Hurry in for pre-spawn trout
  |  First Published: May 2014

May is the last full month of stream trout fishing as the trout season closes on midnight Monday 9 June and won’t reopen until midnight Friday 5 September.

We should expect to see good numbers of hungry trout heading upstream in all the rivers and streams in West and South Gippsland as they prepare to spawn.

We can expect to see trout moving upstream to their breeding grounds during May and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if many even start spawning mid-month. Stumbling on to a spawning ground is a great spectacle for any keen trout angler and if the stream trout are feeding, then it can be a lot of fun for those who catch and release. I’ve come across a few spawning grounds off the beaten track and it can be quite mesmerising just sitting back watching them do their thing. Most of the time they’re not interested in feeding, so throwing a fly, lure or bait is pointless.

Finding a spawning ground does however present an opportunity to bring out the worst in people. Most anglers you would think are aware of the dos and don’ts, yet there are always a few who take advantage of a situation like this knowing full well that enforcement is under-resourced. I’ve heard horror stories in recent times of people shooting, spearing and netting trout on spawning grounds across the region. If you do happen to stumble across any illegal activity, be discrete and contact 13 FISH.

May could be an interesting month with daily temperatures already very cool, so you may find trout already heading upstream to spawn. This happened last year and by mid-May it was interesting to watch their behaviours. The trout were impossible to catch as their focus shifted from feeding to spawning. Live baits, like garden or scrubworms, were favoured over lures or fly; when trout are in this mindset, the bait almost needs to be presented right in front of their mouths. It is a must that trout are returned immediately to continue doing what they’re doing or if you are really concerned, just watch them and enjoy.

Not all is doom and gloom with the wind up of the stream trout fishing season for another year. Eel and blackfish are still good targets in all of the streams around West and South Gippsland and provide a lot of fun for anglers of all ages using light gear.

Blackfish and eel can be caught using the same techniques. A 6-7ft rod with a 1500-2500 class reel spooled with 2-3kg line is a good starting point and use garden worms fished just off the bottom of the stream bed. Use a running sinker or large split shot attached just up the line from a size 6 or 8 baitholder hook.

If there are plenty of snags in the section of stream you are fishing use a bubble, ball or stick float to keep your bait just off the bottom. Eel and blackfish prefer dark, slow flowing to still water and love structure like logs and overhanging boulders and rocks. Eel in these streams commonly grow to 60-70cm and blackfish are commonly caught around the 150-400g mark with larger specimens to well over 1kg being caught in difficult-to-access and larger pools of water. Both species are often targeted late afternoon and into the evening, but on a winter’s day where there is little sunshine, many streams in the hills are fairly dark during the day and both eel and blackfish will be feeding.

Feel free to send me a report or photo particularly if you have any success stories before the closure of the trout season or targeting eel and blackfish and please email me any questions. Happy fishing!

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