February hoppers and poppers
  |  First Published: February 2016

Now is the ideal time to hit Blue Rock Lake to chase surface feeding bass in the evening. It’s also a nice time of the year to escape the summer heat and find a cool mountain stream to hook in to some stream trout action. Either way, if the fish aren’t biting you can always cool down with a swim after!

It’s been a dry summer, with the odd evening cool change creating some impressive storm activity. The storms herald insect hatchings, which excite stream and lake fish, and anglers alike. Blue Rock has fished very well for bass on lures in the morning and evenings, with anglers resorting to deeper alternatives like baits or jigging during the heat of the day. There are two distinct size averages, and anglers typically catch the most recent stockings around the 10-15cm size. This increases twofold to bass now averaging 30-35cm from previous stocking programs. There are some bass caught and released tipping the magical 40cm mark. Those that tend to have more luck have fished from a kayak or boat; however, some land-based anglers have got among the bass action as well.

The water levels have dropped a little over the last few months, which has opened up more shoreline access for land-based anglers keen to explore.

The Latrobe River in Noojee and Tarago River in Drouin West was very popular over the holiday season, and attracted anglers of all ages and skill levels. The other streams throughout West and South Gippsland have been fishing well too.

February is a big month for stream trout fishing in West and South Gippsland. Not only are the insect hatchings more frequent with the humid weather, but grasshoppers also began to emerge through January, so this month provides a staple diet for stream trout. Fly anglers won’t have any problems matching their flies to the hoppers. Bait anglers on the other hand should attempt to catch a few hoppers and flick out into the stream flow.

Lure anglers have had a lot of fun with surface lures cast right at the bank and retrieved back towards the boat or kayak. Surface lures are best fished in the calm waters of protected coves, so that you can maximise the lure action as you retrieve. The split second wake under the lure followed by a surface bust-up and sudden chaos as the lure is smashed really gets the heart pounding. Ask any bass angler – this style of fishing becomes super addictive.

Poppers are the most popular choice of surface lures, but there are other styles like bent un-bibbed minnows, skippers/walkers and paddlers that are all worth playing with. Don’t be scared going big with the poppers either – 7cm poppers may look too big but that hasn’t deterred bass from swallowing them. Other lures that have been working well include spinner blades, bibbed minnows and soft plastics. The lures used for Australian bass fishing are very similar to the style of lures created and adopted for bass fishing in America. And with more and more lures created, designed and tested every day to suit our conditions, there’s an abundance of lures on the market to play with – this means we’ll never get bored of lure shopping!

For those who don’t fish this region regularly, the streams are not stocked with trout and therefore rely heavily on naturalised populations of trout to spawn each year in these amazing streams only an hour out of Melbourne’s South East. Catch and release ensures we can guarantee a sustainable fishery and continue to enjoy stream trout fishing for many years to come.

Blue Rock Lake on the other hand is stocked with Australian bass, rainbow and brown trout.

Feel free to send me a report or photo, particularly if you have any success stories over the summer holidays with the family, and please email me any questions. Happy fishing!

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