The month of July can sort out the men from the boys in the fishing department around these parts. The weather can be brutal at times so dressing correctly is the key. There are some very innovative products out there so you don’t necessarily have to feel like you have half your wardrobe on. Do your research, buy the best you can afford and you’ll be staying out there comfortable and warm when everyone else is heading home. You don’t catch fish in your lounge room.
A day comes to mind not so long ago up at TCD (Thompsons Creek Dam). It was an early blast from the deep south, with a huge low pressure system pushing up, dropping snow and temperatures as it went. The wind was incredible. I was fishing with my son Murray, and at one stage I turned around to see him almost get blown off his feet. We were catching fish though… good ones. However, Murray’s clothing was not quite up to scratch and an hour in he was pleading with me to go home. You will not get anyone keener than Muz so he must have been feeling really cold. I was warm as toast and keen to stay, but I eventually relented and we headed off.
For most anglers TCD can be a very frustrating place to fish at this time of year. You can see big rainbow trout cruising past in plain view most of the time, the water is crystal clear with 10/15ft visibility, and you throw everything at them for no result.
There are a few little factors that can make a difference on the tough days though. One way is to forget about the rainbows.
“What?” I hear you say. “This guy is nuts!”
Seriously though, there is a good population of very healthy brown trout in the dam that are not in the same spawning realm as the rainbows. You can use different tactics to target the browns, and the added bonus is you may just catch a rainbow trout in a late pre-spawn. By switching over to small micro soft plastics and fishing slow near the bottom you will catch some good post-spawn hungry browns.
If you really want to stick with those big, dark, hook jaw rainbows, there are a few things you can try. Low light, light line (as light as you dare) long leaders, staying low and concealed, mid-week, crappy weather… these are just a few things that might throw the odds in your favour.
Lures to use can vary greatly. The fish can do some pretty silly things at times. Sometimes you’re like, “I have tried everything in my box, there is no way they are going to grab this.” The next thing you’re on!
Flyfishing for them is possibly the most consistent way to target these fish. The ability of the fly rod to deliver such a small offering in a delicate presentation has no parallel (in the right hands). Remember most of these fish are in full-on spawning mode and are eating very little. Sometimes though they can be very aggressive towards bigger presentations so keep this in mind.
Our other northern hemisphere winter species are well suited to the colder water temperatures, and I really enjoy my winter sorties on the redfin. The numbers are way down but the size of some of the fish can well and truly make up for it. You’ll find that 40cm+ models give a good account of themselves on light gear and their table quality is second to none in the freshwater stakes.
Something that floats – whether it be a boat, tub, yak or canoe – with a good sounder is a big plus. This allows you to troll to find any concentrations of fish and then target them. If the fish are scattered it’s possibly best to leave the trolling lures out. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Redfin tend to be pelagic in nature, happily swimming out in open water. Having said that, some bigger specimens will come off some drowned trees and structure so keep this in mind.
Running a good spread of lures that are all running at different depths is good early on. Once you can see a level that is holding more fish, switch over and target this depth. Extra deep small crankbaits can be deadly. If you can find some that are 50/60mm in length but still get to 4-5m you are on the money.
Running next gen thin braid right to the lure can also squeeze another meter or so out of most lures. Visibility at this depth is limited and the line doesn’t seem to deter to many fish. It’s a reaction strike as the lure trundles past, most times.
Soft bodied lipless crankbaits can be good on loose groups of bigger fish. Lob the lure out there, let it get down to depth and work it vigorously up and down but stay semi-connected to the lure on the drop. By that I mean just a small amount of slack line. If the line tics jumps sideways rear back and set the hook. These loose groups are generally better quality fish and I think the competition between them for food is high.
I hope to see you on the water soon, and until then tight lines.Reads: 762