At long last the freshwater fishing in South and West Gippsland is beginning to fire.
The rivers are still running quite high but some sustained periods of fine weather have finally allowed the water to clear and plenty of trout are being caught.
In the north of the region, Wally Ronalds reports that the Tarago River north of Warragul is holding some large fish. In the section of stream below the Tarago Reservoir (between Rokeby and Neerim South) he has taken brown trout to 1.8kg on dry fly patterns fished wet.
Success has required a stealthy approach and accurate casting as this is a small stream, not 2m wide in places. Trout of this size in such skinny water are great sport, though most are much smaller. Note that Tarago Reservoir itself is closed to fishing.
Another small stream, the Loch River north of Noojee, is also fishing well. Small pan-sized brown trout (20-30cm in length) can be caught in good numbers. A good technique is to fish small black wet flies in the slightly discoloured water.
Further south, Andrew from Gippsland Firearm and Fishing Supplies in Meeniyan reports a similar improvement in the trout scene through December. The upper reaches of the Tarwin River and its tributaries around Mirboo North have been fishing very well for brown and rainbow trout around 25cm. Most of these fish have been taken running earthworms through the deeper pools. Lots of eels are being caught in these waters, too.
Don't forget, 1 January marks the opening of the river blackfish season south of the Great Dividing Range. These curious native fish grow to over 45cm and can be captured in most rivers around here with a bait of worms on a size 4 hook. Look for slow flowing, snag-filled pools. The minimum legal size is 22cm, with a limit of five fish per day, but I encourage you to catch and release. (There is a detailed article on blackfish by Danielle Dalla-Rosa in Fishing Victoria Volume 2, also published by FM Group.)
Over January and February the trout fishing here should be fantastic. Summer evenings often see thick hatches of insects, which, with clear, clean water, provides ideal conditions for flyfishers. Daylight savings allows many of us to sneak out after work for a quick fish. Watch out for things that wriggle, though, both snakes and leeches abound in this region!
1. In summer, the small streams of West and South Gippsland offer great opportunities to catch wild trout.
2. Local flyfisher Attilio Demichelli with a brown trout from a small stream in Gippsland.Reads: 1787