I just finished four weeks touring around Tasmania and I've got to say I was impressed. Like most Americans I suspect, before I went to Tasmania I really had no idea what to expect. I didn't know if it was a desert or a rain forest, flat or mountainous, interesting or boring. Well trust me, it's not a desert, it's got all kinds of different terrains and it's anything but boring.
A quick geography lesson for those who might think Tasmania is in Eastern Europe or Africa. It is an island roughly the size of the state of Ohio a couple hundred miles south of Melbourne Australia. It is an Australian state and is very much Australian.
For years I've heard rumors about the fly fishing in Tasmania. Phrases like "trout fishing in lakes reminiscent of bonefishing the flats" kept popping up so I had knew I had to get myself down there. But when I asked fly fishing guides in New Zealand about the possibilities across the Tasman Sea, I got a lot of negative responses. "Totally fished out." "Nothing like it used to be." "Crowded as a street in Sydney." Those were the types of comments the Kiwis had for Tasmania. Even the employees at a fly shop in Melbourne discouraged me about the fishing, saying that because of the worst drought in history combined with a cold December the fishing was really bad and I'd probably be happier visiting wineries. Well let me say right now they were all wrong. Very wrong. But it took me a while to figure that out.
I took the 9 hour ferry from Melbourne over to Tasmania (be sure to take your Dramamine) and as soon as I got there I liked the place. You immediately discover as the ferry is coming into port that the island is surrounded by beautiful beaches. I spent my first night at Narawntapu National Park and had 2 wombats, 14 kangaroos and over 20 wallabies visit my campsite. The next day I visited the Jansz Winery and discovered they made world-class Pinot Noir and sparkling wines. A day or two later I ate at Maggie McGee's restaurant in Coles Bay and had some of the best seafood of my life. And that's how I spent the first 3 weeks of my time in Tasmania - I figured the fishing must be bad so I walked gorgeous white sand beaches, tasted some really good wines and discovered little fishing villages with fantastic mom & pop restaurants. And I loved it.
Eventually I worked my way south of Hobart (Extremely beautiful coast down there) and started seeing some streams and rivers that looked might fishy. But I really wanted to visit the AirWalk (600m long walk through an old growth forest 40m up in the air - cool) and some caves down there (also really nice) so I tried to ignore the fishy looking water.
Then when I was visiting more caves in the central part of the island I stumbled on a really nice looking small river where I could spot trout feeding from a bridge on a tiny country rode. I parked, rigged up, and headed to the water. What I thought from the bridge was a trout rising ended up being a platypus, but still in about 90 minutes I caught 9 brown trout 12-18 inches long. That got my attention and I immediately got on the phone and made reservations with some guides that I had heard about who sounded good.
Unfortunately I was getting short on time so I was only able to go out with the guides two days. The first day I went out with Daniel Hackett who runs the RiverFly Lodge and we fished a small stream in the north-eastern corner of the island. It was great fun and I got the impression that the water only saw a few rods a year. Daniel was a great guide and I'd be happy to go out with him again. The second day I lake fished with Christopher Bassano who guides with the Rainbow Lodge and was very impressed. Christopher taught me a trick or two on how to fish for trout in windy conditions, and a whole new way to rig flies. It was great day and I definitely want to fish with Christopher again in Tasmania's Western Lakes Region.
Unfortunately, at this point it was almost time for me to return to the mainland. I got another day of fishing in on my own and amazingly I spent it lake fishing. It truly was stalking for big browns in relatively shallow water and I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it.
Tasmania's a great place - great beaches, great food, great wine, great fishing, and great people. I'll be back.Posted by Bruce on February 5, 2007 2:55 AM