Rain wont stop play
  |  First Published: September 2011

September 3 sees the season re-open and while there won’t be any fireworks and huge public celebrations, there will be a lot of happy stream trout anglers walking around with a smile on their face.

Another wet winter passes with streams in West and South Gippsland flowing at their peak. With all this water in the catchments you can’t help but think of the big stream trout calling these rivers home.

Icy strong flowing water has made for another top spawning season (on the back of the good 2010 season) for these wild stream trout. The amount of food in the system is incredible so we should expect great growth rates of last year’s yearlings this open season. Stream trout growth rates are much different to their lake-bred cousins.

In a lake, trout don’t have the competition for food and space like they do a in a stream. A lake trout in 12 months can quite easily grow to 1kg and in 3 years can grow beyond 2.5kg, providing of course a good food source is available. In a stream, food is scarcer, stream trout use a lot more energy in the hunt for food and they inhabit smaller areas of water.

A 12-month-old stream trout can grow to 350g and could maintain that weight for its life dependable on its environment. In a year like this, we should see staggering trout growth rates as there is an abundance of food and the rivers are carrying larger volumes of water comparable to 3 years ago. Expect this season to catch stream trout above 500g with many surprise fish pushing 1kg. These size fish on light gear in fast flowing water is a lot of fun and addictive! Like always, the stretches of river that have less human traffic will always have the bigger fish.

Fishing fast flowing water is always a challenge, especially when using lures and fly. Retrieving lures, particularly bladed lures and hardbodied lures with a bib is difficult against or with the flow. Flicking a beaded nymph will also be difficult at this time of the year as it rises up to the surface with the strong flows and out of the strike zone.

Lure and fly anglers will have their work cut out for them as they search and concentrate on slower flowing stretches of stream. Working the river bends where the flow slows down will be the best option for the start of the open season. Soft plastics cast close to the bank on straight sections of river will work well as you generally have a bit of backwater right up along the bank. You may have to increase the weight of the jig heads to combat the flow of the water.

The opening of the season is a great time to get back to basics using baits for stream trout. At this time of the year artificial baits with hormone and scent added attractants are very productive on stream trout. Live baits like garden or scrub worms also work a treat and if fishing two rods, it’s well worth having a line out with an artificial and live bait fished in small pools with backwater or in river bends. Once the line is cast and the rod put into a rod holder, it is important to stand well back and keep activity well away from the water’s edge so that you don’t spook any interested fish.

This is a great time of the year to teach the family the basics of stream trout fishing as there will be plenty of fish swimming around. The Tarago River around Drouin West and the Latrobe River in Noojee are the best family fishing spots offering picnic, toilet and BBQ facilities with fantastic access to the river. The Loch and Toorongo rivers are flowing well and you should expect another great season ahead from these consistent performing rivers. The Tanjil River which is a bit further out from Noojee is well worth the travel but best fished in early summer right through to next year. The strong flows and snow melt from Mt Baw Baw make fishing very difficult at this time of the year.

The river blackfish season closes for the south of the Great Dividing Range is the 1st of September and re-opens on January 1 2012.

Feel free to send me a report or photo particularly if you have any success stories from the opening of the trout season. Please email me any questions too. Happy fishing!

A nice River blackfish caught and released in the Tarago River using garden worm under a bubble float fished on dusk.

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