Thousand lakes lodge, TAS. © Picasa,Thousand lakes lodge
Sapphire-blue, sub-tropical oceans, clear and clean high-country lakes and mighty rivers provide the setting for fly fishing in Australia. For an adventure that you won’t forget, check out these top fly fishing experiences.
By Steve Starling
Whether you want to fish the clear lakes of Tasmania’s Central Plateau or chase a barramundi in the Gulf of Carpentaria, those adventures and many more await in the vast fishing waters of Australia. Here are the top experiences, both fresh- and saltwater.
THOUSAND LAKES LODGE, CENTRAL PLATEAU, TASMANIA
Just a two hour drive north from Hobart, or about an hour south-west of Launceston, Tasmania’s sub-alpine Central Plateau provides some of the finest fly fishing for wild-spawned brown trout anywhere. The clear, shallow tarns of the Nineteen Lagoons in the Central Highlands World Heritage Area offer challenging but rewarding sight-fishing opportunities for those with the patience to spot the fish before luring them in. Happily, this is all within a short drive or walk from the luxurious Thousand Lakes Lodge. This beautifully refurbished former Australian Antarctic Training Centre, which was used to help acclimatise workers headed to Antarctica, provides the ideal base for exploring one of fly fishing’s “must-do” locations. Hunt wily brown trout with an experienced local guide from dawn to dusk, then relive the day’s experiences over locally produced fare from gourmet delicatessen Wursthaus Kitchen, accompanied by a local craft beer, cider or pinot noir from Goaty Hill Wines just down the road.
RIVER ESCAPES, NORTH EASTERN VICTORIA
The rugged mountain ranges and heavily timbered valleys of Victoria’s north eastern high country, an easy two hour drive from Melbourne, offer a fascinating mix of fly fishing opportunities for introduced brown and rainbow trout, right alongside our native Australian Murray cod. Experience both challenges on consecutive days, or concentrate on one or the other for your entire visit. River Escapes provides experienced, expert guiding, tuition, tackle if required and their own comfortable base-camp lodge in the mountains.
HERVEY BAY FLY AND SPORTFISHING, HERVEY BAY/CAPRICORN COAST, QUEENSLAND
A half day drive (or a short flight) north from Brisbane puts you in the heart of a classic marine cross-over zone, with a unique mix of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate species occurring side-by-side. Stretching from Hervey Bay and Fraser Island up to the Capricorn Coast region near Rockhampton in south eastern Queensland, the waters teem with a variety of fish. It’s sometimes possible to catch a tailor (bluefish) one cast and a barramundi the next, or to chase cruising threadfin salmon and golden trevally on shallow, sun-warmed sand flats in the morning before tweaking a surface fly between lily pads to tempt Australian bass and saratoga in the afternoon. Few anglers know these varied waters better than Andrew Chorley, owner of Hervey Bay Fly and Sportfishing, who caters to all types of fishing.
FISH’S FLY & SPORTFISHING, WEIPA, NORTH QUEENSLAND
Fish’s Fly & Sportfishing in Weipa, which is a five hour flight from Brisbane, boasts a fleet of fast, safe and comfortable vessels and a proven track record that’s reflected in a long list of repeat clients and glowing testimonials. No operator is better equipped to guide you to the memorable action here than Alan “Fish” Philliskirk and his team. The shallow, warm waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria that separates Cape York from Arnhem Land in far northern Australia, is a tropical fishing paradise. Up here the diversity of fish is only matched by the range of locations. Hook barramundi, saratoga and sooty grunter in jungle-lined rivers or permit, queenfish and golden trevally on the sand flats. You’ll find snapper, jacks and groupers on the reefs light tackle game fishing for big mackerel, cobia and sailfish just offshore.
TRUE BLUE BONES, EXMOUTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Brett and Simone Wolf of True Blue Bones offer first class, professionally guided fly fishing packages on the crystal clear sand flats inside Ningaloo Reef, as well as in nearby Exmouth Gulf. Brett has carved a solid reputation for regularly putting clients on to trophy-sized bonefish and Indo-Pacific permit, and many of his customers return again and again to sample this extraordinary standard of fishing. In addition to those two highly sought-after sportfish, these warm, shallow waters offer abundant trevally, queenfish, giant herring (ladyfish), milkfish, Indo-Pacific tarpon (ox-eye herring) as well as unique Aussie prizes such as the fussy and hard fighting “blue bastard” (a member of the sweetlips family) and even pockets of big saltwater barramundi. It’s hardly surprising that a day with True Blue Bones is on the bucket list of many a well-travelled fly fisher!
FLY FISHING FRONTEIRS, EXMOUTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Fully accredited by Fisheries WA, Fly Fishing Frontiers customize their deluxe fly fishing charters specifically to suit the hopes and expectations of an increasingly demanding and sophisticated clientele. Trips might involve chasing bonefish, permit, trevally and queenfish on the shallow flats, or heading offshore in search of larger fare, including sailfish or even marlin on fly. Full packages, including accommodation, meals and all transfers, can be easily arranged by this flexible and versatile operation. Share your fly fishing dream with them and they’ll do their best to make it a reality!
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