Prepare now for season ahead
  |  First Published: July 2011

The West and South Gippsland regions are experiencing a cold and wet winter, which farmers describe as a typical winter many years ago.

The rivers are flowing strong with icy water and the backdrop of bushland, forest and farmland is dull, damp and uninviting. With the season well and truly closed now till the 3rd of September, now is the perfect time to prepare for what should be a terrific season ahead.

Whilst the conditions aren’t favourable for us stream trout anglers, trout on the other hand would be benefitting from strong clear flows and cold water providing ideal conditions for spawning, probably the best in many years! Hence, we have a great season ahead of us.

So what sort of preparations can we do in the meantime? First thing is check and clean all the gear. I know from personal experience my waders are looking more like a block of Swiss cheese and need some serious TLC. Hopping over barbed wire fences, trekking through dense vegetation and river snags has taken its toll on my PVC waders. This upcoming season might be their last before I retire them and invest in some tougher material waders.

I’ll also be replacing my line on the spool. Because I use light outfits, one of my reels is a size 1500 and now doesn’t hold much 8lb monofilament line after tying umpteenth rigs in the last season. Running the line through my fingers, I can also feel plenty of nicks and weak points which wouldn’t hold up to a big brown September trout.

For the fly angler, check the backing line and fly line for cracks along with replacing leader and tippet lines. Next thing would be to sort out the tackle. A good practice is to perform a stock take, making note of what needs replacing. Soft plastics can date after a while losing their flexibility; hardbodied lures may have blunt treble hooks and flies may need replacing due to general wear and tear.

A great way to spend the lead up month to the season re-opening is to stroll the streams minus the rod in hand and study the stretches of water you are going to fish in the new season. Rivers and their tributaries are looking very different to what they did 12 months ago with a huge amount of rainfall and water passing through these streams, snags and sediment have shifted opening up new trout feeding zones and closing up others. The bug life on the water will also be different leading up to a new spring, so study what insects are about so that you can make or buy flies to match the hatch.

Regular local correspondent, Matt Eyles has been having a lot of success on big stream brown trout in the last season and is very much looking forward to the season ahead. Matt caught a couple of big browns and a personal favourite tipping the scales at 2kg when the season opened in September last year using a Royal Coachman fly.

The end of daylight savings and longer fishing hours didn’t deter Matt and the lead up to the closure of the season in June saw him have a productive dusk-to-dark adventure. Thinking that the season was over after a few dismal trips in late April, Matt almost gave up on his favourite stretch of river but just as he called it a night, a large rise from his favourite pool got the heart racing.

Using a Muddler minnow fly and after a few-failed hook-ups and a tense battle to the bank he managed to land a big brown weighing in excess of 1.5kg. Matt reports that many of the fish he has caught last season have full stomachs of nymphs, snails, aquatic insects and other small fish. Another technique he has been using to catch these big stream trout is using an unweighted soft plastic with dry fly oil or greased up line so that it skims the surface.

Matt also notes that if you want to catch a monster trout, fish at dusk till nightfall and wait for the fish to show themselves before casting at them.

Feel free to send me a report or photo particularly if you have any success stories just before the closure of the trout season or if you have been targeting eel and blackfish. Please email me any questions too. Happy fishing!

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