Winter time is stout trout time
  |  First Published: June 2017

June marks the beginning of winter, which is a depressing thought for most, but not for anglers who are keen on some big southwest trout. A wet year last year, combined with a not-too-hot summer and an autumn with a few significant rainfalls (in what is often a dry time of the year) should result in some excellent trout fishing opportunities.

Despite some sections of the rivers closing from midnight on Monday 12 June until midnight on 1 September, there are enough areas open to provide good winter fishing. Remember the bag/possession limit on the rivers is five, of which no more than two fish may exceed 35cm.

In reality, at this time of year you don’t catch many under that 35cm limit. Effectively it’s a bag limit of two, which is a good thing really. We’ve often caught the same trout a few times out of the same run, so releasing a fish gives other anglers the chance to enjoy the experience of a good fish.

The nearby lakes should also be fishing well for trout during June. Places like Bolac, Ellingamite, Tooliorook and Deep Lake received drought relief stocking after excellent spring rainfalls in 2016. These fish stockings are in addition to substantial trout releases made through winter last year. Add this to the ever-present trophy trout lakes in Bullen Merri and Purrumbete, where fishing can be tough but the rewards are there for those who persist, and you have plenty of salmonid options to keep anglers keen.

On the estuary scene, the Hopkins River has continued to fish well, with plenty of quality bream being taken throughout the river on a wide variety of methods. As we progress further into the cooler months the fish will begin to leave the river margins in favour of deeper water. Both bream and perch can provide excellent action on blades, vibes and heavily weighted plastics as they begin to school up in the deeper water. As winter really sets in and the water temperatures fall, that deep bite will start to become far more difficult and unpredictable.

Mulloway remain an exciting presence in the river, with fish up to 80cm being caught right up until May. Whether they stay in the system once the waters cool and/or dirty up remains to be seen, but hopefully a few mulloway will remain and succumb to unsuspecting bream anglers’ baits or lures over winter.

Tuna have been an ongoing presence since summer, so the thought of braving the southern ocean during winter may not have the same appeal it has had in previous years. However, if there are massive schools of tuna busting up on a flat, steely grey winter ocean and eating stickbaits, keen anglers aren’t really going to care how cold it is.

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