March is the last full month of daylight savings before it ends on April 7, so now is ideal time to sneak a fish in after work and make use of the longer daylight hours.
A long hot summer comes to an end and now we wait for the autumn break that should hopefully top up our tributaries and provide more food for hungry stream trout.
In February and into early March, trout gorge themselves on grasshoppers and locusts so now is the perfect time to flick about a fly, soft plastic or spinner bladed lure imitating a hopper. As the hoppers migrate during hatching and breeding, many fall into the path of crystal clear flowing streams and this is where they become fair game for hungry trout.
Knowing how to read a stream is very important and being able to understand the trout feeding zone will help in making the most out of each cast and having more strikes. Trout generally face upstream in these small rivers awaiting food to come to them. Rivers like the upper Tanjil, Loch, Toorongo, upper Latrobe, Tarago and Bunyip are all perfect examples of moderate-fast flowing small streams where trout tend to wait for food rather than hunting for it.
Because of this feeding habit, they will try to minimise their energy use in the flowing water so they’ll sit behind rocks or other structure where there are small eddies or back currents.
The structure which they choose to sit will always be near a funnelled current of water, for example a gap between two structures where the water rushes through. When the water is funnelled through, this means that all food travelling downstream such as grasshopper comes through the same section of river which allows the trout to see the food and simply strike out from behind their position.
Trout are also easily spooked hence why they stick to structures, stay in the shadows and swim along the bank. Obviously in West Gippsland we don’t have grizzly bears, but birds of prey and cormorants find stream trout very tasty.
Casting or flicking at each potential trout feeding zone will be more successful than simply casting all over the place. Learning to read the stream allows you to sneak up on prime typical trout ground without spooking a fish so that you can get that perfect cast in and make it count. From personal experience, I tend to only cast 3-4 times at the same potential feeding zone then move on if nothing has a go. My reasoning is that I’ve probably either spooked the fish without even knowing it or a fish is simply not there and maybe up further.
The three rivers worth checking out over the coming month are the Bunyip, Tarago and Tanjil rivers. In the Bunyip fish the stretch between the Princes Highway heading south-west to Cora Lynn. This stretch isn’t really suited to waders and the banks are steep and difficult to access but with a bit of patience and the sense of adventure, you can get down to the river and fish some terrific sections with the potential to catch some decent stream browns.
In the Tarago, anywhere downstream of the reservoir will be hot to trot. Waders are necessary between Neerim South down to Drouin West, then its access via along the stream bank below Picnic Point, Drouin West.
The Tanjil, particularly the upper Tanjil River is unusually quiet at the moment but anywhere you can gain 4WD access between Blue Rock Lake to around the Icy Creek region will provide some good fun with both browns and rainbows ranging 300-600g.
Feel free to email me any reports, questions and photos, particularly if you have had any luck with Bass at Blue Rock over summer. Happy fishing!
Brad Creighton with his first stream trout. This brown was caught and released on a spinner bladed lure in the Tanjil River. Brad now admits he’s a bit of a stream trout addict since he caught this one.Reads: 724