This is the tale of a mythical sized trout that didn’t get away. In fact if you told me you saw a trout of these proportions I would nod and agree with you but inside I would be thinking otherwise. Luckily for me I have evidence of this amazing experience.
I’ve been hoping to see a trout this size for over 40 years now.
My fascination started with these fish as an 8-year-old boy when after a trip to New Zealand I convinced my dad to stock them back in our family's farm dam in Victoria.
From the Victorian trout scene I went on to enjoy two decades as a trout guide in the Snowy Mountains and Canberra Region.
This along with being part of the NSW Fly Fishing Team in 1998, along with my current gig of writing fishing columns for the Rural Press network and filming the Fishing Australia TV series has seen me target trout in WA, SA and of course Tasmania.
Amongst the pristine destinations trout fishing leads me and the wonderful people I meet there always the bonus of potentially seeing a something bigger than I’ve ever seen before, but to increase the chances of this takes proper planning.
Some six years ago I made friends with giant trout buff David Dick, who moved from Victoria to the Derwent Valley in Tasmania to pursue his dream of chasing giant trout.
Dave is from a long line of fly anglers including a grandfather who was legally blind yet still fished for salmon professionally in Scotland...by feel! My granddad on my mum’s side was Scottish, bagpipes and all, so Dave and I get on famously.
Now while there’s some brilliant saltwater fishing on offer in Tassie it’s the wild brown trout fishery that is revered the world over.
Having fished some 50 different trout waters in Taz I have only just scratched the surface, which is why it is most famous as the land of 1000 lakes.
Fewer people realize the rivers are special too.
This trip with Dave we targeted the Tyenna, Styx, Derwent and Florentine Rivers in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley and also further into the remote south west wilderness.
Besides the grand scenery from the lookouts, the size of the giant trees in the forests, like those in the Styx, cannot be done justice by camera. Those who have stood there will feel what I mean.
We caught good numbers of trout on basic lure techniques and then I spent time refining my Czech nymphing – a specialist fly fishing technique.
The planets were aligned from the start, even by Tasmanian standards - we caught a bench mark 10 pounder the first day.
Such is the rarity of a wild brown trout this size I’d only ever caught a dozen this big in 40 years, so to capture it with a proper TV crew there was like winning the lottery.
Amongst the catch were dozen 3 to 7 pounders which are also fantastic sized trout by any standards.
With mission accomplished we had time to film and soak up the scenery in places like Russel Falls and then on towards Gordon Dam where the heritage listed South West wilderness is simply awe inspiring.
We also fished Lake Pedder where – get this - the trout are so numerous the locals beg you to keep your bag limit so that the rest of the fish can grow bigger.
Mind you these are no tiddlers - these are magically conditioned 2-pound average trout with perfect tasting bright orange flesh courtesy of a diet high in crustacean. Pedder is about two hours drive from Hobart and open to trout fishing year round.
Then things went into the next stratosphere when we spotted a trout back in the river that was so big I could hardly believe it.
It looked to be a massive 85cm long but more amazingly it was a full 30cm deep and 20cm across the shoulders!
With Dave helping me keep sight of the beast I had to draw on every ounce of skill and experience to keep passing the tiny little size 10 flies past his mouth until he snapped.
Dave was more nervous than me hoping the fish didn’t spook or move deeper out of sight but somehow I just felt that this was my time and I was going to get the bite...and I did.
The fight was magnificent. A fish this size on 6-pound leader in fast water was going to take more than just skill but again I just felt this was my time and after a adrenaline pumping 30 minutes I had him tamed.
Dave’s caught a few around this size before and estimated it to be well over 20 pounds.
I previously doubted I would ever top 15 pounds in this lifetime.
We released the big buck back and as he dissolved out of sight it made me realize you just don’t know what you might find in a place like this.
Then, almost unbelievably, Dave hooked an even bigger trout and I had to get in the water to help wrestle it out!
I won’t spoil the upcoming Fishing Australia Episode with a the pic or the story but suffice to say size wise this was also the best days fly fishing Dave had ever experienced.
You catch the two Fishing Australia Giant Tassie Trout Specials this Saturday, August 5 and Saturday , August 12 both at 1.30pm on WIN Television and Channel TEN.
And you know what, Dave and I have been looking at the mountains of other unexplored spots in Tasmania’s remote South West. And we reckon we can find even bigger trout, they do exist, and we are after all fishermen.
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