The Guide To Fly Fishing In Tasmania

It’s 150 years since British trout were introduced to Tasmania. Here, an expert’s guide to the new fly fishing Mecca

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So let’s get this straight – you can catch British brown trout in Tasmania?
Yes, and according to the island’s leading fly fishing guide, Daniel Hackett, it’s all down to one Sir James Arndell Youl, an Australian business agent and fish farmer.“In 1864, after two previous failed attempts, Youl successfully transported 100,000 Atlantic salmon ova and several thousand trout ova from Britain,” Hackett explains.“The ova arrived packed in moss and ice, and though the salmon never reproduced in the wild, the brown trout thrived. Tasmanian trout have serious pedigree, too, originating from Itchen, Wye, Wey, Tweed and Leven stock.”

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And is January a good time to fish?
“The peak season to fly fish in Tasmania is from November to March,” says Hackett.“Tasmania is a mountainous island in the middle of a massive chunk of ocean, so we get some pretty wild weather. But from mid-January to early April, calm days in the mid-twenties become the norm. These are perfect conditions for the mayflies and terrestrial bugs that drive the fishing over the southern summer. Catches of six to 12 wild trout, weighing between 1.5lbs and 4lbs, are the norm each day on the rivers.”As for his favourite spots to fish, Hackett recommends the northern rivers, the slow flowing South Esk, Meander and Mersey, based out of Launceston, and the Western Lakes and the remote World Heritage Area, with its 3000-plus lakes: “With the latter, you can expect to see wombats, platypus and wallabies as you stalk wild brown trout cruising crystal clear shallows.” 

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Sounds great for expert fly fisherman. but what about for novices?
“Tasmania has a few hundred kilometres of small to medium sized rivers, much like the English chalkstreams in character, though wilder,” explains Hackett.“These rivers are a great place for beginners to learn the ropes, while experienced fly fishers can spend their time targeting harder to catch 3-4lb brownies.”RiverFly Tasmania, Hackett’s company, offers expeditions on which anglers can walk the streams, wade the bigger rivers, raft-fish on the Macquarie, South Esk and Brumbys Creek, and even stay in the newly opened wilderness camp on the shore of a pristine lake in Tasmania’s World Heritage Area.

And why should we take your word for it?
“I’m a 34 year old Aussie who is married to Australia’s only female professional fly fisher, Simone Hackett. I learnt to fly fish in Ireland as a 12-year-old, poaching the local Bishop’s Estate, and moved to Tassie for the fly fishing life when I was 18. I’m now in my 11th season as a professional fly fishing guide. My biggest ever trout is around 16lbs – I hunted it down in the Mersey River, northern Tasmania. It took three different fly changes to trick the trout, which I spotted finning around in the back of a long, clear gravel run. I drank to excess around the campfire that night.”

This article first appeared in Esquire Weekly, our new iPad-only edition. Containing 100 per cent new and original content, it’s published every Thursday on the Apple Newsstand.

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