Stream trout alternatives
  |  First Published: July 2014

The streams of the West and South Gippsland regions are flowing well with winter rainfall hitting the catchments, which is providing trout with perfect conditions for spawning. A warm winter could suggest more food in the system so stream trout will be getting a good feed and improving their post-spawn condition.

While the trout season is closed, blackfish and eel are a fun stream fishing alternative to trout; the key is light gear and a change in technique.

The key spots to look out for along any stream are dark pools and deep holes that provide blackfish and eel the perfect habitat to feed and hide. They are ambush predators and can take their time before seizing a well-presented garden or scrub worm. By far this is the simplest bait to consider when fishing for these species and the rig/tackle required is just as simple.

The two easy methods are either fishing a worm under a float or fishing a worm off the bottom. Blackfish and eel rarely come up to the surface to feed so the target feeding zone is going to be at the stream bed in slow flowing, stagnant water or backwash.

Fishing off the bottom is an easy technique but it can provide some difficulty in seeing a bite if the line is difficult to keep taut – blackfish and eel are sensitive biters, unlike trout which aggressively strike a bait or lure. Float fishing certainly provides an advantage as you can very easily see a bite when the float bobs and you don’t have to keep the line tight.

Only consider float fishing if the water is still or swirling so that it doesn’t end up in the stream current and out of the feeding zone.

Targeting these species is best in the late afternoon when the sun sets below the hills and those brave enough to spend a few chilly hours out in the dark are often rewarded for their patience. You can also catch numerous blackfish and eel in one hole, unlike trout that tend to hunt solo in the stream flow.

Key rivers holding blackfish and eel include the Lang Lang River from Hallora right down to Lang Lang, Bunyip River, up at Labertouche flowing down to Koo Wee Rup, the Tarago River, Latrobe River and its tributaries. The season for blackfish closes on the 1 September for 4 months and eels can be targeted all year round.

For those anglers still itching to catch a local trout over July, Blue Rock Lake is your only option. Blue Rock presents a large area that can be covered on foot along the south west bank offering ideal conditions for bank fly casting, lure casting and bait fishing.

Entry points for land-based anglers are at the two boat ramps at either end of the lake with the township of Willow Grove in between. The lake is at near full capacity. There’ll be plenty of smaller trout cruising the edges this month with bigger fish returning from their spawn up the Tanjil River. Over the next couple of months, we’ll start to see an influx of hungry trout re-entering the lake for a decent feed so there should be plenty of angling action.

Feel free to send me a report or photo particularly if you have any success stories out on Blue Rock Lake or if you have been targeting eel and blackfish. Please email me any questions too. Happy fishing!

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