Spring into stream trout and lake bass
  |  First Published: November 2012

It’s a typical spring in West and South Gippsland with plenty of rain, hail and shine.

Just to make it more interesting for anglers we’ve had some record breaking strong winds and you guessed it, more rain. But thankfully we have had some glorious days too with calm warm weather making it very inviting for a stream fish. The rivers are still flowing strongly but are surprisingly clean in West Gippsland despite the amount of rainfall we’ve had.

Streams in South Gippsland on the other hand are flowing very dirty with fluctuating water often breaking the banks into farmland.

Strong winds in early spring caused quite a bit of destruction throughout the region. Many trees either fell over or lost limbs, creating many new snags and fish habitats particularly along the Latrobe, Tarago, Bunyip and Lang Lang rivers. Many insects like grubs, beetles, bugs and caterpillars call a tree home, so when trees fall over into or across streams, there is often an abundance of food suddenly available to fish. A fallen tree also changes the stream conditions. Worst-case scenario is that a good stretch of stream becomes totally unfishable. But often a fallen tree creates new eddies and turbulence in the stream flow which opens up new trout feeding zones to target, thus creating new exciting challenges to anglers.

Waders or gumboots are a necessity for fishing the streams at the moment. Paddocks and stream banks are still sodden from a wet winter and with grass expected to grow nice and high this year in late spring, getting cold wet feet and legs isn’t much fun.

Late September saw the first hatch of flying white ants/termites, which is a sure thing to get fish and anglers excited. On two separate occasions I witnessed the feeding frenzy when the ants hatched on two warm stormy evenings. One hatch occurred on the Latrobe River and the other at Blue Rock Lake.

Both times it was amazing to see how many fish come to the surface to feed. On the Latrobe River, I was very surprised to see up to five separate trout feeding in the same pool. The browns were all less than 100g but it was exciting to see that we have had a few decent spawning seasons and that the rivers can sustain these populations.

Blue Rock Lake was also quite spectacular when the flying ants hatched. As each ant fell from the sky to the water surface, it was almost instantaneously met with breaking water, a slurp, then it vanished. Carp in the coves were responsible for some of the activity but there were also a lot of trout breaking the surface too and no doubt bass. Flyfishing is the best technique when fish are feeding like this and a dry fly mimicking a flying white ant is certainly going to attract some attention from trout.

An exciting event is being held later in the month and is a first for this region and must for all fly anglers. The event, Fly Fish Baw Baw is happening on November 23-25. Please check out the latest details on the event through the DPI Fisheries website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/flyfishbawbaw . In brief, the event is specially organised to promote flyfishing in Victoria and to encourage fly fishers to take advantage of the fantastic opportunities local rivers and streams have to offer in the Baw Baw region.

The event is being held at the Mt Baw Baw Resort and will feature structured activities both on and off the mountain that include an information night for visitors to get all the local knowledge from local anglers, fishing on local waters and an event trade fair with fly fishing identities, fly tying, family casting in purpose built ponds, local food and wine stalls and much more.

The event will be conducted in partnership with Fisheries Victoria, Mt Baw Baw Resort, VRFish and Baw Baw Shire Council.

Feel free to email me reports, photo or questions. Happy fishing!

Toby Eastburn with a small, yet hard fighting Australian bass caught on a Tassie Devil at Blue Rock Lake. This was just one of eight caught and released for the day. Great effort! This is more evidence these fish are doing well!

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