Tasmania’s Great Lake is the largest hydro-electric storage in the Central Highlands. The natural Great Lake was first dammed in 1912 and subsequently dammed another three times, with the current rockfill wall completed in 1967. When full, the lake has the capacity to cover an immense 17610 hectares, and hold 3178 million cubic metres of water.
However, in recent years Tasmania’s Central Plateau has suffered low rainfall; the winter of 2006 was the driest on record. This has taken its toll on Great Lake. At the time of writing, it is down to below 20 per cent of hydro generating capacity or around 16.5 metres from full. At this level, the lake can appear barren and unappealing, with low water scars dominating the landscape and many prominent bays having all but disappeared.
The good news is that although not aesthetically pleasing, the current low water levels are creating some outstanding fishing. The typical size of Great Lake fish has increased over the past five years. Low water levels promote better weed growth. With weed comes more invertebrate life, meaning more food for the fish. While both brown and rainbow trout are present, brown trout still dominate and in the 2006 spawning run, the average weight of browns has risen to 2.6 lb. This was a significant increase on the previous year.
While Great Lake is one of Tasmania’s most popular trout fisheries, many fly- fishers fail to recognise its full potential. The lake’s large size and exposed nature turns many fly anglers away.Traditionally it has been regarded as an ‘evening rise’ venue where, in calm conditions, it offers very reliable and accessible sport. But if you can look beyond this, with a little confidence and knowledge, you too can experience the fantastic daytime fly fishing it has to offer.
As a fishery, Great Lake is as diverse as it is large. Midges dominate the hatches, but fish rise freely to a range of terrestrial insects. The lake also offers superb polaroiding water for both boat and shore-based anglers. On days when no fish can be seen, blind prospecting with a team of dries produces outstanding results.
While the lake offers high quality wet fly fishing, to me it is a dry fly fishery. Leave the dull, overcast days for nearby famous mayfly waters. Best days on Great Lake are blue-sky days with light to moderate winds. Fishing on bright days, with a good wave to open up and create a ‘window’, best allows you to take advantage of the lake’s crystal clear water and the fantastic visual dry fly fishing