Beat the winter fishing blues
  |  First Published: June 2017

We say goodbye to another stream trout season for the year when the season closes on midnight 12 June. Not all is doom and gloom in the West Gippsland region though. Blue Rock provides anglers with a retreat to beat the winter blues.

Blue Rock Lake located behind the township of Willow Grove is a picturesque lake gaining much attention from anglers and recreational users alike. It’s all happening over winter, you just need to know the technique. First things first, Blue Rock gets mighty cold over winter. Rug up and pack a thermos. Like anywhere over winter, the chilly air can make for an uncomfortable experience and can be the difference between a good day fishing and a bad one.

Winter trout on Blue Rock can be targeted a number of ways. Land-based anglers have a lot of joy casting dry or wet flies from the shoreline, as this is where trout will feed as the water levels rise. Often on a mirror calm day you can see the trout feeding as they gently pick things off the surface. Those that fish the lake a lot will be able to tell the difference between a trout, redfin, bass and carp rise.

Fishing baits off the bottom will also prove worthwhile. Keep sinkers and hooks as small as possible to better present your bait. Remember, it’s not about casting far but more about presenting a nice bit of bait in the trout’s feeding zone. Garden worms, scrub worms, maggots/gents and artificial baits do well at this time of the year. Much like their stream cousins, shoreline trout can be easily spooked, so keep a distance from the bait to increase your chances.

Trolling for winter trout on Blue Rock is also good fun. In June there can be some magical still days ideal for trolling a lure behind a boat or kayak. To up the chances, troll your lures beside windrows or scum lines on the lake’s surface. This is where all the food congregates after a wild and windy few days. If you look at the windrows closely, you’ll notice an abundance of insects and beetles caught on the surface, all on the menu for a peckish trout. If you are skilled with a fly rod, hold the boat or yak back a distance and cast a dry fly or beaded nymph just shy of the windrows.

Bass and redfin are active winter species best targeted fishing baits or lures down deep against structure. You would be hard-pressed to catch either species in any decent sizes from the shoreline over winter unless you find a spot with some sort of structure or drop-off. Casting lures from the bank will produce many fish, just not of any good size. The most common technique for boat and kayak anglers is to ‘tree-hop’ by tying up to trees and dropping baits and jigs. If no strikes occur, move onto the next tree.

Thanks to the technology of today’s sonars, we are able to sound around trees for schools of fish before even wetting a line. Worms, yabbies and crickets are all fair game and lures to try are weighted soft plastics, redfin jigs, twitching lures and ice jigs. If fishing with worms, be prepared for an eel as a by-catch. There are some monster eel out there, which a light rod and line setup just wouldn’t handle.

Feel free to send me a report or photo, particularly if you have any success stories before the closure of the stream trout season or if you’ve had luck on a winter trout, redfin or bass on Blue Rock. Happy fishing!

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