Here in West and South Gippsland, freshwater anglers have been biding their time while waiting for the trout season to open again. Some have made do chasing river blackfish, or even eels. Others have had a go at targeting freshwater crayfish. The Gippsland variety of cray looks quite different to the Murray cray, but, believe it or not, they can grow every bit as big as their northern cousins.
Martin Auldist and VFM contributor John Dalla-Rosa recently spent a couple of hours chasing crays in one of John’s secret spots in West Gippsland. In a creek no more than 3m wide, they caught seven good crays, the largest of which had a carapace length of 140mm. They were caught using whiting heads attached to pieces of string, and a scoop net, in much the same way you would fish for yabbies. Martin assures me most of these prehistoric-looking monsters were released, but that two made a very tasty entrée.
From now until Christmas is a good time to target Gippsland crays, and many of the rivers and streams in the region have good populations – so why not do some exploring? Be sure you’re aware of the rules and regulations, which are available on the DPI website (www.dpi.vic.gov.au).
Speaking of regulations, it is alarming to hear of a number of anglers who, unable to wait for trout opening, have been targeting trout in many of the streams around West Gippsland (though thankfully some offenders were apprehended and fined, as reported in VFM last month – Ed.). Even more disturbing is one report of somebody shooting spawning trout as large as 4.5kg on the Tarago River above the reservoir. It’s important that people who witness illegal fishing activities to report it to Fisheries on 13FISH (13 34 74).
On a more positive note, the upcoming trout season is looking positive in terms of plenty of great locations to fish and an abundance of trout in all tributaries in this region. Good rains have replenished habitat and feed for trout so it will be an exciting season. Lets have a look at a few options.
As I wrote in a previous article, the Bunyip River south of the Princes Highway features a wide river with steep banks and plenty of trout habitat. Public access is achievable along many parts of the river and this water would suit flyfishing, spinning, lure casting, or drifting soft plastics and live baits. The Bunyip north of the Highway meanders through farmland with some good public access points past Labertouche. This stretch of river would also suit most fishing techniques.
The Tarago River is a popular waterway below the reservoir, with good access through farmland making it an ideal flyfishing location. Other techniques will also prove productive. Above the reservoir the river provides some exciting fishing too, with dense vegetation providing good cover. Be aware that public access is restricted around the Tarago Reservoir. Best methods for the river include drifting soft plastics or live baits, or drifting nymphs with a short fly rod.
Around Noojee there is a stretch of the Latrobe River that is very popular with families looking to wet a line. It is also a popular setting for flyfishing. The river upstream and downstream of Noojee winds through farmland and features some great public access points. All techniques are worth a go.
These rivers all offer fantastic fishing with good access and water suitable for all fishing techniques. The Tanjil from around Icy Creek through to Bluerock Reservoir is mostly bushland. In contrast, access for Toorongo and Loch Rivers is through farmland, but all three rivers feature some top fishing locations.
When entering farmland to access streams and rivers its best to seek landholder permission. It’s also important to take all your rubbish home and to not disturb any riparian revegetation.
Best of luck for this season. Don’t forget blackfish season here closes when trout season opens. Please feel free to email me your reports and photos.Reads: 4681