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This past January my wife and I traveled to the island of Tasmania due south of Melbourne where we greatly enjoyed this Australian state’s wonderful scenery, excellent fly fishing for brown and rainbow trout (most of it on dries) and the warm and friendly people and lodges that rival anything anywhere in the world. Our trip was booked through Gayle and Michael Hawker of Tasmania Reservations (*).
We began our trip with an overnight stay in Hobart, Tasmania’s capital. The next day, as prearranged, our hired driver took us to the lovely little village of Bothwell in the central highlands where we met Andrew and Jane Campbell, our hosts at Echo Lake Lodge, a working cattle and sheep ranch set on about 10,000 acres of land. Jane made us feel right at home and took us on a tour of the surrounding area, showing us wombats, Tasmanian devils, wallabies and a host of other animals found nowhere else. Afterwards, I walked down to Echo Lake to wade and fly cast. In spite of high winds, I promptly got into some nice browns.
The following day, Andrew arranged for one of his neighbors to trailer his boat over to Arthur’s Lake, a 16,000 acre man made reservoir offering a great opportunity to fly fish for brown trout in very clear water. The fish were quite large and plentiful. We ended up with 11 nice browns ranging up to 6 1/2 pounds. We caught most of them by wet fly fishing with a #12 brown nymph. I released all my fish although the locals keep what they catch.
The next day we loaded our gear into Campbell’s Range Rover for a one hour drive into the Derwent Valley. Our destination was London Lakes Fly Fishers Lodge (*), owned and operated by Jason and Barbara Garrett (*). The lodge is set on 5,000 private acres, on which among other things are some wonderful ponds holding very large brown trout. I found the ponds to be easily wadeable out to a point that eliminated any problems with my back cast. Most of the fishing here is with dry flies, although I feel the locals place too much emphasis on dries. Most guides recommend simply casting out a dry and letting it sit until a fish hits. This method does work but I soon turned to a Letort hopper which I fished just below the surface. This worked so well that head guide Laurie Matthews wanted to keep a few of my hoppers so he could copy them.
The following day I had a chance to fish with London Lakes Lodge owner Jason Garrett, which turned out to be a real treat. He enjoyed casting my eight foot bamboo rod using 6 weight line. In turn, I got a charge out of rig he tied up for me. It consisted of a large (size six) dry fly with a dropper attached about one foot below. The dropper fly was a small red beetle fly. I used it to hook and land about a four pound brown.
After our two days at London Lakes, again as prearranged, our driver picked us up and took us back to Hobart for dinner and an overnight stay. Our entire trip for two persons, including our fishing, all hotels, transfers and almost all meals, cost only $2,900 through Tasmania Reservations. If you’d like more details on the trip, ask the Hawkers for the "Guide To Tasmania Fishing."
One question I’ve been asked about Tasmania is whether one can arrange his own itinerary here. I would have to say that Tasmania is indeed an area that one can visit on his own. Rental cars are readily available here and the road system is excellent, though it’s important to remember that Tasmanians do drive on the opposite side of the road from US drivers. And speaking of opposites, the seasons are reversed here, which means the best fishing is from October to March. Trout fishing is closed from June 1 to July 31 in order to allow the fish time to spawn.
A good contact, if you want to handle your own trip, is the couple, Ken and Marea Orr (*). They have a cabin for rent on Brady’s Lake, which is a 2 1/2 hour drive into the highlands area from Hobart. Bronte Lagoon, Pine Tier Lagoon, Dee Lagoon, Lake Echo, Lake Binney and Tungatinah Lake are all nearby. The cabin has four bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a spacious dining and lounge area. The Orrs offer guide services but they gladly accommodate do it yourselfers. As for food and drink you’ll need at the cabin, I suggest you shop for that in the Hobart area, as costs are high once you get into the highlands area.
Another good contact is Jim Allen (*) at Mayfly Travel (*) in Melbourne. Allen owns the Compleat Angler (*), a lodge near Great Lake at Haddens Bay. Though it’s currently up for sale, the lodge will most likely be open during the October to March peak season. Allen can give you information on angling and accommodations near Little Pine Lagoon, which is a fly fishing only lake that’s known for its wild brown trout. The fish here average from 1 1/2 pounds to three pounds.
You can get into some good fishing at Little Pine Lagoon by parking right by the Little Pine Dam. There is a deep corner in front of the dam that provides good shelter when the wind is from the south or west. Midges and caddis seem to lie in the slick against the dam. If conditions are not right for good fishing at the dam, walk past the first rocky point and you will find shallow water all the way around to the river mouth. If the water is high, you’ll find trout stacked up in the deep channels formed by the creeks that enter here. A bit further along you’ll come to a nice grassy area which is ideal for spotting fish on a sunny day. This area is easy to fish, but move slowly so you don’t spook them.
Penstock Lagoon is another fly fishing only lake. The season here is from August 1 to April 30, although some parts of the lake near the canals are closed to all fishing, so watch and obey the posted signs. There is public access to this lake from various points along Waddamana Road. There is a track that leads south off Waddamana near Grassy Corner, a good spot for wet fly fishing with the Mrs. Simpson fly frog imitation. There is a nice piece of shoreline to fish here and you will not run into many, if any, other anglers.
Finally, if you do go to Tasmania either on your own or through an agent, don’t fail to book at least two nights with Jason and Barbara Garrett at London Lakes Lodge. During the peak season from October 1995 to March 1996, their daily rate is about $440 (US) per angler, which includes meals, tackle and guide services. Non guided anglers pay $215 (US) per day; non fishing companions pay $170 (US) per day. Don Kimel.
(Don Causey Note: We’d be remiss not to point out that various US agents, other than the one Kimel mentions, book fishing trips to Tasmania. They include Mike McClelland of The Best of Tasmania Fly Fishing (*); and Frontiers (*).)