Winter Exploring
  |  First Published: June 2009

It’s that time of the year when there doesn’t seem to be enough daylight hours in the day, it’s cold, it’s wet, the trout season is closed for all your favourite rivers and streams - it’s basically just down-right miserable!

Recognisance Time

What is a keen stream trout angler to do? Well, I’ve been spending my lines-down time strolling the local streams planning my attack for when the season re-opens. It wasn’t until a week before the season closed that I was walking along an old favourite river bank and I couldn’t believe how much the river had changed in the last 18 months that I had fished it.

Each of my old hot-spots had changed, with new fallen timber and large deposits of sand and silt changing the river course and recent revegetation along the bank consequently meant that I spooked every trout I came across. I got back to the car empty handed, then it occurred to me that whilst I can’t fish these streams for trout over the next few months, why not go back around and check out all my old favourite spots and explore for new ones.

Have a good look around

So I recommend this to any stream trout angler trying to beat the winter blues; get out without the fishing rod and explore the many streams and rivers throughout West and South Gippsland. For example, the Tarago River downstream of the reservoir has seen plenty of changes in the last 12 months with lengths of the river having had willow trees removed.

Another example being the Bunyip River downstream of Bunyip, which has seen a big clean up in recent months with weeds, willow trees and rubbish removed. So you never know, that stretch of river you saw 12 months or so ago and thought was too hard to fish or looked pathetic, may have changed and is now worth exploring. This unfortunately could be said for the opposite too.

Season closed well

Going on to a report leading up to the trout season closing, Adam Benincasa caught and released three browns ranging from 100gm to 300gm in the Latrobe River drifting scrub worms downstream. This is a great method for catching trout and is also a great way to teach kids how to fish when the season re-opens. Teaching kids how to feed a worm on to a hook, then cast out into the river and watch the worm drift downstream into a hungry trout can be a lot of fun and rewarding for the family. And it’s great for the big kids too, because I still get a thrill from catching a stream trout drifting a garden or scrub worm!

I use a size 6 or 8 baitholder hook (or you can go even smaller) and if using only garden worm, put a split shot or two above the hook to give you weight to flick, otherwise a scrub worm is usually enough weight to flick it out into the stream flow. You can either watch the line drift downstream with the current, or like flyfishing, attach a piece of foam or cork 10cm from the hook as an indicator. When the line tightens or the indicator disappears, strike and immediately start walking downstream along the bank fighting your fish. You’ll often lose trout if you are fighting it upstream as the flow and snags don’t work to your advantage.

More rain needed

Providing we get good rains over winter, the rivers and streams around the Noojee and Neerim districts will be all set and ready to go for the opening of the trout season on September 4: don’t forget the less fished rivers and streams throughout other regions in West and South Gippsland. I have had reports of blackfish being caught in the Tarago River, upstream and downstream of the reservoir on worm fished either off the bottom in the current or on a float in a still pool. All rivers and streams throughout Gippsland generally hold blackfish and eels; the most productive time to target being at night and worm being the prime bait.

I did hear of a monster blackfish around 1.5 - 2kg caught in the Bunyip River, Labertouche on a freshwater yabby under a float last year, so the larger specimens are around! Very important to only take home what you need as the blackfish is a significant native species, being the largest of the native freshwater species in this part of Gippsland.

Please email me any reports or photos or feel free to ask me any questions. Happy exploring and fishing!
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