Catch and Release before season ends
  |  First Published: May 2012

May presents the last full month of stream trout fishing for the 2011/12 season in the West and South Gippsland regions.

A reminder that the season closes on midnight June 11 and that anglers who spot illegal activity should call 13 FISH.

Because of the solid autumn rains, we can expect to see trout moving upstream to their breeding grounds during May and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many even start spawning mid-month. Whilst this is a great spectacle for keen trout anglers and a lot of fun for those practicing catch and release, it does present an opportunity to bring out the worst in the ‘not-so-sustainable’ trout anglers.

It can be heartbreaking to hear people taking home big fish that have the capabilities of producing a large amount of offspring; and we all know that a large amount of offspring means a fun trout season ahead and it secures the future of many trout seasons to come.

The perception of ‘what is a big stream trout?’ can be so variable amongst anglers. Regular stream trout anglers would know that anything in excess of 500g is considered quite big. The real test of what is a big stream trout comes down to the fish’s habitat and this needs to be considered when deciding what fish to take home for the dinner plate and what fish to release back in order to sustain the population.

A big trout in a tiny stream less than 0.5m wide with shallow pools and shallow runs may be considered at 400g or 30cm long. A big trout in a much larger stream with constant strong flows and deep pools may be considered in excess of 1kg or 45cm long. A big stream trout like that around the west/south Gippsland region cannot be comparable to that of a lake trout or of a stocked stream trout north of the Dividing Ranges which grow much larger.

The trout found in this region are not stocked by Victorian Fisheries but are wild stocks from stocking programs many, many years ago. To continue enjoying stream trout for years to come, we must release our bigger fish.

The key rivers to fish this month will be the Latrobe between Noojee and Powelltown, Tarago around Drouin West, Toorongo upstream towards the Toorongo River Camp Ground and the Tanjil River above Blue Rock Lake heading up to Tanjil Bren. Other rivers also worth exploring include the upper reaches of the Loch River, Bunyip River and Lang Lang.

Techniques range from spinner-bladed lures and hardbodied floating minnow lures in gold or silver pattern for the lure angler and the classic nymph with a brass bead and black body do wonders for the fly angler. As trout shift their focus from feeding to spawning, small soft plastics on very light jig heads and live baits like scrub or garden worms work well at enticing pre-occupied trout. The key to catching and releasing a trout just prior or post-spawn is to sight fish and make sure the bait or lure is presented right in front of them.

A fish just prior to spawn is still very active so be sure not to spook them but a fish post-spawn can often be tired and lethargic; a little easier to sneak up on, yet still give a good fight!

Blue Rock Lake

May is also a great time to hit Blue Rock Lake by land or by boat, especially when the trout go quiet in the rivers. The water levels are at 100% so there is an abundance of food around the shoreline for trout. This is ideal for bait, lure and fly anglers wishing to fish from the bank. Even if you have a boat, direct your efforts towards the shoreline.

A popular technique for calm May days is to drift and cast a dry fly towards the bank. Trolling and float fishing also produce good numbers of early winter fish. Something that bank anglers do need to be aware of is to make sure they leave their spot tidy and litter-free for the next angler to enjoy.

Feel free to send me a report or photo and happy to answer any questions too. Happy fishing!

Cate Haughton with a 3kg+ carp caught at Blue Rock near the wall. This fish was caught on worm and put up an amazing fight in the deep water; for a little while the fish made Cate think it was a trophy trout!

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