Work on Woods pays off
As 2017 draws to a close, it is timely to reflect on the performance of one of our more popular highlands fisheries, Woods Lake. Woods was ranked number three in the 2016/17 IFS angler postal survey, which puts Tasmania’s lakes in order of their popularity. However, in the not so distant past, Woods was a turbid (murky or cloudy) lake only visited by those brave enough to take on the rough and rocky Woods Lake Road. The poor state of the access road and the less-than-ideal nature of the lake limited its appeal - but the issues didn’t end there. The lake was also home to two species of listed galaxiid: saddled galaxias and Arthurs paragalaxias. IFS surveys in the mid-1990s, however, reported the decline and possible disappearance of the latter species.
A series of scientific studies commissioned by Hydro Tasmania revealed that there was a strong relationship between water level and turbidity levels in the lake, that is, the lower the water level, the cloudier it became. Hydro Tasmania and the Inland Fisheries Service revised the water level management guidelines for the lake which aimed to reduce the frequency and severity of turbid episodes, with the long term aim of improving baseline water clarity. In short, the new management regime undertook to keep lake levels higher than those experienced historically. Woods Lake supplies irrigation water to downstream users so in order to maintain acceptable levels for this group as well as for the management of the turbidity issues, water is occasionally released from Arthurs Lake to sustain Woods Lake levels.
These management measures have been highly successful. They have contributed to improvements to the lake’s ecology and, to the satisfaction of everyone involved, Arthurs paragalaxias have re-established a population in the lake. While not entirely clear, their reappearance this is likely to be due to a combination of factors including translocations by the IFS, immigration from Arthurs Lake during water releases to Woods, and improvements in habitat quality as a result of improved water level management.
Improvements to the lake’s ecology combined with IFS funded upgrades to the Woods Lake Road has transformed the lake into a popular fishery. The IFS reported that it has continued to fish well this year, and the fish have been in excellent condition. Woods Lake was one of the competition venues for the recent National Fly Fishing Championships, and has been shortlisted as a venue for the World Fly Fishing Championships in 2019.
Have you seen an improvement in the number or quality of fish that you’ve caught at Woods Lake? We’d love to hear of your experience, especially if you can compare this to previous years. Your comments and photos (if you have them) can be sent to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.