Tasmanian trout tourism on the rise, anglers call for more investment in fisheries

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A Northern Tasmanian dad hooked a $10,000 trout, the state government announced $100,000 towards the 2019 World Fly Fishing Championships and a passionate angler called for a crackdown on vandalism “up the lakes” – reporter MELISSA MOBBS explores the state’s trout tourism. 

After thirteen years the Tasmanian Trout Expo is going strong, with thousands of keen anglers making their way to the banks at Cressy each year. 

The highlight of the expo for many is one special brown trout, worth a whopping $10,000.

This year, it only took 15 minutes for one lucky lad to hook the winning fish – Timmy the tagged trout.

Powranna dad Corey Dolbey has been taking his kids to the expo for the past seven years but said he never expected to leave with “such an expensive dinner”.

Mr Dolbey said it all happened “pretty quick” and he didn’t even need a net to land Timmy on Saturday.

“It didn’t put up much of a fight at all, it was pretty easy to get in,” he said.

“It took about an hour and a half before I knew - I wasn’t sure if it was one of last year’s tagged fish so I was excited to find out.”

The proud angler said he landed the winning fish on a rainbow trout coloured lure.

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The 40-year-old said he had been trout fishing since he was a kid himself but Timmy was his best catch yet.

Tasmanian Trout Expo committee president Richard Goss said the tagged trout was just one of the many reasons the event had grown tremendously over its time.

“Fishing has always been big in Tasmania, it’s always been world-renowned and people have been coming here for many years to fish on our great waters,” he said.

“The expo is probably one of the premiere fishing events in Tasmania. We have definitely gotten a lot bigger since all of those years ago. 

“Our aim is to promote trout fishing in Tasmania.”

DAY ON THE BANK: Richard Goss, Jonathan Stagg, Guy Barnett and Malcolm Crosse at the 2017 Tasmanian Trout Expo at Cressy on Saturday. Picture: Supplied

DAY ON THE BANK: Richard Goss, Jonathan Stagg, Guy Barnett and Malcolm Crosse at the 2017 Tasmanian Trout Expo at Cressy on Saturday. Picture: Supplied

Mr Goss said the event was all about bringing families together and creating new traditions.

“We have a lot of first time fishers and people who catch their first ever trout,” he said.

“There’s always plenty of adults walking around the banks who started as kids at the expo.”

The 2017 event kicked off on the same day the state government announced $100,000 towards the 2019 World Fly Fishing Championships, which will be held in Northern Tasmania.

“Having the championships here is just another way to showcase what we’re doing in Tasmania and all the great fishing spots we have got,” Mr Goss said.

Making the announcement out at Cressy on Saturday was Liberal member for Lyons, Guy Barnett.

“The World Fly Fishing Championships presents a great opportunity to strengthen our brand by showcasing Tasmania’s clean waterways, beautiful natural surroundings and of course our world-class produce,” Mr Barnett said.

The World Fly Fishing Championships will be held from November 30 to December 8, 2019 and more than 1000 people are expected to come to Tasmania, including about 30 teams with 37 countries eligible to compete.

“Tasmania enjoys some of the best trout fishing in the world with some first-class fishing locations, which helped Tasmania’s case to host the 2019 World Fly Fishing Championships,” Mr Barnett said.

“This is terrific news for tourism businesses and the visitor economy, particularly across Northern Tasmania. This will ensure regional areas share the benefit of Tasmania’s tourism boom, strengthening regional economies and supporting local jobs.”

While the event has received positive feedback from both the angling community and the general public, it has also highlighted the need to crackdown on an increase in vandalism and destruction around the state’s waterways.

Last week, the Central Highlands Council closed its Bethune Camping Area at Ouse “until further notice” after the area was destroyed by four-wheel-drives.

It’s not the first time a camping area in the Central Highlands has been damaged.

In May, anglers called for more policing in the region after signs were destroyed, an emergency beacon was stolen and rubbish was littered throughout camp sites at Lake Echo, Bronte Lagoon and Brady’s Lake.

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Volunteers were forced to spend days cleaning up ironing boards, rusty car doors and furniture.

Two months later, the Tooms Lake camp ground toilets were closed “due to vandalism”.

Ken Orr, an expert angler and fly fishing guide, is one volunteer continually “cleaning up” after vandals. 

Fly fishing guide Ken Orr. Picture: Facebook

Fly fishing guide Ken Orr. Picture: Facebook

After finding out about the latest act of vandalism Mr Orr said he was “really sick of this weekly crap” and it was “hugely important” for the issue to be dealt with before the championships.

“Just this season alone we have had the toilets burnt at Tooms Lake, the shoreline trashed at Tooms Lake and the shore line trashed at Pine Tier Lagoon,” he said.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to fish in a lot of places around the world and have not seen places trashed like they are here in Tasmania.

“We have easily available fisheries that can be accessed with a short drive from any major city or town, we have free camping areas that are unrestricted and so they should be, but people take advantage of it because nobody is policing it.”

Mr Orr said the championships would be “the time to sell” Tasmania to the rest of the world.

“We will never get a better opportunity to profile ourselves, we should be investing in it by policing more. We need people on the ground from Hydro, from Inland Fisheries Service and Tasmania Police to try and monitor the areas,” he said.

“There is a major need to get this under control now so we can present to the world a fishery that is unique and not a trashed area.

“Areas like Penstock Lagoon, Woods Lake, Arthurs Lake and those more popular areas are going to be looked at and that’s where there’s a continuation of illegal activity.”

After fishing the lakes for more than 50 years he said it was time to “get it under control” and “get these areas protected”.

“The World Fly Fishing Championships, people will come with their press teams and they will film it, report on it,” Mr Orr said.

“We have time, let’s prioritise this.”

Tasmania Police has said it maintains a “strong working relationship with Parks and Wildlife, Inland Fisheries and other agencies, and the Central Highlands area is regularly patrolled”.

Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity should contact police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.