weedy areas. The deep water polaroiding can also be very good if we get some insects up on top. Windlanes also start to become increasingly more reliable and standard loch style wet fly fishing gets to its spring best. Sink line wet fly fishing is also very productive – especially with Dirty Harry style flies.
One of the nicest months on Arthurs Lake – we see the start of reliable dry fly fishing where fish will rise up to searching dries. The tailing action is first class and by the middle of the month we expect to see the first of the mayflies, particularly in shallow water. Polaroiding and shallow water sight fishing is excellent as are the windlane opportunities when they present them selves. By the end of the month the mayflies should be almost a regular feature, however it does vary with the seasons. Deep water polaroiding is also reliable, especially for beetle and mayfly feeders. Nymphing is also a great standby, with some good and large fish falling to a slow fished brown nymph.
December heralds the real start to the mayfly season and summer. As a result this is one of our busiest periods. The weather can be unseasonably rough at this time of year; however this can stir up some terrific action if you can put up with 20 knots of wind up your kilt! Beetle falls on warm days are excellent, as are the spinner falls of an afternoon. Dun hatches can start as early as 10am, so it pays to be ready for a prompt start to the day. This month is an excellent sight fishing month, with winds from all directions providing the action. Easterlies can be the best, with sprinkles of beetles coming off the points and westerlies producing excellent deep water dry fly fishing. Tailing action does tend to taper off, however different water levels can mean this action might continue till after Christmas. Shallow water wade polaroiding is also excellent at this time. The period between Christmas and New Year sees plenty of locals out on the water, but there is plenty of room for everyone.
January is a wonderful month – part of the summer triumvirate. January has the best of spring, the best of summer and often the best of the fishing. The mayfly hatch is consistent during this month, especially on cloudy days with a little rain. Sunny days will see the duns hatching early, while spinner falls in the afternoon will keep you on your toes. Polaroiding is a staple technique, both in shallow water and out in the deeps. Beetles generally are a little thin on the water, but the general run of fish are just looking for a feed – making non descript dries the best option. Nymphs are a great option prior to the hatch, especially fished slowly around the weed beds and tree lines adjacent to our best mayfly bays.
February continues on where January left off, with mayfly hatches still coming off well and more beetles starting to show. Muggy days also see ant falls, which can produce some awesome fishing. The sight fishing continues to be the best option – polaroiding is terrific in the deeper water as well as the shallows if they haven’t warmed up too much. Dun hatches early of a morning on sunny days are sublime, and late afternoon rises to beetles are events to dream of. Towards the end of the month the fish begin to show signs of preparation for the spawning season as the female fish start to develop roe. The duns begin to hatch with a little less intensity and the days begin to shorten, however the fish soon start to look for beetles, small jassids, ants and other terrestrials.
March is a real change of season month. The mayflies usually become sparser in their hatches, although the fish usually eat as many as they can find. On days where there are no duns and no beetles the fishing can be challenging unless you are prepared to fish nymphs down deep, interspersed with some searching dry fly fishing. Big dries are often the answer at this time of year, particularly big stimulators, Madam X and Mutant Beetles. The second half of the month can be good as the beetles fall, and in some years this is when we can expect to see the jassids fall. Jassids lead to some awesome fishing as the trout just love to eat these little red devils. Wet fly fishing becomes very effective as the trout begin to get quite aggressive as they prepare for spawning.
April is the last month of the season, but is often one of the best. April is the best month for good wet fly fishing as well as good dry fly fishing if the beetles fall. It doesn’t take many beetles to get the trout up and looking during April – and the deep water polaroiding is particularly good – as is shallow water polaroiding for that matter. Towards the end of the month the fish start to congregate in certain areas of the lake, making for some very reliable wet fly fishing. This often means using intermediate lines or attaching sinking poly leaders to floating lines and using two or three bigger wet flies. Traditional loch style fishing also accounts for plenty of fish. The crowds of summer have usually left the lake, meaning a very pleasant and relaxed atmosphere while out searching for fish – Autumn is a lovely time indeed.
