Steady waters with good fly fishing, all season long
The Meander River winds through the central north of Tasmania. A popular fishing stream for both brown and rainbow trout it was also one of the venues chosen for the 2019 Fips–Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship.
The damming of the river and reservoir of Lake Huntsman produces cool, even flows and clear waters that lends itself to consistently good fly fishing, all season long. The Meander River offers a lot of diversity over a relatively short journey, and anglers can easily spend a day, a week, or longer exploring.
About Meander River
The Meander River begins its journey high up in the wilderness of the Great Western Tiers, a small sparkling stream that pours from the mountains, as cold as ice melt. There are plenty of feeder creeks that top up the Meander River, but thanks to the Huntsman’s Dam evening out early-season water flows and floods, there’s good fishing available all season.
Below the dam, the river is still a rough and tumble affair, with banks mostly untouched by man or machine. The river’s flow takes effort to cross, but the current is regulated, making it a superb trout fishery.
As the Meander River flows from the dam wall to join with South Esk River near the quaint town of Carrick, its character changes with the landscape. The river bubbles and murmurs over boulder, rock and pebble to Deloraine and becomes a true tailwater with runs, and pools, and vigorous trout. Downstream of the beautiful town of Deloraine the river slows down, stretches out and opens into a classic meadow stream - slow and gentle, with big broad waters that hold some spectacular trout.
Anglers can spend a day, a week or longer on this river fishing the ripples with a buoyant dry fly, or stealthy nymph under an indictor and expect to get plenty of action. Some days the fishing is fast and furious, other days, anglers need to work hard until they find their rhythm and connect with the trout. On those glorious early summer mornings, when the light touches the river turning it into a thread of silver, there is no better place to be.
The magic of the Meander River is its diversity – from riffles, runs and pools in farmland areas to pocket water tumbling through native untouched forest and wild, hungry brown trout eager to rise and take dry flies. Not without its challenges – the Meander draws me back again and again!
Karen Brooks, Local Fly Fishing Guide
Trout Season: Meander River
Late winter to spring
The river takes time to stir after winter. Early season is about finding a soft current and either fishing a nymph upstream, Euro-style or under an indicator. For trout that love a moving fly, swinging flies, like a soft hackle spider, in the gentler flows, is an effective way to search the water. Some days a bigger woolly bugger might tease the trout into action by using a sink-tip fly line to get the fly down in the deeper flowing pools.
When the days get longer and warmer anglers can expect to see the first decent hatches of aquatic insects. Mayflies and caddis start to hatch in large numbers, and the trout get busy rising to the surface for these insects. Late spring and early summer is the time of year when the dry fly begins to get noticed, and it's an exciting time to be on the water.
A nymph is a great option throughout the season, and a small gold bead helps to get the fly down deep and get noticed. Downstream of Deloraine, in the meadow sections, miniature caenid mayflies hatch early in the morning creating some demanding fly fishing. For some, this is the highlight of the season.
When the full force of summer arrives in the Meander Valley, the fishing kicks up a notch. Aquatic and Terrestrial hatches dominate and the fish feed freely at the surface. Grasshoppers become abundant as summer rolls along, and the trout seem to switch into 'hopper mode'. It’s a joy to fish chunky hopper patterns as the trout relish the thought of a big easy meal and the takes can be aggressive.
The hopper dropper, that is, a grasshopper fly with a bead head nymph hung underneath, is a great way to fish the runs and ripples. Still, it is essential to fish as light as possible as the trout become suspicious of heavy tippets and poorly-presented flies. Wild trout will test the angler every time, which is part of the fun.
Access To Meander River
The Meander River has many convenient entry points along the entire length of the river. Upstream from Deloraine access is easy as roads cross the river at Huntsman Road, Cheshunt Road and Barretts Bridge. Access is also available downstream of Deloraine along Westwood Road.
- The Meander River was chosen as a venue for the 2019 Fips–Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship, and for good reason, it holds a lot of trout, both browns and some rainbows, and has excellent access from the dam wall downstream to Deloraine and beyond.
- Think of the river in distinct sections, with each section suited to different angling styles and preferences. Upstream of Meander can be great for all angler methods but is particularly suitable for Euro-style nymphing. Downstream of Meander, as the river makes its way towards Deloraine, the river is a classic tailrace with all fly-fishing methods successful - upstream dry fly, dry dropper, nymphing, swinging flies in the currents, or sight fishing for rising trout works best. The lower reaches are classic meadow 'beats' which are very good for mayfly fishing and polaroiding fish in the slower broad waters.
- Try exploring further afield and fish above Huntsman Lake where the river is smaller and more intimate, or on the lake itself, which is also an excellent fishery.
- In summer when the grasshoppers are around in abundance, plopping a hopper pattern down (like the Tipsy Hopper) and giving it a kick by twitching the rod will often see an aggressive take.
- A Klinkhammer fly works well anywhere along the Meander but performs best in faster flowing streams and bubble lines between December and April.
While You're In The Area
Of course, a fly fishing trip to Tasmania is mostly about the fishing – but these local picks will help you make the most of your visit.
- Launceston is considered the river-fishing capital of Tasmania and offers an ideal base for getting to know Meander River. The ship-shaped Peppers Seaport Hotel which stands on the site of an old dry dock has a luxurious nautical feel.
- If you’d rather stay close by, Tahara Cottages are self-contained accommodations in Deloraine just moments to the river.
- Deloraine is a town full of character with plenty of quirky shops and galleries to wander. For great café-style food and coffee, Deloraine Deli is a good choice or try 41° South Salmon and Ginseng Farm for a light lunch and tour amidst UNESCO listed wetlands.
- Liffey Falls walk is a 45 minute return walk to see multi-level falls nestled in the deep, mossy forest beneath the spectacular Great Western Tiers. For something a bit more adventurous, try the day hike to Split Rock Falls.
- Cradle Mountain National Park is one of Tasmania’s most iconic wilderness destinations. Treat yourself to a stay at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, book an unforgettable spa experience with Waldheim Alpine Spa and dine at the Highlands Restaurant for hearty meals by the open fire.
- Gin and whisky enthusiasts might appreciate a stop at Cradle Mountain Whisky, Southern Wild Distillery, or Turner Stillhouse.
- Driftwater is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a local fly fishing guide.
- Extend your stay with a road trip through Tasmania’s Northern Forage and Heartlands.
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