Another stream trout season comes to an end following a year of highs and lows.
Reflecting back on the year that was, we had a very wet winter for 2012 which came to an end in August leading to well-below average rainfalls ever since in this region. We never had a true autumn break this year which is required to top up all the streams after a long hot summer. And we all know that with good rainfall comes good food that ends up washing into the system into the mouths of hungry fish. So we all hope that by the time the trout season re-opens in September, they’ve had a successful spawn and things start to look up again.
In reflection, the lows have mainly been that stream trout are a little few and far between compared to the last few seasons. Anglers have had to work much harder in the usual popular streams like the Latrobe, Toorongo, Tanjil, Tarago and Bunyip rivers. By working harder, anglers have been walking or wading further for a hook-up, constantly changing gear and techniques. Access to the streamside in some old popular spots have been harder due to natural barriers of overgrown thickets of blackberry such as in the Tanjil River below Tanjil Bren.
The highs have been that the rather impressive sizes of rainbow and brown trout. While there are fewer of them, they must still be finding a decent feed somewhere. It may also be suggested that because anglers have ventured further afield the size of the fish increases. We just have to look at John Van Berlo and Graeme Dowsett’s catch just before the end of this year’s trout season for that theory to be true.
John and his mate from Warragul, have been regular anglers in the region and finally felt they had a photo of a stream trout worth publishing. They were fishing a secret stretch of the Tanjil River, which is described as well off the beaten track. Graeme was casting a Mepps spinning bladed lure when he had a huge hit and suddenly the line began pulling. As they got the fish closer to the bank it became obvious this was no tiddly trout and just as the trout spat the hook, John dived on to the fish managing to hold on to it and get it on the bank safely. It was by far the biggest fish the pair had caught in West Gippsland. The condition of the 3kg trophy fish was poor as they believed it was ‘spent’ hence the reason why the kept it. Following their excitement they returned to the same stretch a week or so later and caught and released seven rainbow trout, the largest being about 500g.
What to do now the stream trout season has closed? Well for those who still want to fish the streams, eel and blackfish are the main targets over winter. There are some good-sized eels around which are delicious smoked and good fun to catch. Like blackfish, they are ambush predators and it’s often hard to set the hook but once you do its game on.
Both species hang out in dark deep slow moving pools of the river and the best technique is a worm dangling under a float, making sure the worm is just off the bottom of the streambed. If the conditions suit, a light running sinker rig also works but make sure there are few snags in the water.
Blue Rock Lake is another option and fishes really well for trout and redfin this time of the year. Over summer the place is overridden by carp (which are good fun mind you) but in the colder months trout take over and are great fun to catch from the banks or on the boat.
Trolling lures, bait fishing, flyfishing and casting lures are all popular techniques. Sizes typically don’t go beyond 30-40cm for both rainbow and brown trout in the lake but there are some very big trout out there so you just never know.
Feel free to email me any reports, questions and photos, particularly if you have had any luck over winter at Blue Rock Lake. Happy fishing!
A joint catch between John Van Berlo and Graeme Dowsett with a 3kg trophy fish from the Tanjil. This fish was caught post spawn as it was spent and in poor condition. Still a lovely fish though.Reads: 1541