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Man up! Winter’s bounty is upon us!
  |  First Published: June 2015



It’s easy to say, I know. Your preparation is the key and it starts well before you get to the water’s edge. Quality outdoor clothing is essential, so do your research, shop around, and buy the best you can afford. Gone are the days of feeling like the Michelin tyre man, and traditional fabrics and modern blends all have their place when used in a layering system, so you can now be warm in the coldest of conditions.

It’s amazing the difference it makes, which has been brought home to me many times when fishing up at Thompsons Creek Dam. It’s quite a popular fishery over winter, with false spawning rainbows up on the shallow gravel beds.

The conversation between fishermen varies depending on what time of day you arrive at the car park. It’s about a 1.5km walk up to the dam. The early morning set are as keen as mustard, just out of a nice warm car, full of happiness, vigour and a coffee high. You set off, talking, as you do:

“First time, boys?”

“Yeah, first time at this time of year.”

You just know they are not going to last…

Then there’s the early morning set on the return journey. The coffee hit they had on the drive up has worn off, their faces are red raw from wind blast, and I am sure their back teeth are loose from chattering…

“Any good, boys?”

“No, mate. Bloody hell that place is cold!” We’ve all been there, myself included; I still get caught out from time to time.

So with your clothing issue sorted, you are now ready to unleash hell and fury on the TCD trout population. Oh, if it was only so easy. It’s quite a unique fishery at this time of year and I must say not for everyone. Some choose to stay away as repetitive casts to sighted fish that are in full spawning mode is just not their cup of tea, but each to their own. For many, it’s a viable, legal, put-and-take fishery that offers some of the best rainbow trout in the country.

Very clear water and big, powerful fish in the shallows throws up its own set of challenges. The balance between a light enough leader to hook the fish and actually being able to land them is a fine line (pardon the pun). Drag settings, rod angles, fighting curves, when to put the hurt on and when to back off all come into it as well. I have been done over quite a few times, but better to have loved and lost than not at all…

Fluorocarbon leader is good, with its factor of invisibility a plus, but with very little stretch you should take into account your rod, a slower taper (1 that bends almost right through the curve) is much better.

It’s no secret among the regular TCD fishos at this time of year that fly fishing can account for the bigger specimens. The ability to be able to present very small offerings on light leader, then have a good fighting tool at hand (a long, forgiving rod) plays a major role in this.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT TCD

One could be forgiven after that blurb that options apart from TCD are limited — not so. Lake Lyell just down the road (20 minutes, give or take) offers some good trout fishing as well, with the option of being boat based (something you cannot do at TCD). Therefore the opportunities available to anglers are opened up. Trolling is popular, so with a couple of anglers on board you can flat line some spoons, run a small deep diver, cover a few different depths. Getting out of the boat and walking the banks is an option I touched on in last month’s column, and a great way to target the browns.

Another option, Lake Wallace (Wang Dam), is even closer to TCD, about 10 minutes away, and offers good access to those who are less mobile. The roadway around the dam allows anglers to pull up in their car and fish just metres away.

The fishery is a bit hit-and-miss, but offers some good bait fishing over the winter months. PowerBait (if you haven’t heard of this stuff you need to get out more) is the key, along with a small, light gauge hook diminutive enough to hide the whole hook within the nugget. This allows the bait to float up off the bottom, but a little word of warning —secure your rod, as the next setup to get pulled in won’t be the last.

Hope to see you on the water soon, hopefully on a return walk from TCD, smiling and happy, having unleased hell and fury on some rampaging rainbow trout.

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