There’s always something pretty special about visiting Tassie, whether it’s your first or fiftieth trip, and I reckon that’s because it’s such a unique place. It may only be an hour or so away by plane for most of us, or a few hours more by boat, but that doesn’t make it any less special.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel there many times over the years. I’ve done a few trips for my painting, for hiking and camping, even some to just do the tourist thing, but mostly when I head down there it’s to fish, and that usually involves chasing Tassie’s legendary wild Brown Trout.
Tassie’s world-class trout fishing revolves around the successful introduction of Brown Trout from England, way back in 1864. Since then, anglers from all over the world have travelled there to experience the unique trout fishing on offer.
Planning a fishing trip to Tasmania is pretty simple and doesn’t need all the logistical planning that goes into a trip to the other side of the world. After all, it’s the same country, same language and same trout that you’re likely to be catching closer to home.
If you’re travelling with a partner or kids there’s no need to stress about what to pack other than to remember it can get pretty cold down there at times, I’ve been fishing in snow during December and January on previous trips and wearing shorts at other times. My best suggestion is to pack lightweight layered, quick-dry clothing, make sure you have good outdoor footwear (there’s lots of great walks) and pack a waterproof, wind-stopper type jacket.
The amount of fishing gear you take is usually determined by how many of you are travelling and the method of transport you’re taking. If you’re flying then weight restrictions will apply and make ‘sensible’ packing more of an issue. If that’s the case, and you’re not exclusively fishing, you may be restricted to one pack rod and reel per adult plus a few basic lures etc. You don’t have to take waders, you can fish from the bank without getting your feet wet, but at the very least make sure the footwear you take is up to getting a bit muddy! If you’re taking a car, towing a boat or caravan over on the ferry, then weight and space isn’t such an issue, and packing clothes and tackle becomes a little easier and allows you to take more specialist tackle.
Brown Trout occur across the whole of Tassie; there aren’t many rivers, lakes or even farm ponds for that matter that don’t have trout swimming about in them, and that includes sea-run Brown Trout in a few of the rivers on the west, east and south coast. Most of the faster flowing streams contain brown trout, usually less than 0.5 kg in weight, while the slower meadow streams tend to carry a higher proportion of bigger browns, often between 1-1.5 kilograms. The lakes, especially the Central Highlands waters, which Tasmanian trout fishing is famous for, contain plenty of bigger fish that average 1.5–2 kilograms.
Getting Amongst Them
While baitfishing is worthwhile in many areas, most anglers prefer casting lures or flies from the banks or trolling out of kayaks and boats.While baitfishing is allowed and popular in many rivers and lakes, there are a large number of waters where lure and fly fishing only are permitted. These restrictions allow Tasmanian Fisheries to ‘manage’ the top waters so that sportfishers have the best chance of getting quality fishing. Lots of anglers who fish for trout actively practise catch and release, and fishing with flies or lures generally allows trout to be hooked in the mouth and released unharmed back to the water. That’s not often the case with baittfishing, where the fish normally swallows the bait and may die if returned to the water. This being said, if you want to baitfish, go for it! There are enough fish to be had down there that keeping one or two for the table isn’t creating a problem. And if you get the chance, try and catch and cook a Woods Lake brownie, they are beautiful eating!
Tassie’s cooler climate and cold waters, are perfect for the trout to feed close to shore and near the surface in most of the lakes, and this means that just as many fish can be caught from the bank as from a boat. Most of the trips I take down to Tassie are for landbased fishing; I occasionally take a kayak over, or a boat. But they aren’t essential for getting into some good fishing. Far from it in fact!
Before heading down there for the first time and making plans on where to stay and fish, it’s worth reading up on any restrictions and regulations that may apply for where you’d like to fish. Up to date regulations can be read in the Tasmanian Inland Fisheries Service booklet or viewed online. You can also buy your fishing licence online from the IFS site before heading off.
It’s a pretty general statement, but for the most part, the fishing is easier leading up to the Christmas holidays. Early in the season, before Christmas, the waters are often still up a bit and the trout are less cautious and more hungry after their winter spawning. As the water levels drop and the air temperatures rise, the fish can become slightly harder to catch. But don’t worry about that too much; go when you can during the trout season, the fishing is rarely that tough where you can’t catch a few fish.
In Part Two of this article we’ll take a look at a few basic fishing setups to get amongst Tassie’s Brown Trout and see if we can cut it back to the bare essentials of what’s necessary to catch a trout or two on your trip.
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