Struck Too Early…

Tasmania’s Western Lakes region is surely the most enchanting area the sight-fishing angler would hope to encounter. Shallow lagoons and tarns, crystal clear water and silty-bottomed waters brimming with trout that are sometimes keen for a decent feed. My life has been pretty hectic of late, with work and family life taking a hold, which is great apart from the whole work reference. I’ve been fishing around a bit here and there lately, just not enough time to write about it, but when the opportunity came around to hook up with a couple of blokes and smash out a mission in the wild West, I was immediately as toey as a roman sandal and knew some words may follow.

Some people are reluctant to choose a destination in advance, instead waiting for the elements to dictate their movements and style of fishing. While this is the case for me on occasion,  my desire to commit and adjust to the conditions takes priority more often these days. I’ve found myself in some shitty weather due to this philosophy, but you can learn from it too.

I had been well overdue for a walking trip having not made it out west yet this season so rounded up Chump (Paul) and Baz (Mitchell) to explore some water during a day mission. We headed up after work on Thursday night and avoided most of the wildlife before arriving at the Little Pine shack for a wind-down beverage with Tony and Geoff who were sliding into some dinner and a lazy Jameson as we arrived. They entertained us with a few yarns from yester-year when the clock chimed past midnight and our four o’clock start was looming.

I really must change my alarm. I swear I was halfway through a dream and playing out a trophy fish when my kooky alarm persuaded my mind to believe there was a random stalker trying to cut off my head with a butter knife. That fucking alarm licks the bag.

We ‘kicked the pig’ and made our way to the Lake Ada car park, avoiding a few deer and millions of kangaroos along the way. It was already quite light and the need for head-torches was dismissed. Which was a shame as we were hoping for a few tails. We arrived to Ada Lagoon and found a distraction in the form of a waving tail anyway so Baz tried his best to tempt the beast but failed. In any case this fish was just eating in to our short time-frame so we buggered off along the track.

When we arrived at our first water the plan to split up and round this lagoon was made. The sun wasn’t fully up yet and the glare coupled with a slight breeze made it difficult to polariod. We hoped that the lea shore would provide some better water. We were right. It wasn’t long before we spotted a fish, then two…. no, THREE! They were all cruising over the same silty corner and it was my time to have a lash. I picked out the closest one and he came over to the dry to have a look but refused it. That put a dent in my confidence but I remained with the trusty red tag and stick caddis combo. We paced along the bank and one fish was still present so another opportunity was available. I popped the fly a metre or so away from the fish and he soon noticed it and made a bee-line toward the dry. The fish casually nosed up to the fly and opened its mouth and I lifted…. Nothing. Pauly immediately chimed in – “Too early, you struck too early”. Deep down I knew it but I defiantly responded “Nah, he closed his mouth on it, surely”. What I was trying to say was “Who invited you anyway!!”. A little disheartened I accepted that I was too keen and soldiered on. Ten metres on and I spotted another and as Pauly wasn’t even rigged up yet I quickly hurled a fly in its path. The fish saw it and the whole scenario was repeated with me pulling the fly out of its mouth. I was a bit green… and then red! What a muppet.

Further over, Baz had spooked a couple and was trying his best to get a cast to a rising fish that kept showing just out of reach, to no avail. Pretty sure he saw my questionable skills too. The small amount of cloud was burning off quickly and that sun began to tickle our skin, paving the way for a warm and blue-sky day – the perfect scenario for sight-fishing in these parts.

The next lagoon over revealed a caddis hatch, with a small breeze sending moths out into the middle where some nice fish were happily munching them off the surface. Although a small water almost every fish was out of reach and there was nothing cruising the edges. It was still awesome to see solid fish porpoising repeatedly.

With high hopes we headed over to a large and more popular water. We immediately noted a couple of cormorants drying their wings on the rocks. Seems that their presence is widespread this season and despite always seeing fish at this water, we circumnavigated the whole thing without seeing a fish. No doubt they were there somewhere but perhaps in deeper water or thinned out by the feathered fishermen.

We headed back to the main creek that feeds this system and Pauly soon spots one. The fish disappeared and he began winding his line back in when it came cruising back up the bank. Wicked. His first cast went un-noticed but the second landed in the fish’s path and ole spotty zoned in on it. Chomp! Pause! On! As Baz and myself hooted with delight, Pauly muttered the words “See how I waited on that”. I could have kicked him in the shins but instead, I got my camera out.

We continued down the system fishing un-named tarns and lagoons looking for ideal water. Many of them were really low for this time of year which doesn’t look good if the lack of rain and cormorant populations continue. Only a couple of fish were seen here and there but the caddis hatches hanging over the water were left un-molested by any trout. You could almost polariod the entire length too so we would have seen any fish if they were there. We found a couple of small fish in the last lagoon and Baz’s offer was refused by one while I was in position to target the other. I managed the eat but you guessed it, missed once again. Could have sworn that I left it long enough this time but really, I had sworn enough!

We stopped at a sizeable lagoon on the way back and finally found some cruising fish working the edges and others sipping midge further out. We were fast running out of time due to a dinner curfew but stopped to play, of course. Baz eyed off a couple of midge feeders and sent ripper cast out and hooked a nice fish, only to lose it soon after. He was also having one of them days. I found a fish moving quickly away from me along the shore and lost sight of it for a moment. I stayed and watched thinking it had moved out to deeper water but found it again a little further along the bank. The dry was flicked and the fish was keen for it – This time I hit lip. It was just a little one but man it’s always good to get on the board, even more so when you had used up all other chance cards.

Baz had a quick sniff at Lake Ada on the way back and was refused once again along the shore, with a fish denying the well-presented dry. I felt his frustration but that’s how it is some days – You can have a wonderful stage and all props set for a splendid performance only to break a leg. I guess that’s why it’s called fishing, not catching. Despite the scorecard looking pretty low I have no doubt that we all had a ripper day out and watching fish do their thing in a wild environment with two good blokes certainly makes it worthwhile.

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