Go deep for Blue Rock bass
  |  First Published: June 2016

As I mentioned last month, the streams and rivers of the West and South Gippsland region are not stocked with trout but rely solely on natural reproduction, so it’s important to practice catch and release, particularly as we edge closer to their spawning season when females might be carrying eggs.

The closed season means that stream brown and rainbow trout can spawn and then migrate back downstream to feed, all in time for the season opening in September.

If you are heading out to target stream blackfish or eel, or just happen to be passing through and spot illegal activities on our streams, please report to 13 FISH.

Over May there was plenty of small stream trout activity and bigger fish were hard to find. Some females were already carrying eggs, but the streams have been flowing low with very little rain through autumn. We hope that over the next few months there is some decent rainfall activity to top up the catchments, as it’s been very dry since last winter. This will determine whether the trout spawning season is a success.

As the trout streams close up, our attention shifts to other freshwater opportunities in the West and South Gippsland region. Eel and blackfish are fun targets in the winter months and can be found in all streams and rivers. Eel are particularly tasty when smoked and the sizes they get to in this region are perfect for the smoker.

Blackfish size varies greatly on the stream size. Larger fish are caught in deeper holes and are typically found along rivers like the Tarago, Latrobe and Tyers rivers, whereas smaller streams tend to hold large numbers of smaller fish.

The other option is Blue Rock Lake next to the small township of Willow Grove, just 30-minutes northeast of Warragul. The lake’s reputation has vastly improved in the last couple of years with good fishing and more anglers able to get out with the restrictions on engine and boat size lifted.

Winter bass reports at Blue Rock seem to indicate that the fishing is best late in the day. Bass during the colder months will be found deeper in the water rather than up at the surface feeding like they have over the last six months. Therefore, surface lures are out and deeper diving lures, soft plastics with heavier jigheads, jigs and baits are in and best worked deep.

Bass tend to feed on small redfin, which, like bass, will begin their descent down into the cold deeper waters over winter, and they’ll also gorge themselves on the masses of shrimp that congregate around structure.

Lake trout are good fun and can be caught flatline trolling or on bait presented under a float or off the bottom in the shallow waters, which is perfect for boat, kayak or land-based anglers.

Feel free to send me a report or photo, particularly if you have any success stories before the closure of the trout season or late autumn bass on Blue Rock. Happy fishing!

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