Cool Off with summer hatches
  |  First Published: December 2009

January is one of my favourite times to hit the streams of West and South Gippsland for trout.

Anglers aren’t the only ones stacking on a few pounds over Christmas and the New Year. Trout too are putting on good condition feeding on many of the summer hatches of bugs and beetles that usually come after a thunderstorm or cool change in this region.

So it’s time to grab the fishing rod, fly vest and polaroids and work off some of that Christmas cheer.

All the rivers are holding great numbers of small trout ranging from 150-700g and the outlook is great, as there have been above average rainfalls to see out 2009 accompanied with a cool start to summer.

The rivers around Noojee and the foothills of Mt Baw Baw are looking great. The Latrobe, Toorongo, Loch and Tanjil Rivers are flowing very clean with plenty of solid reports coming in before Christmas.

Ten-year old keen angler Sarah Orton from Tanjil South reported that she caught five rainbow trout in the Tanjil River all around the middle of the day drifting garden worms and a size 4 baitholder hook using a couple of split shots. Sarah also lost a few more trout, which she believes were a mixture of browns and rainbows. She said that there were heaps of fish around but you had to be very sneaky to not spook the fish in the clear water. The biggest Sarah landed was around 500g which was a terrific effort!

Regular correspondent Nick Iwanov and his brother Alex fished the Latrobe River heading east of Noojee and reported that the river was in pristine condition and that there were plenty of insects around getting the fish excited.

Nick reported that the September floods have knocked a few more trees down over the river which has closed up some previously good trout holes so lure fishing made it somewhat difficult in parts. He was using Celtas and Gillies spinner bladed lures and was getting a lot of strikes but wasn’t able to hold on to many fish.

By the end of the couple of hours fishing, they caught and released four browns between 150-400g, reporting that the black coloured spinners worked best. He also said that drifting baits into these tight holes would certainly work a treat and that next time he goes down he’ll definitely be carrying some garden worms and hooks.

It’s always good to pack a bit of extra tackle in your small tackle box or fly vest when fishing these streams. Some days lures attract a lot of interest but may not give you much success in landing a fish.

If you have some hooks and split shot with you, finding live bait is very simple. Being mindful of snakes and spiders, lift up fallen timber, rocks or scrape away the top layer of bark and leaves around big trees to find scrub worms and grubs that are all fair game for stream trout.

For the fly anglers there is a lot of fun to be had over summer with plenty of storm activity promoting insect hatches. It is certainly worth paying close attention to the weather over the next few months. Dry flies will work best as the insects fall on the water surface with the trout just picking them off one by one. Take along a swag of flies so that you can pick the one which best imitates the flavour of the day. Royal Wulffs and Matukas are a popular choice and anything in black with a speck of colour works well.

The Tarago River is really struggling at the moment with stream flows being reduced to a minimum. This is due to the Tarago Reservoir being used to supply potable water to the Mornington Peninsula and is managed by Melbourne Water.

Obviously with supplies being so low across Melbourne, the Tarago Reservoir is working overtime so very little water is making it past the dam wall and into the river. This is very disappointing for many local anglers as this river has always provided a lot of excitement and holds some of the biggest fish in the region.

The managed flows have no doubt impacted on the 2009 spawning season, so it’s important to catch and release trout in the Tarago River downstream of the reservoir to ensure plenty of future breeding stock.

Other rivers worth wetting a line in over summer are Shady Creek, Bunyip River and the Lang Lang River. These rivers not only hold trout but are locally renowned for their blackfish.

With long daylight hours and hot weather, stream fishing in these icy cold waters is a perfect way to finish the day.

Please feel free to email me any reports, photos or questions.

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