Monster trout will have to wait
  |  First Published: July 2008

Sitting around at work after a big lunch, my work colleagues were discussing how to work off their lunch. Going to the gym was the predictable answer until I interrupted and told them I was heading to the Tarago and Latrobe rivers after work to have a fish.

After about 10 minutes of laughter and copping some friendly flak, I explained that despite what they thought, this style of fishing doesn’t involve setting up a deck chair, casting out a line and emptying an esky.

The more I thought about it, there was no better way to spend a couple of hours after work than strolling along a river bank wetting a line. I’d rather work up a sweat walking a few kilometres with a fishing rod, than be sweating it out on a treadmill in a gym.

The point is that if you are a health conscious angler, then West Gippsland is the place for you. Trekking through forest and scrub, strolling through farmland or wading a stream chasing trout and blackfish can offer you a good workout.

In late May, I decided to wet my favourite trout lures one more time before closing the tackle box on them for a few months. I headed straight to the Tarago River where good rains provided strong flows and had filled up my beloved fishing holes. Happily I was also greeted by some monster brown trout splashing around. I was set for a memorable afternoon.

I caught and released 19 brown trout, ranging from 400-800g. Many were females. I varied my lures from the trusty F5 Rapala Minnow in bright orange to a bright pink soft plastic grub on a size 6 hook. I used bright colours, as the sunlight was poor and I wanted something to stand out in the water. I took home two trout of 900g and 1.2kg.

It is important to release the female fish back unharmed. If the trout’s gut feels larger than normal, this can indicate that the trout is a female and is carrying eggs.

During one of my fishing trips to the Tarago River during late May it was great to see Fisheries Officers patrolling the area. Officer Eric Wiseman highlighted that "The closed season has been imposed to protect the trout during the spawning season when the fish are at their most vulnerable. It is a reminder to all anglers that it is an offence to take or possess trout during this period. People found offending face fines up to $10,000. Fisheries Officers will be actively patrolling rivers and streams in the area throughout the closed season for trout. Members of the public who observe any suspected illegal fishing activity are reminded to call 13FISH (133 474) at any time, seven days a week." This is a positive message for the future and sustainability of trout angling in this region.

But that is enough about trout for now. Just writing about them is getting me worked up for the trout season opener - still another two months away!

Until Saturday September 6, blackfish are a great alternative. Chasing blackfish requires stealth and patience. Garden worms are the best bait, fished under a float or drifted along the bottom weighted with a few split shot above a size 6-8 baitholder hook. Don’t be scared to try other live baits as well, like crickets, grubs, maggots and even small yabbies.

Deep, dark pools are the most productive. Drop or cast the bait against rock shelves, boulders and other structures that would provide blackfish habitat. The Tarago, Toorongo, Bunyip and Latrobe rivers are historically the most popular destinations for anglers targeting blackfish. Nightfall is the best time to hook into a blackfish so pack a flask, take a lantern and slip on your thermals. Remember to only take what you need.

Happy fishing and please don’t hesitate to email me any questions, reports or photos.

This is what we have to look forward to come September. Three lovely keepers caught on a Crown Seal lure in the Latrobe River near Noojee in late May.

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