Crays and bass are the hits for summer
  |  First Published: February 2013

This year’s stream trout season has been one of the best in many years but we mustn’t forget some of the other target species anglers have been having fun catching in recent months in the West and South Gippsland Region.

Besides the popular stream brown and rainbow trout, other species that call these streams home include native species like the Gippsland spiny freshwater crayfish, river blackfish and short-finned eel as well as your usual suspect exotic species including carp and redfin.

At Blue Rock Lake, anglers have been enjoying the success of the Australian bass stocking programs which have offered an exciting new target species in addition to trout. Other target fish in the lake include redfin and large carp, which I’ve overheard many refer to as the ‘best and cleanest carp in Victoria’.

Gippsland spiny freshwater crayfish are prehistoric looking creatures that occupy many of the streams and farm drains throughout the region. I’ve seen them up to 2.5kg (17cm+ carapace) but expect to catch them much smaller around the 7-11cm carapace range. Remember that there is a size limit of 9cm for the carapace or main body shell and the bag limit is 5.

They prefer slow moving water with plenty of stream bed structure like submerged timber, rocks or grass ledges to hide under. They really are a fascinating creature and great fun for the family to catch and release. The method is simple, either using hoop nets (not yabby pots/opera-house ) or have a bit more fun with baited lines. With the hoop nets, place a bit of meat tied to the centre and drop into a slow moving section of stream, preferably close to the bank and where there is structure.

With baited lines, tie a chunk of meat (no fat as fat floats) to the line and drop into a similar position as described with placing a hoop net. Make sure you have a small landing net handy when using a line so that you can scoop the crayfish up; always place the net behind the crayfish as they move backwards.

Recently Graham Tomkin had a lot of luck in a special location in the Neerim District. He caught five crayfish, releasing back four and all were a good size. His method was simple; lamb leg as bait on lines and a bit of patience (and a frothy).

Around the same time, Lisa Cowburn and three friends Dave, Leigh and Ron caught nine crayfish in another secret location, this time closer to Drouin. They released five and kept one each to take home, once again all of a good legal size and these were caught on chicken neck tied to string.

Lately the Lang Lang has been producing good numbers of redfin and quite good sizes too. Anglers having the luck have been using worms as bait fished off the bottom or have been playing around with soft plastics and spinner-bladed lures. Redfin are active feeders so they will take most things you cast at them.

Access and fishing is best achieved under the many road crossing bridges so look up a map before leaving to choose your spots.

Great news for Gippsland anglers is the release of more bass throughout Gippsland waters as part of the Fisheries Victoria program. Following successful bass stocking programs on a number of waterways throughout Gippsland, funding was made available to recently release another 15,000 fingerlings into Blue Rock as well as other locations further east. With recent captures of bass around the 17cm-20cm mark, we can only imagine the fun many anglers will have in the future.

The Tarago River downstream of the reservoir is now receiving its summer regulated flow, which has meant the river has slowed right down and not ideal for active feeding trout. Trout will still be found in the deeper pools but the exposed gravel beds will probably be ‘troutless’ until mid-autumn when they release more water again.

Other rivers however are doing well and my hot tips for the coming month are the Bunyip and Tanjil rivers which have been flowing hard over winter but should have slowed down by now and more appealing for wading anglers.

Keep those reports and photos coming in and feel free to email me any questions. Happy fishing!

Graham Tomkin’s pair of crayfish posing for a photo before being released into his secret location. Check out the beautiful colours and body armour.

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