Tailing is a term that many devoted salt flats fishermen will certainly understand. Brown
trout in Tasmania just like bone fish in the Florida Keys feed in very shallow or 'skinny
water'. The behavior is associated with disturbed or 'nervous water' which is the visual
clue to the fishes presence. Fishing for large tailing brown trout is EXTREME fly-fishing!
Little Pine Lagoon is well recognized as one of the premiere lakes in Tasmania to find
tailing fish. The fish are always most active early and late in the day when the sun is low,
but overcast days will allow the angler to search for 'tails' most of the day. There are
ome lakes in Tasmania where the angler can stalk tailing fish all season long, however
the behavior is most obvious in spring (September to November).
What clients find really exciting is combining polaroiding with tailing fish, but you need
steady nerves and accurate short casts. Imagine wading down a grassy flat mid morning,
sun at your back, clear sky, and seeing large brown trout clearly visible and actively
feeding in less than 12 inches of water. If the angler is fortunate enough to hook a
tailing trout, he will soon discover how these strong fish can unload a full fly line in
a single run.
The ecology of the Tasmanian lakes, there abundant trout, and their shallow nature
make them perfect boat fisheries. The variety and potential of boat fishing in Tasmania
is enormous, with the boat being primarily used as a platform for polaroiding, a taxi to
reach distant shores, or as a vehicle to chase surface feeding fish. Guides use boats to
access areas of minimal fishing pressure and it provides a means to quickly move from
one productive area to another.
'Loch style fishing' is one of the more popular and is definitely the most productive
and consistent method of catching trout in Tasmania. The technique takes place from
a broadside drifting boat and involves the retrieval of a team of flies through the surface
of the water in attempt to induce a take from a nearby trout. This type of fishing was
born in Scotland and Ireland where it was practiced on the larger lochs for wild brown
trout and sea trout. Originally the style consisted of repeated short casts (6 to 10m)
downwind from a drifting boat. Each cast the angler would sweep the rod back and
up into the air as a team of flies were drawn, skated, and then "dibbled" back to the
boat. The technique was essentially rhythmic and unhurried, and was very effective
on trout feeding in or near the surface.
Probably the most challenging but definitely the most rewarding boat fly-fishing is
associated with 'wind lanes'. Wind lanes are defined pathways on lakes where food
collects, often characterized by a smooth ribbon of water running down an otherwise
rippled surface. They are similar to the seams or bubble lines in a stream, where food
is channeled by the combination of currents and wind. The best lanes normally contain
the most food and consequently the most feeding trout. Trout in lanes feed with reckless
abandon, and when a good lane is found there will often be dozens of snouts punching
through the surface film. The hungry rainbow trout often feed in schools, like playful
dolphins they glide in and out of the water. Tails, fins and dark wide backs are visible
as the trout rise at regular intervals. These rainbows feed quickly and present very
demanding and challenging targets. There is no greater thrill than hooking a large rainbow
in deep water! But you must be good in the casting department. This is one form of fishing
where picking up and casting a long line is of paramount importance. Reading the speed
of fish is an acquired skill that must be matched by an accurate cast. Wind lane fishing is
highly dependant on overnight midge hatches, and since midges hatch all year round, drifting
down a lane early morning is always a possibility!
Tasmania has a vast wilderness fishery collectively described as the 'Western lakes.' The
region offers anglers the best opportunity to stalk and land wild trophy size browns in shallow
lakes that are rarely fished. This backcountry wilderness fishery contains over three thousand
lakes and tarns amidst spectacular National Park and World Heritage land. Anglers are rare
in this fishing adventure wonderland! Most lakes are accessible by foot only, all are very
shallow, clear, and populated by brown trout, that range from two to ten pounds and bigger!
The feature fishing of the area is the polaroiding on clear sunny summer days. The fish are
easy to see in these shallow clear waters, at times fish are visible as far away as fifty meters.
Fish often cruise the edges, so the angler must move slowly, stay low and stalk his fish.
Fishing is difficult and the angler must be good at short, delicate, quick casts. But he must
be equally good at quickly punching out a long line when the situation arises, and be 'well
versed' at spotting fish. A final word of warning is not to venture too far into this wild area
without being accompanied by an experienced person or guide. The weather changes very
quickly, and loosing your bearings in the open flat terrain can become a high possibility.
If You Want To Go
The best time to plan the trip is October to March. Quanta's Airways provides excellent
service with flights connect from either Sydney or Melbourne. Tasmania's best fisheries
are located in the Central Highlands. This region encompasses central Tasmania and the
small country town of Miena situated on the shores of the Great Lake is the most central
location for the angler. The Central Highlands Lodge in Miena is the finest fishing lodge in
the area, and a number of guides provide services to the lodge, myself included.
A good source on the web for further information about Tasmanian fly-fishing is the
Fishing Tasmania web site. And
one of the best books for some pre – trip reading is Greg French's 1994 book
Tasmanian Trout Waters. The book contains maps and information
on all inland lakes, rivers, and lagoons. Tasmania is a special place. It's relative isolation,
friendly people, disease free status, and cunning wild fish must be experienced. Make it
your next fishing destination and join me on one of the shallow lake flats!
~ Chris Hill