The Nineteen Lagoons lie in a wild and stark landscape of highland moors, just west of the Great Lake on Tasmania’s Central Plateau.
The elements have shaped a dramatic and beautiful backdrop that reminds us there’s more to fly fishing than just the fish. The lagoons offer something for everyone; big lakes, small tarns, spring creeks and, every now and then, a huge surprise, if you pull on your boots and explore the front country, you may find a whopper living in a puddle.
It’s a rare day at the Nineteen Lagoons that anglers wouldn’t sight brown trout cruising, tailing or rising to insect hatches.
About The Nineteen Lagoons
One of the most accessible regions of the western lakes, the Nineteen Lagoons is a fly fisher’s paradise and big, wild trout in clear water are the main attraction.
From tailing trout of early-season through to cruising fish of summer and autumn, sight-fishing the wild trout at the Nineteen Lagoons is what many consider the pinnacle of our sport. This style of fishing is more akin to hunting, so be prepared to walk, explore and target individual fish rather than just fishing the waters.
In 2019, Tasmania hosted the 39th Fips–Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship and winner, Howard Croston described his experience fishing in Tasmania as ‘like fishing in a zoo’, ranking our Island amongst his top three fly fishing destinations in the world.
Nineteen Lagoons is a Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and home to an abundance of wildlife so expect to share your days with wombats, wallabies, echidnas, wedge-tailed eagles and platypus.
The Nineteen Lagoons area is the ultimate challenge for the experienced fly fisherman. Polaroiding large wild browns in shallow water can be very rewarding. In addition, tailing fish around the edges can be very exciting and demands all your skill and knowledge.
Peter Donati, Local Fly Fishing Guide
Trout Season: The Nineteen Lagoons
The Nineteen Lagoons open to anglers from early spring. Fishing at this time of year calls for thermals, gloves, beanies but don’t let the cold put you off, as this is the moment when the trout are hungry, and feed heavily after the long winter hiatus. Snowmelt fill the lakes and lagoons to the brim, and spills into the low-lying flood plains. At this time of year the trout can’t resist an easy feed which makes for excellent sight-fishing and 'searching for tails' as the trout feed in water so shallow that their tails and fins are often out of the water as they hunt.
When summer arrives in the Nineteen Lagoons, anglers trade gloves and scarves for wide hats and polaroids and switch from wet fly to dry fly. Trout begin to surface as the sun brings the insects out. There are reasonable mayfly and caddis hatches in some waters, but terrestrial insects, like gum beetles set the season up nicely. The trout cruise the sandy lake flats, or weedy margins and undercut banks and if the sun is out, can be seen with the aid of polaroid sunglasses as blurry shapes hanging in the water. Summer sight-fishing at the Nineteen Lagoons, is one of the most exciting fly fishing experiences an angler can have.
Autumn is a continuation of summer, but the trout become wary as the water levels drop and glassy conditions make for challenging fishing. The 'subtle season' is one of the more challenging times of the year as the trout can get fussy but there is still some fabulous sight-fishing to be had. Good hatches and plenty of terrestrials offer superb dry fly fishing opportunities which make this time of year a favorite for many experienced anglers.
Access To Nineteen Lagoons
Access to the Nineteen Lagoons is via Liawenee which lies on the western shore of Great Lake. The road takes anglers to the most popular waters such as Lakes Ada, Botsford and Augusta. Other lakes including O’Dells, Flora and Talinah Lagoon require a short to medium walk. A seasonal gate at Lake Augusta is opened in spring each year. The exact date changes from year to year depending on the condition of the road so it’s wise to check Inland Fisheries Service before you head out.
- In spring look for water coming over new ground, particularly where a soak enters a lake. Listen for the call of frogs. Find the food, and you'll find the fish. Tailing trout may not be as bold as we wish, keep an eye out for subtle movement, a dimple or even a fleeting glimpse of a fin.
- In summer and autumn wear a wide-brimmed hat, keep the sun over your shoulder (walk towards your shadow) and look for the critical indicators for finding trout - movement, colour, shape and even position. Be ready and cast quickly before the trout see you.
- If in doubt about where to start, head to Lake Ada, Lake Kay or Lake Botsford as these lakes offer a great introduction to the Nineteen Lagoons with polaroiding, mayfly fishing and easy access (Lake Kay is a short walk).
- A palmered pattern makes a perfect indicator dry fly in January and February when the beetles are around. Easy to see and good for windy days, it will support a nymph underneath.
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.
- Thousand Lakes Lodge is an ideal base for exploring the region. Built in 1980 to train and prepare Antarctic staff for expeditions, today it provides a comfortable base for fly fishers and adventure-seekers. Check out their e-bike and picnic packages.
- Great Lake Hotel is a good place to stay or stop in for a hearty, modern country-pub meal.
- Cressy is a town that loves fly fishing so much, the street signs are trout shaped. Book a guide with Trout Territory, based in Cressy, and try the fresh baked goods at Rustic Bakehouse.
- Lake St Clair is Australia’s deepest freshwater lake, located at the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, and a noteworthy fishing destination in its own right. Walk amongst the ancient pines in fjord-like surrounds and if you’re happy to overnight further afield, Pumphouse Point is truly indulgent.
- Nant Distillery & Estate is home to Tasmania’s first premium highland Single Malt Whisky. The distillery draws on water from the river Clyde, which is fed by a million-year-old glacial lake in the Tasmanian Highlands. Tours are available by appointment.
- Ratho Farm is Australia’s oldest golf course. Following old Scottish traditions it remains a public golf course (everyone is welcome) and the farm also offers fly fishing, walking and whisky.
- Highlands Power Trail is a self-driving trail for those interested in Tasmania’s rich hydro-industrial history. Stops include yingina /Great Lake and Waddamana power station.
- Several guides operate in the Central Highlands area – these include Trout Tales Tasmania, Tas High Country Fly Fishing Tours, The Highland Fly.
- Extend your stay with a road trip through Tasmania’s Heartlands and Western Wilds.
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