Festive Season Fishing
  |  First Published: December 2011

With Christmas and another New Year only around the corner, it’s time to get in a stream trout fishing session before the festive season begins and 2011 slips away.

December will be an exciting time for stream trout anglers as there have been masses of insect hatches over the last month or so, providing the main food source for surface feeding trout. Surface feeding fish means anglers can spot their target and approach carefully, resulting in more strikes and ultimately more fish. Sight fishing in the streams around West and South Gippsland adds a whole new dimension to stream trout fishing and really intensifies that adrenalin rush.

Most of the hatching insects have been flying ants, various fly or midge species and small black beetles. If you take along with you an assortment of flies mimicking the local hatches on your next fishing expedition then you are sure to have some luck.

Remember matching the hatch increases those chances but don’t shy away from bright coloured larger flies or beaded nymphs, as these too can be very useful to have in the fly box. Darker water or water that is shadowed out by the surrounding steep hills, dirtier water, faster flowing runs that could possibly hold trout are all reasons that you would consider changing from a ‘natural’ looking fly to something that screams “look at me!”

The key rivers for fly anglers looking at wading and overhead casting or flicking are the Toorongo, Tarago and Latrobe rivers. The whole stretch of the Toorongo River meanders through farmland and generally only has bank vegetation on the far bank, therefore reducing the risks of annoying snags and tangles.

There is great access to the river for most part and if you combine wading and strolling the bank then you can cover some fair territory in a couple of hours. The Tarago has many sections meandering through farmland below Neerim South right through to Labertouche which, like the Toorongo, opens up a lot of potential fishing ground. The Latrobe around Noojee however is well vegetated on either side but is a wide river allowing you to wade for many sections and freely be able to cast without too many problems.

Lures such as spinner blades, hardbodies and soft plastics are also productive methods for getting into the trout action this summer. Lure fishing for trout is a great way to kill a few hours on the weekend or sneak in a fish after work. The beauty about lure fishing for stream trout is that not one brand or specific type of lure works best over something else.

If it moves and trout see it then they usually strike. Revolving blade lures, floating hardbodied lures and soft plastics all offer unique movement in the water when retrieved which will get any stream trout excited. The lures are mimicking small fish and aquatic invertebrates that provide a staple diet for these fish.

A mate of mine, Neil Leggett took his son Max out recently for a Sunday afternoon fish along the Tarago River using very light gear rigged with a small spinner bladed lure. Strolling the bank using the bankside vegetation as cover to not spook any fish, he was able to catch and release a number of brown trout around 300g.

After catching a few small fish, Neil stumbled across a much larger specimen feeding amongst some willow tree roots in a deeper pool. On the first and second casts he was able to get a strike but worried that he would spook the fish, he moved on and fished another pool only to return 15 minutes later to try his luck again.

Once again, first cast and the big brown had another go at the spinner. Second cast and this time the fish had a fair dinkum smash at the lure and it was hooked! Neil scrambled over logs to get closer to the water and the fish surfaced splashing about and flashing it’s beautiful deep golden skin with deep red and black spots. Neil said his heart was racing but unfortunately the stream flow was racing too and with one roll against the current the hook slipped and the fish was free. Thankfully Neil and Max both had a chance to get a good look at this healthy stream trout which Neil reckons was around 1.5kg making it a trophy fish for these rivers. Now he knows where it is, he’ll certainly be having another crack in the not too distant future.

The river blackfish season re-opens at the end of the month and offers another target species for these rivers. The Tanjil River will start fishing really well as the stream flows slowdown in the coming months. 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!

Max Leggett proudly holding one of his dad’s catches on the Tarago River, which is holding plenty of similar-sized fish.

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