BREAK OUT the beanie! And don’t forget the gloves, thermals and the thermos!
Fishing in my neck of the woods this month is for the brave. As much as I hate to say it, this is the toughest month of the year.
Unfortunately we are very much limited in our options and the trout are our saviours but toughing it out for long hours in the cold between fish is the most typical scenario.
Lake Hume will still be at a depressingly low level but the stocking of well-developed (200mm to 300mm) browns late last year should start to feature high in catches. And the odd bigger browns up to 3kg should also turn up.
The lake should be rising finally (don’t hold me to that one!) so we should have a few more options on where to launch a boat. During the low levels most craft are launched behind the Bellbridge boat club and it is generally in this area of the lake where the best trout trolling occurs.
As will be the case every year, those anglers who spend long hours out there will get a few big trout. Trolling a Cobra lure on a flat line will do the damage.
The one common factor between success and failure out here seems to be trolling speed. Obviously, due to the trout chasing smelt, a fast troll is the key – not so fast that the lures are spinning but close to that mark.
Anyway, if the lake does fire, the word will be out. Call in to one of the tackle shops for up-to-date info or email me.
At Khancoban Pondage everything will depend on when we get rain and how early the brown trout run to spawn. If they go early, there is a great chance that the place will be full of big, hungry trout.
If the rains come late, it will be very tough going with small browns to a kilo the only catches.
Three seasons ago, the place fired big-time in July for lure anglers. There were plenty of big browns that had just got back from the streams and minnow lures blitzed the field, with about every second fish over 1.5kg.
Trolling small minnow lures, pumping the rod to give them an erratic action, is certainly the time-proven technique for these Winter fish.
It can be handy to have a close eye on the temp gauge on the sounder this month. The surface can get down to 4° and it is hard to find active fish in this water. If the water does get this cold, look for water slightly warmer and the chances are that there will be far more fish around.
Most often, the warmer water is in the back bays and casting lures in this shallow water is best with a slower than normal retrieve.
Dartmouth will most likely fish reasonably well and should feature highly this month for local anglers. Reports to date have been reasonable but, as is always the case, it’s vital to give yourself a few options when trolling. A rig set up with 30 metres of lead line as well as having a couple of snap weights to clip on can make the difference.
Downriggers, cowbells and the like are used successfully and these are usually complimented by the standard cobra-style lures such as the ever-reliable Lofty’s and the Tassie Devils.
Casting lures around the banks, whether you’ve accessed it by boat or on foot, can be a great way of breaking the day up and I can’t see why it wouldn’t result in similar numbers to those taken trolling.
It’s certainly much harder work but it’s easily twice the fun. I’d much prefer to keep my hands in pockets while trolling until it warms up, then mix it up with some casting when the weather warms.
There’s no doubt that this is the coldest time of the year and if you’re spending time at places like Khancoban and Dartmouth, go prepared. Dress in layers and have a quality jacket that cuts all the elements out.
Most importantly, use your commonsense if faced with poor conditions. Any open expanse of water can turn very nasty in high winds and is no place for a small open boat.
If the weather comes through while you’re out, seek sheltered water straight away and be prepared to sit it out for some time until the wind dies back. Maybe build a fire for warmth and beach the boat and turn it over for shelter if need be.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to bash your way back. Once you start taking water, you’re gone and survival time in near-freezing water is only minutes.
Yes, there will be some great trout on offer. Khancoban can be a real hit and miss this month but the rewards can be justified.Reads: 547