Trout come on the bite
  |  First Published: May 2004

THIS is one of my favourite months for trout fishing in the Snowy Mountains – the water has cooled down to a comfortable level for the trout and they really start to come on the bite.

This is when the brown trout, in particular, are getting ready for the journey to the rivers for their annual spawning run. In contrast to last year, which was wet, this season has been dry and probably drier than it has been for many years.

This has had an effect on river levels and we could do with more rain to get the browns into the Thredbo River on their spawning run. Remember, if you’re fishing 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 now. These frosts have started to cool the lake water and the rainbow trout are much happier and putting up a good sporting fight. Over the past few weeks the rainbows have been really on the bite on the lake, with fish to a kilo common and even a few brown trout up to 3kg.

It is normal at this time of year for the lakes’ levels to be low and still dropping and that is true of the present conditions, with levels being lowered in time for the construction work on the dam wall.

The dropping water level is good for fishing as it brings weed beds closer to shore, so we actually start to get a little bit of polaroiding happening. That will only improve further over the coming months.

On the trolling front, we should also see a bit more surface fishing happening. Normally, pink lures work best but do not be surprised this year if green and yellow lures are still working. I would have Tasmanian Devil numbers 6, 48, 50, 55, and maybe 56 handy in the box and if you haven’t got a No 36 Yellow Wing, you had better buy a handful.

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 for getting the best out of the Dual Depth Tasmanian Devil. , which provides an erratic action that the bigger trout love. Over the past couple of months it is increasingly evident that anglers coming into my shop do not really understand how to troll the Dual Depth Tassie correctly. Most people try to troll the lure like the standard 13g Tassie, which is fine if you are running your line through the centre of the lure.

However, if you’re running 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. The lure, when run at the correct speed, 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, kick in and dive back into the figure -eight motion again. This action will give the tip of the rod a stop-and-start motion – not the constant action that you would expect from the standard Tassie.

It is the stop-and-start action that excites the trout to attack the lure. All experienced trollers would 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, the inside line, on a tight turn will often catches the fish because the action of the lure has changed.

If you want to catch more trout, 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 to run a keel before the lure to avoid twist.


Anglers often ask me how I know so much about lure action. My answer is that I have been using underwater cameras for nearly 10 years now.

My recent acquisition is a Waeco RV-Marine underwater camera, and what I am seeing and learning from this unit will be discussed in a feature article in a future issue. What I can tell you now is that this new unit’s cost is now well in the reach of most anglers. Retailing around $600, this unit is great for anglers serious about their fishing.

I will still be using it for testing lures and seeing how fish react, but can you imagine seeing a trout swimming up and striking your lure? Within five minutes of placing the unit in the water, those of us on my boat watched a trout swim up and check out the lure. The fish just followed and it wasn’t until I sped up the boat and the lure kicked that the fish actually took the lure.

This all happened while we watched the action on the TV monitor provided with the camera. I attached the camera to a downrigger cable, lowering it down to 10 metres, with a lure a metre away from the camera lens.

Because the unit is so small, no larger than a 4kg lead downrigger bomb, the fish didn’t shy away – a problem with my last unit, which was over a metre long.

It’s very exciting watching a trout strike a lure. More on the use of the unit in the next issue.


Over recent months some anglers have been having great success trolling soft plastic lures. The big problem is that you need to enhance the action of the plastic if you are going to troll them for trout. This can be done by trolling them behind dodgers or cowbells but I have found that there is a better way – the Action Disc recently released through Shipton Trading and available at most tackle shops.

This little plastic disc, run down onto the front of the soft plastic, will give the lure all the action necessary to catch trout. I have been using the larger size and prefer the clear one, although I will switch to the pink colour when the trout start to chase pink lures later this month.

May is usually very good for spinning at sunrise and sunset. In the lake I like to use Tassie Devils in No 36 and No 48. For deeper water use the Legend brown trout deep diver.

I must also confess to using soft plastics in the river and lake with good success of late. Just like in the saltwater, you have to get used to working the plastics slowly and you need to use a braided line or you will too often miss the take.

I also find that the trout love the addition of a bit of flash with a soft plastic and the Bassmaster Bass Spin jig heads, with their little spinner blade, will add enough flash to get any trout to bite.

Other great lures to try on the lake and river are bladed spinners such as the Gillies Spina, in gold early and silver later in the day. Try also the smaller 7g Pink Panther No 55 Tassie for spawning trout in the river. For those who like minnows, rainbow trout and brown trout Rapalas, especially the CD 7 brown trout pattern, work well.

Mudeyes will still work well in May if you can find or buy them. The drought has just about made it impossible to get these little creatures but if you’re lucky enough to find some, fish them about one metre under a bubble float.

Bardi grubs will also work very well when fished off the bottom and if you can’t get bardis, a nice bunch of worms is always worth a try. At the moment people are having some great success using a dual rig of worms and orange Berkley PowerBait. Other types of PowerBait catching trout are the new worm and the new maggot. I have had some success on tours using the grub PowerBait with the addition of a little garlic scent.


Fly-fishing on the lake, rivers and streams has been hard going lately due to hot weather and low water levels but I can see an improvement in the last few weeks with a little rain. As soon as we get more rain, we will have some fantastic fishing.

Some trout, although only small, have been caught on the Moonbah and Thredbo rivers. 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 on their spawning run and the best fly will be a black nymph or a Glo Bug.

On the lake, my Williamson’s Goldfish fly, Mrs Simpson and Craig’s Nighttime have been the best flies and with the stable lake level we should be in for some excellent Autumn fly action. Fish over the weed beds early in the morning for the best results.


The Snowy Mountains Celebrity Trout Challenge will be held again in the first week of March, 2005. Those anglers who do not get a personal invitation will have to apply to compete, with certain standards to be met. There is only a limited number of boats so to become involved, get a team together, find a good-looking boat and apply. Write to me at PMB 5 Jindabyne 2627 and ask for an expression of interest form or email me.

We will hold a beginners’ weekend fly course on October 2 and 3, the long weekend. Cost is $330 but a full package with accommodation and meals can be arrange from $460 twin-share or $550 private.

I also intend to have another of our popular weekends suitable for those with a little casting experience. These weekends are about learning how to fish various types of waters in various conditions, are a lot of fun and you get to learn where all my favourite fishing spots are. Prices are the same as above. For any information on our tours, call me in my shop on 02 6456 1551 or 0408 024436.

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