The Western Lakes
The western lakes are the jewel in the crown of Tasmanian still water sight fishing. These small and shallow lakes offer outstanding but challenging sight fishing throughout the fishing season. There are two components to the western lakes: the Nineteen Lagoons which can be accessed by vehicle; and the back lakes, which are a walk in and camp option.
The Nineteen Lagoons:
The Nineteen Lagoons are so called due to the fact that there are 19 lagoons that can be easily reached in a day trip from Great Lake. These lakes offer excellent sight fishing when conditions are right, with terrific early season tailing fishing and wonderful polaroiding on sunny days during spring, summer and autumn. Lakes such as Ada, Ada Lagoon, Howes Lagoon Bay, Lake Augusta, Botsford, Kay and Double Lagoon all offer consistent fishing throughout the season for good sized wild brown trout from a couple of pounds up to double figure fish in some cases. Most fish however range between 2 and 5 pounds.
The 19 lagoons main forte is the sight fishing. On cloudy and calm mornings the fish move into the extreme shallows to feed on small shrimp, scud, snails and stick caddis. This is very visual fishing, as these fish often show their whole back while wriggling in the shallow water. More often they will simply show as a swirl or dimple. This is real hands and knees fishing, as they are very spooky. However they can be approached at quite close quarters and fish under the rod tip are quite common. They can be hard though!
On sunny days the trout will often cruise across sandy flats and weed beds. By using the sun and wind to your advantage they can be spotted (sometimes easily) and a cast made in front of them. This can be the most spectacular of all sight fishing, as you see the fish react to the fly, swim over to it and ultimately eat it – that’s the plan, anyway! Polaroiding, as we call this, is possible on any sunny day (ideal conditions are a sunny day and a warm north easterly to westerly wind with no cloud at all), however it is best between October and April. Most of these cruising fish will take a dry with relish, although some days a nymph or stick caddis dropper is necessary.
The back lakes:
The remote lakes are accessed by foot and usually mean a three day trip to get the best from the experience. For quite fit anglers however day trips are possible. Many of these lakes have no names and are small tarns or tiny creeks between larger water courses. We have an intimate knowledge of these waters and often find fish in areas that many simply walk past. These fish can reach double figures, and if a ten pounder is the target, then it is out here that you stand the best chance of catching one.
This is very much a sight fishing experience, with all fish that are caught usually spotted beforehand. As this can be a wild place when the weather turns, we recommend heading out here in summer and autumn – Late December, January, February and March. For those anglers who have experienced flats fishing for bonefish – this is very similar – large fish cruising shallow sandy alpine lakes that require quick and accurate casting with smaller flies and light tippets. It can be extremely tough out here, some days close presentations are not close enough and the wind can be strong – this area is 1300 metres above sea level in the path of the roaring forties trade winds.
However, when the sun is bright and the sky cobalt blue the fishing can be amazing, simply amazing.
The Nineteen Lagoons and the back lakes need good quality 5, 6 and 7 weight rods. 5 weights are ideal for normal conditions; however a 7 weight can be handy if it does start to blow. Rod lengths between 8’ and 9’ are ideal. Floating lines are all that is needed and dry flies with nymph droppers are normal rigs. Early season tailers are often targeted with wet flies such as small woolly buggers and fur flies, especially for the frog feeders or aggressive last light tailers.
Accommodation for fishing the western lakes is based at Rainbow Lodge or Rainbow Cabin. Camp out trips for extended adventures can also be arranged – we have a wide range of equipment including tents, however we recommend that clients have an excellent sleeping back and rucksack or their own for this trip. A good level of fitness is also required, as many kilometres can be covered in a days fishing.
While Tasmania has an outstanding reputation for world-class lake fishing, we also have some excellent river fishing. River fishing in Tasmania ranges from gentle meadow streams with sipping browns and rainbows to bubbling streams and freestone rivers with large populations of exuberant wild brown trout, with the occasional rainbow in some streams.
