October on the Derwent can be a dynamite time if you strike active fish feeding solidly on schools of whitebait.
In recent years we haven’t seen any large scales runs but there have been sufficient schools to attract trout.
The settled weather of October begins to offer some lovely evenings on the Derwent. Daylight savings extends the evenings out and you can even start to get in a few hours fishing after work. It’s these times I tend to find very satisfying and successful, more often than not you are the only boat on the river on a week night. The calm evenings and a dropping tide do little to hide the frenzied feeding trout on the channel and reed edges of the main river above the Bridgewater Bridge, my favoured haunts in October.
There are also the tail end of the cockchafer beetles falling on the water. Just a quick tip, searun trout on the dry fly is a real option in the Derwent. Not many places in the world would offer that sort of fishing.
Starting to appear toward the end of the month like clockwork are the scores of small, just legal size trout. Each and every year they show in these mid-tidal reaches and extend through to New Norfolk. They can be a real pain on the days when they bigger fish are slow to the lures. I like to fish a quite clear-bodied lures at this time of the year as the water is usually very clean and a lot of bait is present and it’s on the trouts menu.
If you come across some feeding fish and each school of bait usually has more than one fish on it I tend to throw something bigger than the bait school itself. My theory is that the bigger baitfish in the school is seen by the trout and nailed before something else can eat it. It can be very hard and frustrating to keep casting a 40-50mm lure into a school of 5,000 white bait hoping to get a take.
I also tend to make a few trips to the water at New Norfolk in October. There are always good numbers of bait around the town and the overhanging willows above the bridge offers plenty of cover. I tend to fish the shallower shores around the Shingles and up to the big bend. There is lots of fun to be had here with smaller fish to 700g or so with the odd solid trout amongst them.
The Derwent’s tributaries are looking pretty good options about now. The minor flooding of August will have moved fish about and they will be settling into new holes. It’s a great time to target these smaller rivers like the Styx and the Plenty. We all know how the Tyenna can fish and just what it can produce.
After it too was affected by lots of rain falling in the catchment early in the season, anglers will be making the most of the conducive levels before the low flows of summer make things more difficult. The regular devotees sure know where to find them year round, but October is a good time for a visit for the rest of us.
Craigbourne Dam has continued to see regular stockings and will keep giving up fish for some time. Levels got back to something more reasonable after some shockingly low levels seen in winter. IFS officers have been policing the area in the early season, which has been well received by law abiding anglers.
Lake Pedder is now on the radar too. The weather is warming and moving through October to November probably proving some of the best trolling conditions and returns from this once iconic water. It’s a phenomenal fishery offering something for every angler.
It’s well worth the trip for the scenery alone. If you get a still spring day you’ll need a good sized memory card to fit the shots on to.Reads: 1460