Growing up in Tassie for me meant countless weekends away camping and Trout fishing every chance we got and I guess not much has really changed over the years except for the obvious improvements in gear and techniques. Whether it was throwing grasshoppers in tiny creeks or trolling and casting lures in the highland lakes, I loved it all. Back in the day it was more about learning as much as possible so we could catch as many fish as we possibly could. While that is still the case, these days for me I get more of a kick out of specifically chasing a trophy sized trout. While people in other areas may have different views on this, from what I can gather a 10lb + trout seems to be the magic mark and is one that many of us strive for every season.
It took me thirty something years to finally crack that mark and in the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to rack up a few more up to my PB of just under 15lb! While you could say some of it does come down to luck, mostly it is time spent on the water which in turn, helps to learn and fine tune the techniques to suit the different waters fished. That brings me to my next point being that obviously there are many waters which although may hold thousands of fish, may not ever hold a trophy trout or if they do the chances of catching one are like trying to win the lottery.
So if your like me and are constantly on the hunt for a huge trout you may have to sacrifice some of your time that you might normally spend catching lots of two pounders, and try some new locations and ones that are known for producing the biggest fish. One such location and perhaps the most consistent of these is lake crescent in Tassie’s central highlands.
In it’s hey day Crescent was a mecca for many die hard anglers from all over the state and even interstate chasing these monster trout until 1995 when European Carp were discovered in the Lake and it was subsequently closed to fishing. This was a sad day indeed but thanks to a lot of work from the dedicated staff at the Inland Fisheries Service who managed to (hopefully) eradicate this pest species and was reopened to the public again in 2004. When reopened it was re-classified as an artificial lures only water, so no bait fishing allowed, which in my opinion was a good move. Lake Crescent is a unique, shallow, mostly silty bottom lake and it is home to a small endemic fish called Golden Galaxias (galaxias auratus) and for some reason these fish thrive in this water like no other. There are literally millions upon millions of these Galaxia, hence the Trout grow so big and so fast! There wouldn’t be much natural recruitment in the lake so it relies on regular stocking from IFS. Many of these stocked Trout are Triploid fish (they never spawn) meaning they will just keep on growing and never lose condition from the spawning process. Remember there is a 5 fish bag limit which can only include 2 fish exceeding 500mm and minimum size is 300mm. There are both Brown and Rainbow trout present and the average size fish will be 4 – 10lb. Yes that’s no misprint! 10lb fish are quite common and with many more taken each year nudging 20lb!
Now I have your attention I will say that like many other big fish, these massive trout don’t come easily and if you catch say from one to three fish per full day of casting, you have had a good day on Crescent. Like anywhere, some days are better, some are worse. Being a shallow, silty bottom lake the water is quite murky, even more so on windy days meaning the fish have low visibility. This means it often takes many many casts and sometimes hours on end to get your lure in front of one but when it does happen I can assure you it will be worth the effort! Simple law of averages will tell you that it will be easier to find a fish by casting in close to the shore. While you will see some huge fish jump out in the middle of the lake, there is a whole lot more water to cover out in the open so your chances of hooking one will be far less. Both boating and shore bashing can be productive and the best thing about the murky water is that as long as you move slowly and quietly, you wont spook any fish! More often than not your lure will get hit right at your feet so be ready! When a Trout of 10 - 20lb boils at your lure right in front of you it gets the old heart racing I can tell you! If you do see even the slightest boil or movement, get over there and cover the area thoroughly as a keen eye will bring more fish undone.
At its deepest out in the middle, lake crescent is only around 2.5 – 3 metres when at full supply and closer in shore it is much shallower indeed so care needs to be taken when boating as there is the occasional rock bar or submerged log that you simply will not see in the murky water. Being very shallow your lures need to suit so either shallow running hardbodys or soft plastics around 60 -100mm are best. The 80 and 100mm squidgy fish in black and gold has been the go to for me along with the killer tomato which stands out well in the dirty water. The addition of a fly dropper will increase your chances too and often you will get just as many fish on the dropper. Colours don’t seem to matter a whole lot though and as I said it’s more about having lots of casts to increase your chances. Die hard fly fishos do well in there also if that’s your thing and a big trout on fly gear really is something special!
As there aren’t many snags in the lake you will get away with relatively light gear on these big trout. A quality fast action 2-4 or 2-5kg rod around 7 feet in length matched with a 2000-2500 size reel loaded with 5-8lb braid with a short 8lb leader will be about perfect. Shimano have it covered whatever your budget so talk to your local tackle store for the best setup for you.
Hope to see you there one day! Hopefully you will be holding a massive trout with a huge smile on your dial and a great story to tell!