Introducing Tasmania’s trout
Tasmania trout fishery is focussed primarily on wild brown trout. Our brown trout can all trace their origins back to the original fish hatched in 1864 from eggs shipped from Scotland. Even where fisheries are stocked with brown trout, these are fish that have been bred in the wilds and harvested during wild spawning runs before being relocated to locations that do not offer spawning conditions.
Some waters also offer rainbow trout, many of which have bred in the wild but some of which are also bred in captivity and released into our fisheries. These farm bred fish are triploids that are incapable to reproduction.
In addition to brown and rainbow trout there is a very small population of brook trout in a small number of wild settings.
Introducing Tasmania’s fIsheries
The Tasmanian trout fishery comprises a great mix of river and lake fishing.
Most rivers in the state present trout fishing opportunities, from small twig waters, meadow streams to stirring boulder waters.
And Tasmania’s lake similarly offer a great trout fishing experience. Lakes in Tasmania are integral to Tasmania’s hydro electric system of power generation and through great cooperation between Hydro Tasmania and Tasmania’s Inland Fisheries Service, our lakes provide great habitat for trout.
To get a better idea of the breadth of the fishery we recommend you visit Discover Tasmania where Tasmania’s major trout fishing regions are described.
While every good fly fisherman knows that you can never know exactly what is going to happen and when, it is always useful to think about seasonal influences on the fishery, and on the food that trout might be eating and therefore the flies that might be more effective.
When thinking about seasons and Tasmanian trout fishing, there are actually three significant perspectives:
- The Trout breeding cycle: Many of our waters are closed when trout are expected to be spawning. For brown trout, the “spawning season” is generally May / June / July. For rainbow trout it is a month later – June / July / August. Although a small number of waters remain open, and most private fisheries operate year round, these seasonal closures do limit your options.
- The weather: Although Tasmania’s weather is notoriously fickle, it still offers four distinct seasons.
- Winter is generally only for the brave. Water levels get high and fish are harder to find.
- Spring sees fish returning to their familiar waters, but generally staying in the lower water columns as they recover from their spawning. Their energy and enthusiasm increases, though, as spring warms things up.
- By the time summer arrives their enthusiasm is up and they are generally looking up rather than down for their food. As summer progresses, however, water temperatures start to be an important consideration as water levels fall and the warm days are at their longest.
- As Tasmania moves out of summer and into autumn the temperatures start to fall again and those fish that may have been slowed by warm water temperatures find their energy levels increasing again.
- The Food: Although Tasmania’s waters generally are great food sources, understanding how those food sources change over the course of the year is also important.
- Early in the fishing season, food tends to be dominated by sub-aquatic organisms – larvae / nymphs / scuds and beetles are the target of fish as they sit deeper in the water column, while tadpoles, frogs and fry are also critical elements of the early season diet of Tasmania’s trout. And imitation of these insects – our wet fly patterns and nymphs are critical.
- As the season progresses, however, some of those sub-aquatic organisms enter the next phase of their lives, when they move towards to the surface to start their metamorphosis into flying insects. Mayflies, damsel flies, stone flies and dragon flies all become prominent in the late spring, summer and even into the early autumn season. The fly patterns accordingly transition to dry flies like emerger patterns, dun patterns, spinner patterns and damsel fly patterns. Early morning midge hatches and evening caddis hatches can also be expected.
- The third significant phase of the food cycle is when terrestrial insects become prominent. Gum beetles and other leaf cutter insects will often accompany warm and windy weather, while hoppers will start to appear late in the season as paddocks dry and the naturals get blown onto the water.
All who fish in Tasmania’s inland waters need to be aware of the regulations that apply to our fishery. These regulations are an important part of keeping our fishery viable.
Licences: Unless you are fishing at a private fishery or are under the age of 15 you need to obtain a fishing licence to fish for trout. These can be obtained at local tackle stores or online at https://www.ifs.tas.gov.au/the-rules/angling-licence
Seasonal Closures: One of the critical elements of our fishery is the manner in which fishing seasons are controlled to help support spawning activities. Although some fisheries are open all year round, there are two principal seasons:
- Brown Trout Fisheries are usually closed from midnight on the last Sunday in April and reopen at Midnight on the first Friday in August.
- Rainbow Trout Fisheries are usually closed from midnight on the last Sunday in May and reopen at Midnight on the first Friday in September
Detailed Regulations on individual waters: To find out about any specific water in the Tasmanian fishery you need to make sure you also obtain a copy of the Tasmanian Inland Fishing Code when you buy your fishing licence. This will enable you to confirm dates, bag limits, fishing methods etc that can vary from one water to the next.