Holiday Fishing Fun
  |  First Published: December 2011

The school holidays make a perfect opportunity to take the kids out for a day trip and catch a stream trout.

The beauty of West Gippsland is that it is so close to Melbourne, yet far away enough to feel like you’ve left the hustle and bustle. Set amongst farmland, native bushland and small country towns are the peaceful flowing streams of the Latrobe, Toorongo, and Loch rivers in the Noojee Valley and the Tarago River which flows from Neerim South down to Labertouche.

In Noojee you have a choice of three rivers to fish from but the most family friendly spots are dotted along the Latrobe River in town. There is a large playground (good back-up), toilets, undercover rotunda with free BBQ’s and large picnic tables enough to fit a few families. Upstream from the main picnic area are plenty of small picnic tables and car parks close to the water.

Access to the Latrobe River is ideal for children wanting to wet a line and for the big kid at heart, the river presents ideal wading conditions to maximise fishing ground. There are a number of techniques for trout fishing but for the beginner, a light 6-7ft rod with a small 1000-2500 size reel spooled with 8lb line set up with a bottom fishing rig is a good start.

To fish off the bottom put a small ball or bean sinker 40cm up the line held in place by a swivel or split ring, tying a leader using the same class line with a size 4-8 baitholder hook. Garden worms are a bulletproof bait and are easy for kids to put on the hook themselves. Cast into slow moving pools and allow the bait to rest. Put the rod in a rod holder and attach a bell to indicate a bite.

Older children however love to be doing something all the time otherwise they get bored so rig them up a spinner-bladed lure, minnow styled floating hardbodied lure or soft plastic with a wriggle tail and let them cast and retrieve at pools and runs in the stream. Even if they are unable to hook into something, often a trout will follow the lure in which can be enough to get children excited and up skill themselves with the art of casting and retrieving lures.

Therefore it is important to teach children to always watch the lure as they retrieve so that it not only helps them practice to play with the movement and presentation of the lure, but it allows them to spot attracted fish. Drifting baits is a very similar technique to casting lures and the same principles would apply.

From Neerim South through to Labertouche runs the Tarago River downstream of the Tarago Reservoir. There are three main picnic grounds along this river which off terrific stream access and car parks. Starting upstream, Rokeby Reserve is a recently updated reserve that requires a small walk from the main road but offers picnic tables alongside the river. Fisher Road Reserve at Robin Hood offers a rotunda, cooking facilities and picnic tables also alongside the river.

On a hot day the kids can even go for a swim in the deep sandy pool after they’ve had a fish.

Typically trout average around 200-400g along these popular family fishing spots but trout move up and down the river all the time and some much bigger fish have been caught at these spots. On light gear, a small stream trout puts up a great little fight as you battle against fish, stream flow and snags.

A free new Fishing in Baw Baw map booklet is now available through the Baw Baw Shire Council. Either contact me or contact the Shire for a free hardcopy or simply download it from their website. The map booklets are water and tear resistant and feature a map highlighting family friendly fishing spots with picnic tables, BBQ’s, toilets and good fishing access points in the Baw Baw Shire. It also features basic fishing techniques and regulatory information to help you catch a fish and do the right thing by the environment.

The river blackfish season has re-opened for the year and offers an alternative target species to trout in these rivers. 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.

Joe Magyar with a monster 7lb brown trout taken out of the Tanjil River using a Berkley 3” Pearl Minnow. These are the fish you can catch if you are prepared to walk off the beaten track!

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