TROUT

One of the oldest sports fish in the books, trout have been a staple trophy angling species in the Northern Hemisphere for centuries, trout were introduced to Australian waters at the turn of the 19th century. These fish are one of my all-time favourite sports fish as they offer up a plethora of different approaches, from bait fishing to fly, lakes to streams, stocked and wild. A relatively cunning fish with a discerning eye for lure and bait presentations, fooling trout begins with the use of light line and natural presentations.

LURE FISHING

Arguably the most popular method of trout fishing, lure fishing for trout has evolved over the years, spinners gave way to hardodies, which gave way to winged lures, and now soft plastics are becoming ever more popular for trout fishing. There is no magic lure for trout, and the lure you decide to use at any given time should be a calculated choice, some lures offer better fishing in shallow water, where others are designed to punch deep into holes where bigger fish tenaciously guard their territory. My all time favourite trout lures consist of the Rapala range, with the F3 and F5 floating lures being a timeless classic, I will often switch to a jointed J5 or J7 when searching for larger or more wary models, finally, using the CD5 is my preferred method for fishing deep pockets as the Countdown allows for depth-targeting fishing to reach the deeper fish. When the water is shallow or the insects are out, spinners can be a viable option, there are many choices on the market but the Blue Fox spinner is the standout for me, with the rainbow trout patterns and black bladed patterns performing best. As for the line, leaders of over 6lb have the potential to throw off your lure’s action, I personally fish 4kg Black Magic SSP matched with 4lb Black Magic Fluorocarbon leader, the reason the SSP is 4kg is due to the extreme thinness of the line, it has not been created in under 4kg varieties, and the line’s diameter is comparable to 4lb braid, except the SSP is much smoother, allowing for un-paralleled casting performance.

When lure fishing for trout, the cast is as important, if not more, than the retrieve, when fishing lakes a long cast is always beneficial, it will allow you to reach fish further from the bank, and if the fish are holding close your lure will swim by them, rather than landing above them, giving these wary fish one less reason to avoid the lure. Steady retrieves will always catch trout, with speed variations necessary depending on the flow of a river or the depth of a lake, the time of year is another important factor, during the spawning months between June and August (River fishing is closed) lake fish will become more territorial and aggressive, faster retrieves and brighter lure colours will often invoke aggression strikes. When the fish are finicky, a retrieve loaded with short pauses and small twitches is sure to make your lure appear more wounded, triggering wary following fish to strike, I suggest sticking to a slow-medium rule with spinners, as these retrieves tend to be the most productive for spinners. Positioning of the lure and location selection are two more invaluable skills to have, we will talk about these in more detail later in the guide.

A four inch bibbed hardbody in a brown trout pattern did the damage on this lovely rainbow hen

BAIT FISHING

Bait fishing with trout is an interesting game that never stays the same, seasons change, as do locations and diets, trout are not picky eaters and will eat anything from macroscopic nymphs up to small frogs, lizards, and in cases of larger fish, even mice. Bait fishing with frogs and lizards and mice is obviously cruel and not to mention illegal, however the trout’s willingness to eat this prey is an interesting piece of information worth noting, as it tells us a lot about trout as a species; they are opportunistic. If there have been heavy rains and scores of worms have washed into the system, guess what the trout are eating? Or if it is summer and the mudeyes are hatching, we can expect to find the trout around the timber looking for an easy meal. Use this knowledge to your advantage and bait appropriately, worms will always catch fish in rivers and streams, whilst insects such as crickets and mudeyes can provide better catch rates when the air is full of flying prey, as for stocked trout, they will readily take dough baits, with newly stocked fish eager to eat corn and bread. Bait presentation is very important when it comes to trout fishing, worms should be threaded on to a size 8 baitholder hook, and left with as much worm hanging as possible and the hook tip exposed, whilst mudeyes and crickets should be fished on a size 12 hook pierced carefully through the wing case on their backs. Dough baits and bread fishes well on a size 8-10 hook, push the hook into the dough and squash it down to hide the hook completely, bread should be rolled into a small doughy consistency and treated the same. Corn works best on a size 8 hook, with as many pieces of corn threaded on to the shaft of the hook as possible.

Rigs for trout are again, situational, my favourite all-round trout fishing rig is a running sinker with 1.5m of 4lb Black Magic Fluorocarbon leader and a ball sinker the size of a pea, this presentation is great for both stocked and wild trout, and works with all baits, but is best employed for ground-associated baits such as yabbies and scrub worms. Stocked trout can be caught quite easily on paternoster rig, fish with two rods and spread four baits between them; trout dough, corn, bread and worms, weight the paternoster rig with as little weight as possible and keep an eye out for small trout nibbles to avoid both losing and gut hooking fish. When fishing in streams and creeks, unweighted worms are always a great option, a small spit shot can be added for casting distance, but ensure you slowly reel the line to keep it slack but strikeable, this will maintain a natural presentation of the bait. Mudeyes fish well under a float, but if you want to fish them unweighted, grab an ice cube out of the eski and half hitch it to your line, this is a little secret that will give you great casting distance, soon the ice cube will melt and voila, you have an unweighted mudeye out in the strike zone!

LOCATION

Regardless of your fishing style, location should always come first, both in regards to the location of your fishing hole, and the more immediate location of your bait/lure presentation, the best trout fishing rivers are the ones that aren’t fished, they don’t come easily as there are thousands of anglers searching the countryside for that perfect spot and very few locations remain undisturbed, don’t be afraid to bush bash. To find a trout location, look for likely waters, these can be tributaries of known trout angling waters such as the Rubicon or King Parrot Creek, many of these systems run for extensive distances, and even become invisible on the map, only to pop up further on, follow these systems and do some homework, trying different and new locations every trip until you hit the spot you’re looking for. Trout water should be flowing well, with small refuges of slower water, combined with undercut banks, areas of shelter and submerged dwellings such as tree branches or weed beds. As many animals prey on trout from birds to larger fish, trout will usually be found in the aforementioned areas of cover, where they can safely feed, free from predatory eyes, aim your casts around these snags and overhanging areas of shelter to greatly increase your chance of a catch. Bubble trails are another key thing to look for, a bubble trail occurs where the water flow is broken up or runs down a surface, where it meets again it will form a continuous trail of bubbles, which make it easily visible to the eye, many insects, small fish and other forms of trout food get caught in these trails, this leads trout to inhabit these small bubble trails, the fish will usually be found at the end of the trail, but cast your lure or bait at the beginning and work it down the trail for optimum presentation, keep an eye out for changes in line direction or sudden jerks, you often won’t get long to set the hook!

Location is everything, dense snags have a good chance of holding fish!

In reality, I could easily write an entire book on trout fishing techniques, so unfortunately there will be many pieces of information that we simply don’t have time to cover such as trolling, different retrieves for other lure styles and seasonal variations. The intention of this guide is to help out new trout anglers and possibly offer a few more tips to experienced ones.

And on that note I will have to end this guide, trout fishing is viable all year round (excluding rivers during closed season) so get out there and give it a crack, it is extremely rewarding, don’t forget to send us your Brag Wall photos if you score a trout worth bragging about!

An 8lb Rainbow is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face!

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