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Great Lake



Dud Bay September 2006

Swan Bay September 2006



Photos: J. Scatchard

The Great Lake is roughly a two hour road trip from the major centres of Devonport, Launceston and Hobart and is the largest impoundment of water in the Central Highlands. It is a huge 17,610 ha storage. The full supply level of Great Lake is a little over 1039 metres above sea level. As the Poatina Power Station has not been operational for a number of years the water level has continually climbed, and is now only a few metres from full supply level. The lake receives it's water from natural catchments via the Liawenee Canal from the Ouse drainage discharging at Canal Bay and from Arthurs Lake. The Hydro Electric Commission pump water up from Arthurs lake via a pipe line, discharging it at Tods Corner. Liawenee Canal is situated about half way up the Western Shore of Great Lake and is the major inflow of the lake. The natural outflow of the lake was into the Shannon River, but this is now damned allowing only a trickle of water into the Shannon. Water is now diverted via the Poatina Power Station into Brumby's Creek. Great Lake was first stocked with 120 Brown Trout fingerling's in 1870, and were the only trout released until 1910 when 5,500 Rainbow fingerlings were introduced. The offspring of the original Brown trout thrived in the shallow lake and their progeny grew to huge sizes.

Before the flooding, boats could be launched from the old roads and tracks around the lake, but with today's flooded conditions it is advisable to use the recommended boat ramps. They can be found at Cramps Bay, Brandum Bay, Swan Bay and Haddens Bay, which are the only regularly maintained launching ramps on the lake. It is important to take extreme care when boating on this large expanse of water which is 20km from North to South and very exposed. It can be a very dangerous water for smaller boats and for the inexperienced crew member. It is highly advisable to confine oneself to the sheltered bays and shores, but precautions must be taken when fishing close to shore as a large number of previously exposed tree stumps and rocks are now sitting just below the water surface.

The trout season on Great Lake differs from all other waters in the State, as it is only prohibited to fish on the lake between June and July. The season opens the nearest weekend to the 1st of August and closes on the last weekend closest to 31st March. Canal Bay being the exception as this opens on the nearest weekend to the 1st November to protect spawning trout. Great Lake is second only in popularity to Arthurs Lake with over 9,000 anglers wetting their lines every season. The catch rate is around 1 trout per angler per day with a total harvest of over 55,000 trout per season.

Over my years fishing this water I have restricted myself to the Southern end of the lake, fishing in Christmas Bay, Canal Bay, Swan Bay, Dud Bay, Haddens Bay and Todds Corner and have occasionally ventured over to Cramps Bay. Christmas Bay has proved to be a real bonanza for fly fishermen with the rising levels. Many good trout have been polaroided from this area in and around the kerosene bushes. Canal Bay around March offers good fly and lure fishing as the trout congregate around the bay waiting to make their spawn run. Swan Bay is a very good evening fishery. I spend many hours in this bay with smuts or redtags before dark and big dry flies in the darkness. Fishing Dud Bay is highly dependant on the wind direction as I alternate between Swan and Dud bays on evening. Todds Corner offers some great dry fly fishing in summer. I have come across good dun hatches in this bay, especially in the rain. When fishing this lake do not be put off by the appearance of the barren shores as it offers excellent wet, dry and polaroiding fly fishing and produces some of the best wind lane fishing in the highlands. Early morning or on dusk good wind lanes form on Swan Bay usually across from the Beehives moving across the bay.

My favourite flies on this water are the Fandark, Afterburner, Woolly Bugger, Redtag, Small Smut patterns and the Dunny Brush.

Bag Limits for Great Lake is 12 trout per angler