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Study the strike zone
  |  First Published: August 2014



The rivers and streams of West and South Gippsland are flowing strong with solid winter rains providing an abundance of feed to the hungry mouths of post-spawning trout.

Come September 5, when the stream trout angling season re-opens, the Latrobe, Toorongo and Tarago rivers are looking particularly inviting as these rivers are flowing clean. Strong flows and wild winter weather can alter a stream course and make it look a whole lot different in only a matter of months. Water now churns in once quiet little pools, fallen timber washes away, new trees fall over creating new habitat and changed flow conditions provide an exciting prospect for eager anglers waiting for lines down when the season opens.

Trout feeding and strike zones are easy to read for trout anglers that have spent quite a bit of time wading or walking along a favourite stream. Approaching a potential strike zone gets the adrenalin racing knowing there’s a stream trout waiting to strike. Preparing your gear, having that perfect cast and then getting that strike is what it is all about. Being able to read a river can be the difference between having a good day out and having an awesome day out.

For the beginner, learning about these trout strike zones is vital to hooking into a fish. To help with reading a strike zone you first need to learn how stream trout strike and what they are feeding on. Knowing the typical feeding pattern of a stream trout allows you to better prepare your rig, approach to the stream and where to make your cast.

Trout tend to spend most of their time feeding under the surface consuming insects and aquatic invertebrate that move with the stream flow. For most of the daylight hours, trout don’t like to expel their energy. They need that energy to escape predators. They will be found behind a rock or in slow moving water right near where the stream flow is strong. Sitting close to the strong flows allows them to pick off their food from the funnelling effect of the stream flow; essentially the river is doing all the hard for the trout by bringing the food to them. They are able to feed and keep an eye on their surroundings.

At dusk or dawn or when the sun hides behind the hills or clouds, the feeding behaviour changes as they move to the deeper pools and feed from the surface. This is amplified when there is a hatching of insects which invokes a feeding frenzy. It is safer for trout to hunt when the sun is low and it also allows an advantage to ambush insects that sit on the surface. At night, their ambush instincts continue as they hunt small fish, crustaceans and aquatic invertebrate within their feeding zone.

Most streams in this region are narrow enough that there is a consistent flow, without having backwaters and considerably sized eddies. As a general rule of thumb, trout tend to face upstream awaiting food that comes to them. Walk upstream so that you are approaching the fish from behind. In some cases this cannot be done, so walk very wide of the strike zones and camouflage yourself against vegetation. Trout are very shy and easily spooked so approach carefully and avoid casting a shadow over the stream. When wading, don’t wade downstream as the sediment kicked up from the stream bottom spooks the fish.

Before the season starts, trout anglers should get out there and explore all the changes to their beloved streams. Feel free to send me a report or photo particularly if you have any success stories targeting eel or blackfish or bass on Blue Rock. Please note I have a new email address: --e-mail address hidden-- Happy fishing!

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