Trout come on the bite
  |  First Published: May 2006

This is when the month that some anglers start to put away their rods for Winter but they often miss out on the best time of the year.

May is when the water has cooled down to a comfortable level for the trout and they really come on the bite. This month brown trout, in particular, are also getting ready for their journey to the rivers for the annual spawning run. The big browns can become very aggressive and many anglers come from far away to target the trophy trout that Jindabyne is renowned for.

Many a magazine cover has featured shots of monster Jindabyne brown trout and these fish are usually caught during May. The biggest I have seen over recent years was a 6.33kg brown, which is a monster trout in anyone’s language. It might be worth a trip because you might just be the lucky angler to beat that fish.

Over the past couple of years we have seen a steady lake level due to the work carried out on the dam wall and this has meant that weed beds have been allowed to establish. Good weed allows plenty of insect larvae, yabbies and other food to build up and so the fish are in fantastic condition.

In contrast to last year, which was wet, this season has been dry and hot, probably hotter than for many years, which has affected river levels and we could do with more rain to get the brown trout into the Thredbo River on their spawning run.

Remember if you fish the Thredbo this month the rules change and you can keep only one fish over 50cm.

Over the past few months temperatures have been above average but at least we have had a few frosts. These cool the lake water and the rainbow trout are much happier and put up a good fight. Over recent weeks the lake rainbows have been really on the bite with fish to a kilo common and even a few brown trout up to 3kg.

It is normal now for the lake level to be low and still dropping in time for the spring snow thaw. The dropping water is good for fishing as it brings weed beds closer to shore, so we can start to get a little polaroid sight fishing happening and that will improve over coming months.


On the trolling front, we should see more surface fishing. Normally pink lures work best but do not be surprised this year if green and yellow lures are still working. Over the past few months the Tasmanian Devil No 36 Yellow Wing has been fantastic but one to beat that is my Red Nosed Yellow Wing. I would have Tasmanian Devil numbers 6, 36, 48, 50, 55, and maybe Y82 handy in the box and if you haven’t got a No 36 you had better purchase a handful.

I understand all of these numbers are confusing but the new Tasmanian Devil colour chart has now just been released so if you would like one, send me a self-addressed DL size envelope.

If the days are sunny, try trolling deeper using lead-core line three colours out (30 metres) which will get the Tassie down to four metres. This is also the time of the year for getting the best out of the dual depth Tassie which provides an erratic action that the bigger trout love.

It is increasingly evident that anglers coming into my shop do not really understand how to troll these correctly. Most people try and troll the lure like the standard 13g Tassie, which is fine if you are running your line through the centre of the lure. But if you run the line through the top hole in the lure to get the extra depth, you need to look at a totally different action on your rod tip.

Speed is critical as well. When run at the correct speed the lure should dive down and sway from side to side, swimming in a figure-eight pattern. The lure will then stop momentarily, float up a few centimetres or so, kick in and dive back into the motion. This action will give the tip of the rod a stop-start motion, not the constant action that you would expect from the standard Tassie.

It is the stop-start action that excites the trout to attack. All experienced trollers know that a lure with a changing action will often entice the fish to strike. ‘Snaking’ the boat during the troll or a dropping lure on the inside line of a tight turn will often trigger a strike because the action of the lure has changed.

If you want to catch more trout, then make sure you are running the lures at the speeds that they are designed for. Running a Dual Depth through the top hole for the extra depth requires the speed of the boat to be accurate; too slow and the lure will not kick about, too fast and the lure may spin out, causing line twist. I always recommend a good ball bearing swivel or run a keel before the lure


Anglers have been asking how I have been going with the new E Chip lures and dodgers which send out an electronic signal which entices the fish to bite. I think they are good and will be even better over the next few months. It’s interesting to see the increase in the number of fish that come up to a downrigger bomb when using an E Chip and if you’re not seeing fish rise to the bomb, it’s time you purchased a new sounder.

Last Summer required me to troll at above average speeds to get catch trout and the E Chips like a slower speed but now that the cold water is back the fish will take a slower lure and I can foresee some fantastic catches using this new technology.

The E Chip dodger/flasher is a good addition behind a downrigger bomb and some big browns come off the downrigger during the next couple of months. An Action Disc helps on the days when the fish are inactive and they also work well when placed about 10cm in front of minnow lures.


May is usually very good for spinning the lake at sunrise and sunset. I like Tasmanian Devils in numbers 36 and 48 but for deeper water I use the Legend brown trout deep diver or a brown trout or rainbow trout pattern Rapala.

We may need a little more rain to get the best out of the Thredbo River but since that can happen at any time, it’s a matter of checking the local rainfall reports. The mudeye fishing has been a little disappointing, possibly due to recent years of drought, but bardi grubs have been very good fished off the bottom. If you can’t get bardi grubs a nice bunch of worms is always worth a try or a dual rig of worms and orange PowerBait.

Other types of PowerBait catching trout at the moment are the new Worm and the Maggot and I have had some success using the Grub with the addition of a little garlic scent.


Fly fishing on the lake, rivers and streams has been hard going lately due to low water levels but I can see an improvement with the little rain we have had. I am sure as soon as we get more we will have some fantastic fishing.

Some trout, although only small, have been caught on the Moonbah and Thredbo rivers and by far the best fly has been the Royal Wulff. Over the next month we will see a few more brown trout move into the Thredbo and the best flies will be Black Nymphs and Glo Bugs.

Early in the run you will find that the trout will take a nymph and a Flashback Pheasant Tail is one of my favourites fished through the faster water. In even faster runs use a faster sinking bead-head nymph.

On the lake my own Williamson’s Goldfish, Mrs Simpson and black Woolly Buggers have been the best over the weed beds early in the mornings.

I am setting up a new website so if you would like to be added to my newsletter email list, contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- . I will let you know when the site is finished. For the latest fishing conditions are or information on our tours, call me at the shop on 02 6456 1551.

The author’s back-to-back Gamakatsu No 1 single-hook rig has proved fantastic for Tasmanian Devil lures, giving an almost 'dangerous' hook-up rate and it’s relatively weed-free.

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