A winter bounty
  |  First Published: June 2016

Inside the car is warm and toasty, a cocoon that isolates you from the elements you must brave for a winter bounty. The first moment outside the car is telling – not quite fully layered yet, you search for the arm holes in your jacket and think, ‘wow, it’s cool out here.’ You won’t use the word cold just yet though, because cold is a going home word, and your fishing adventure has just begun.

Getting Started

In Thompsons Creek Dam (TCD) there will be a mixture of trout in pre-spawn and spawning mode, so you need to be adaptable. For those who have not experienced TCD, the dam is filled via pumps from water in Lake Lyell; inflows from other sources are minimal. The lake is exposed to high winds, and the rocky points that jut out into the dam that attracts rainbow trout to spawn; it’s quite unique to my knowledge.

The pre-spawn fish are still actively feeding, you can see them darting off to the side grabbing bits and pieces, rising, chasing this and that. It’s one of the great attractions to TCD, the clear water offers so much visual stimulus to anglers. It’s a two edged sword though, because if you can see them they can see you. It’s one of the main reasons so many walk away empty handed.

There are a couple of little tricks to increasing your success – downsize everything, start from the business end (flies and lures) and work your way back, leaders, line, rods and reels. Low light and wind are the next two big factors to success, anything to mask what the fish see, both in the water and out. While on the subject of masking, drop the fluoro jacket and think dull drab and boring. The spawners can be tough, and flyfishing for them is definitely the best method. Glo Bugs and trailing nymphs will work and the above mentioned tips still apply, with maybe the addition of mid-week trips for best results, the fish can get hit pretty hard on the weekends.

Rarely if ever, have I heard manufactures, anglers, and distributors, talk about what goes into making a good soft plastic lure. I am not talking about what it looks like, its colour, or even how many ribs and appendages it has, I am thinking more along the lines of its internal make up – the blends and mixes, the temperatures at which it’s poured, the mould temperatures, and curing times, subtle little things that no doubt affect the molecular structure in the production process. I think in cold water it definitely makes a difference.


At only about 30 minutes away from TCD, Lake Lyell is well worth a visit, especially if you want to target a big brown trout. Don’t get me wrong, TCD has some great browns, but for weight of numbers, Lake Lyell gets the nod. To a certain extent the browns are untapped in Lyell; many more will die from old age than what gets caught. I have seen some absolute corkers, but catching them is another story, they are super cautious, especially in shallow water.

I hardly ever see people target them by walking the banks, spotting fish in the early morning or late afternoon, but this is one of my favourite ways to catch these fish, using lures mostly, casting small soft plastics and hand tied marabou jigs. On the right day you can see up to 6-8 fish on a walk and catch maybe 1-2 if you are lucky. Boat-based anglers have the opportunity to mix it up a little with trolling or lure casting as well.

With spawning urges in full swing, look to target the upper reaches of the Coxes River and Farmers Creek arm. The fish can be quite aggressive towards other fish shaped offerings; so big long minnows even out to 8-9cm in length – don’t be shy.


Redfin to over 40cm that pull light string and circle under the boat like little tuna are working up a sweat. I love catching these models, and the added bonus is how good they are on the plate. Like them or loathe them, they are in Lake Lyell and Lake Wallace (Wang Dam). It will be interesting to see what size they get to in both dams. Lake Wallace is packed with tucker; it’s a virtual fish food soup bowl. It may be a little early for bold predictions, but I reckon in a few years record sized redfin will be caught.

Don’t pack your gear away, shed the winter cacoon status, get out there and enjoy a winter bounty. Hope to see you on the water soon, until then tight lines.
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