Stream craft – spinning for river trout
  |  First Published: September 2016

Winding through the mountain valley’s and down through the lush green farm lands throughout the state, small creeks, streams and rivers are awash with trout.

One of the more photogenic species of fish to catch, trout are a viable option year round, except during the closed season that is.

Victoria’s trout fishery is so wide spread, that they can be caught high up in the alpine regions right down to coastline and in brackish water.

Regardless of where they can be caught, trout are quite easily spooked, requiring a few special tactics to coax them to the hook.


Rivers, streams and creeks are all similar in their form. Sure they may look visually different with rocks, logs, depth, trees and shrubs in different locations, but it is the water and how it runs which is quite the same in all instances.

When looking at a river, there may be a log or fallen tree lying deep halfway across the width of the river. A creek may have a series of boulders under the water but just breaking the surface and in a stream; there may be a large set of rapids opening up into a slow flowing deep pool.

These features are what to look for and where you’ll find fish holding. Other features could be a build up of tree bark, or anything else for that matter that causes the main current to slow around, after or nearby the structure creating a location for fish to escape the current. Deep pools, eddies and slow runs are locations where fish can relax and constantly keep an eye in the current for any potential foods to wash down past them.


The key to being successful when working a river, stream or creek is to avoid spooking any fish.

Trout, regardless of species, always hold facing upstream. In doing so, they can see everything that is coming down with the flow of the current.

On approach to a river, this information is vital as it provides you with the knowledge as to where to walk so to not spook the fish.

Of course, the most common technique in fishing a stream, river or creek is to walk along the bank’s edge. This is highly effective, however can have adverse effects.

Walking along the edge of the bank puts you at risk of being seen and spooking fish purely by the sheer size of you, which can easily be seen.

Walking the bank does require quite a stealth approach to avoid these two key points becoming an issue.

An alternative to walking the bank is to wade the river. This means donning on a pair of waders and hopping into the water, walking up it. Of course, this technique is the most effective stealth approach; it can lead to some incidents to arise. Walking in the river while casting well ahead can lead to some issues such as the force of the current pushing against you as well as slippery rocks and logs underfoot. Of course in this instance, you could fall over and get wet. While this is the biggest issue, others tend to arise about slipping and injuring yourself so to combat this, ensure you always have good secure footing before taking the next step.

However, as you approach a river, creek or stream, continue to keep an eye out for specific areas in which to land your bait or lure to entice a strike.

This might mean casting ahead of a log or boulder so to bring the lure and or unweighted bunch of worms down with the current and into the slow pool or eddy to where fish could be holding.

Casting accuracy is vital in order to have the lure travel in the right location to follow the current past specific structures.

Once you understand such points, locating fish will become much easier each time you wade or walk a river.


Bait selection is always vital, regardless of the species being targeted, however, when it comes to trout, special consideration should be payed to what your choosing to use.

Trout season ends on midnight the Monday after the Queen’s Birthday until midnight on the first Friday in September.

Depending on the time of year you’re targeting trout, different lures work more effectively than others. At the end of autumn and heading into winter, the first signs of rain stimulate trout to begin their spawning cycle. This means that trout begin to congregate in the river mouths waiting for the rivers to rise so they can head up stream and over any obstacles to get to where they can lay their eggs in the soft rubble of the riverbed.

During this time, smaller trout harass larger females in order to fertilise their eggs as well as eat any eggs free floating down river. When the smaller males are out and about, larger males are quick to defend their female and often eat and or attack smaller males. Anglers in search of trophy trout at this time of season end need to use lures replicating smaller trout.

Building your collection should at least begin with Yo-Zuri 90mm Pins Minnow in colours BWTR and M99 for the fast shallow runs, Yo-Zuri Minnow Magnet MR 70mm in HSYM for deep slow running pools, Yakamito Slim Minnow 100mm in brown trout and rainbow trout colours for deeper pools and Rapala 11cm and 13cm in TR and RT colours for both shallow and deep pools.

You can always expand a lure selection into soft plastics if you feel the need, but for most of the creeks, rivers and streams fished at this time of year, hardbodied lures as mentioned are more than enough.

When the season opens in September, the fishing is much slower than closing, however, if you’re up to a little exploring, there are a lot of fish to be found. From September through to May, trout may be found in similar locations, however they respond less aggressive than when in spawning mode. Throughout this period, it is vital to downsize lures as there will also be a lot of smaller fish in the systems. Larger trout have already done their business and have made their way back into the lakes where they live and are doing what they do in the deeper waters until the cycle begins all over again.

Smaller fish have quite a varying diet and while hard body lures work exceptionally well, soft plastics and spinners should also be found in the tackle selection.

A good lure selection for the rest of the open season may consist of Yo-Zuri 50mm and 70mm Pins minnows in colours BWTR and M99, Yakamito Slim Minnow 60mm in brown trout and rainbow trout colours, Rapala Original 5cm and 7cm TR and RT colours along with the 70mm Zerek Live Flash Minnow Wriggly in the 008 colour and Mustad Darter Jig Head 1.8g #1 hook.

Spinners are equally important, as on occasion you’ll be flicking into some real shallow water where there may be a lot of debris and only a spinner will be able to be worked just below the surface without being hung up.

Worden’s Rooster Tails in the 206 and 208 sizes are ideal with colours FL, BL, PK, BRTR and RBOW the ideal size and colour selection to be used throughout this period.


Even I find it hard to decide where to head for a flick throughout trout season each season, and lucky for us Victorians, we are fortunate to have so many creeks, rivers and streams to fish.

Out west, not all of the trout rivers are closed to fishing between Queens’s birthday and September. These are the: Aire River downstream of the Great Ocean Road Bridge, Avon River downstream of the Stratford Railway Bridge, Ford River downstream of the Great Ocean Road Bridge, Gellibrand River downstream of the Great Ocean Road Bridge, Hopkins River downstream of the Hopkins Falls, Merri River downstream of the Bromfield Weir, Mitchell River downstream of Princes Highway Bridge at Bairnsdale, Moyne River downstream of the Toolong Bridge and the Tambo River downstream of the Bruthen Road Bridge.

Throughout the north and south east of Victoria, the alpine region provides anglers with a huge selection of creeks rivers and streams to fish with some producing some magnificent fish.

Of the more popular waterways, the Yarra River, Monbulk Creek, Goulburn River, Acheron River, Stevenson and little Stevenson rivers, Rubicon River, Snobbs creek, Big River, Howqua river, Deletite River, Tanjil River, Tarago River, Tyers River, Toorongo River, Snowy River amongst a million other creeks, rivers and streams are all abundant with trout.

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