The excitement of the trout season opening was dampened by floods across the West and South Gippsland catchments as well-above average rainfall fell for the first half of September.
All streams and rivers broke their banks and the steady rainfall meant that the flow took some time before receding. Given we haven’t had this amount of rain for well over 10 years, we can’t really complain and the outlook for stream trout fishing throughout late spring and summer will make this season one to remember.
I spent a few days early in the trout season walking around the local streams with the fishing rod but the fishing was difficult due to the strong flows. The water is flowing very clear in the Toorongo, Loch and Tanjil rivers and in the upper reaches of the Tarago River around the Neerim district downstream of the reservoir and above the reservoir.
The Latrobe River has a nice tannin colour about it and as you get closer to farmland around the Labertouche area, the Tarago River and upstream of the Bunyip River are also displaying a nice dark tannin colour. Shady Creek, Moe River and going further into South Gippsland the rivers like the Lang Lang River and downstream of the Bunyip River are very dirty due to the many tributaries feeding these rivers carrying deposits from farmland.
The strong flows make fishing difficult, as spinners, hardbodied lures, soft plastics and even drifting live baits like worms are hard to cast upstream as you battle to retrieve the lures and baits back quick enough with the flow. Casting downstream is difficult as the turbulence and strong currents make it hard to retrieve against the flow.
The smaller the stream the harder the fishing as rivers like the Toorongo, Loch, Tanjil, and downstream of the Tarago and Bunyip Rivers are all flowing hard, making it difficult to find nice slow flowing pools to cast in to.
I had more luck fishing the Latrobe River, as this is a much wider river making the currents and turbulence easier than smaller streams. I was able to work the lures and soft plastics a lot better and even use the currents and turbulence to my advantage. A lure cast downstream and retrieved back upstream tends to be pushed out of the current and into the backwaters which is the small narrow section of slow flowing water moving back upstream along the bank.
When rivers flood and the flow becomes a lot stronger, trout will sit in the path of least resistance so that they don’t expel all their energy feeding. They’ll sit behind large rocks in the flow’s path that gives them protection or they’ll sit in the backwater close to the bank.
Often the backwater along the bank has a cutting or a ledge, which in many cases has aquatic vegetation growing on the water surface also giving protection to a feeding trout. Casting the lure and letting the strong flows push the lure into the backwater allows you to enter the strike zone and retrieve the lure past these cuttings and ledges. Trout will be patrolling these cuttings and coming out when striking at potential feed that flows past in the current. I was able to get four trout to strike using this technique but unfortunately fighting a fish upstream in a strong current is no easy task, consequently I dropped four trout. The biggest was about 45cm, whilst the other three ranged from 20-30cm.
The signs are looking very promising as the rivers are now well and truly topped up with plenty of feed flowing downstream into the mouths of hungry patiently waiting trout. The streams will recede the further we get into spring making the fishing more accessible and rewarding as the trout will be stacking on the weight after a long spawning season.
Once the rivers drop, all techniques including nymphing will once again be fruitful but in the meantime use soft plastics in the form of grubs with a wriggling tail, hardbodied lures with small bibs and live bait drifted downstream worked close to the bank.
Feel free to send me a report or photo particularly if you have any success stories from the start of the trout season and please email me any questions. Happy fishing!
The author battling the strong flows trying to catch an early season trout.Reads: 1211