There are two main options for river fishing – raft based drift fishing, or traditional upstream wading. The raft based fishing that we offer is conducted by Daniel Hackett of RiverFly Tasmania. Daniel is one of the most enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides working the rivers in Tasmania. With his purpose built raft he is able to access stretches of rivers inaccessible by anglers on foot. The raft also allows Daniel to place anglers in the right position every time to present dry flies and nymphs to feeding fish. The stream fish that Daniel chases range from half a pound up to three and four pounds. These fish are both wild browns and rainbows – magnificent fishing indeed, with most being brown trout.
There are also many smaller streams in Tasmania that lend themselves to a stealthy by-foot approach. Streams such as the North Esk, South Esk, St Patricks, Forrester (both Little and Great) and some lovely tributaries of these contribute to an excellent stream fishing menu. Christopher Bassano and Daniel have an intimate knowledge of these streams and are our recommended choice for guiding in the lowland streams.
Equipment for river based fishing revolves around 3, 4 and 5 weight rods, floating lines and dry flies with nymph droppers depending upon the day. Windy days might necessitate a 6 weight rod on the bigger rivers. Generally the weather is mild to warm during summer, however as always we recommend anglers be fully equipped with wet weather gear and warm clothing. Waders are recommended also, even for those seasoned to wet wading. Even in the height of summer some of our streams will still be only 15° or so – which can be quite chilly if the water approaches the nether regions!
Accommodation for river fishing can be arranged at a variety of bed and breakfast establishments, city hotels and resorts as well as a number of self contained locations in the area. Most of the rivers are within 45 minutes drive of Launceston, so we do recommend staying nearby.
Apart from the wonderful trout fishing, Tasmania has the best bream fishing in Australia. The Tasmanian southern black bream is an estuary species that is renowned for being both a hard fighter and being quite finicky. These fish are targeted with both soft plastic lures and flies, with soft plastics being the most effective. These fish are to be found throughout the entire calendar, with the warmer months being the most productive. October and November are perhaps the best months with many schools of bream congregating around snags and other structures in estuarine environments. There is also the chance of a big sea run trout at this time of year as well.
Bream on fly is a real challenge, with many anglers regarding this species as the next challenging frontier. Many bream are caught on flies in the spring and summer months, however as the weather gets colder in autumn and winter they do become harder to catch. The flip side of this is that the biggest bream are often caught in the colder months.
Depending upon which estuary is fished; anglers can expect to catch bream between 30cm and 45cm, with many in the 35cm to 40cm bracket. A 40cm bream is around 3 and half pounds – a very good fish indeed. Systems such as the Derwent River and Ansons River offer the best chance of bigger bream, while the Scamander, Swan and Georges Bay offer more fish but perhaps less in terms of size.
We can guide you onto some XOS sized bream using both fly and soft plastic lures. To get the best out of a bream trip we recommend that anglers use both, some days they just won’t take a fly – other days they will eat every fly they see.
Tackle for these trips revolve around fast action 5 and 6 weight rods up to 8 weights. A full range of lines will also be needed, from floating and intermediate to DI 7 type lines. A ultra fast sinking poly leader can also add some flexibility to presentations. Spin fishing tackle is based around softish tip 6’6” and 7” rods teamed up with 2500 series threadline reels with 6 to 8 pound Fireline and fluorocarbon leaders. The best flies are the Muz Wilson bream style flies. Best plastics are the 3” Bass Minnow, Squidgie Wrigglers, Mojo Grubs and Atomic Fat Grubs. We can supply all the necessary equipment to maximise the bream fishing opportunities.
Bream fishing can dovetail neatly into a Tasmanian fishing experience. We can pick you up in Hobart from the airport, go straight to the Derwent for some bream fishing, head up to the lakes for two or three days trout fishing in the highland lakes and then have a day on the river before boarding the last flight out of Launceston airport – where else could you get such a diverse experience.