Great Lake, Tasmania

By Jamie Harris

The Great Lake in Tasmania’s central highlands has always been a favorite Trout haunt of mine and it’s also one of a handful that is open all year round. At 176 square kilometres, after lake Pedder, it’s Tasmania’s second largest lake and sits at 1030 metres above sea level. I’ve fished the Great Lake since I was knee high to a grasshopper and probably spent more time there than any other so over the years, I guess you could say I have learnt a thing or two about it. No matter how many times I go there, when I first come up over the mountain and see the lake, I am always in awe of the sheer size of it and I always get a feeling that I’m back home.

I have fond memories of camping on the lake shore, baitfishing with wattle grubs, casting lures from the shore or boat using spinners or wobblers and occasionally trolling flatfish behind our old marine ply boat. Even back then we consistently caught fish when other people we knew used to really struggle there which always amazed and even amused me somewhat. As I kid I just thought we just had to be way better fishermen than them but knowing what I know now I realise that probably wasn’t the case.

My dad, uncles and I used to fish the Great Lake more than anyone I knew and so with the years of experience, we basically worked out where the fish were and also where they weren’t. Many of Tassie’s highland lakes are similar in that you can probably cast a line in just about anywhere and expect to catch a fish or two, where as the Great Lake, being so vast, has many featureless and barron looking shores where you may not ever see a fish. On the other hand, when you found the fish, generally they would be concentated in small areas and some thirty odd years later that is still the case today.

Like most fish, Trout will always be where the food is and to find the food and ultimately fish, you need to find structure and at Great Lake this can be in the form of rocky points jutting into deep water or shores with big boulders or old timber stands. If you’re fishing from a boat, concentrate around these same areas. Weed beds are another key food source and while they aren’t as obvious, a good depth sounder and a keen eye will find some. Generally weed beds will be in around the 4-6 metre range. Any deeper and weed doesn’t get enough sunlight to grow. If you start hooking some weed on your lures then you can guarantee a fish won’t be far away. 

To save you some work, some hot spots to try are - The Beehives Point. Todd’s Corner and Beckett’s Bay. Maclanachan’s Point Island and Kangaroo Islands. Canal, Elizabeth and Cramps bays. The Eastern side of Reynolds Neck. Good weed beds can be found in Swan, Dud, Beckett’s bay and also Todd’s Corner. Check local angling regulations as Canal bay has a closed season to protect spawning fish.

Lures - while old techniques will work I’ve found soft plastics like Squidgies Fish, Wrigglers and Whipbaits in the 60-80mm range work best. Depending on the wind and depth I use 3-9 gram jigheads and a 5 gram is usually my go-to. Colours aren’t super important although my rule of thumb has always been “bright day, bright lure, dull day, dull lure” Quality hardbodies of a similar size will work also.

Tips - In the colder months from May-Oct most fish will be holding and feeding in deeper water and it’s these times when soft plastics will be your best option so work your lure slow and close to the bottom. In the warmer months from Nov-Apr will see the Trout looking up more and at times of good Gum Beetle falls they will move right up into the shallows when small hardbodies, lightly weighted plastics or Fly will be best. Also in the summer months, some exciting fishing can be had using surface lures like fishcakes or poppers after dark. The surface strikes, often when you least expect it, can really be “heart in the mouth” sort of stuff!

Gear - A quality 2-4 or 2-5kg spin combo will suit any Trouting application in Tassie and my fav combo at present is the awesome Shimano Twinpower 2500s and 3Zero 6102 2-5kg. 5lb Power Pro in yellow with a 6 or 8lb Ocea Flouro Leader. 

Keep in mind that Tassie’s highlands can cop some extreme cold and windy weather at times so always go prepared, stay safe and enjoy!