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How to Catch Trout: A Complete Guide

Robert Thornton

Trout are one of the most fished for species in the angling world, and even in the alien landscape of Australia, these non-natives receive their share of attention. Introduced by British settlers in the nineteenth century, rainbow, brook and brown trout can now be found across much of our southern regions in both rivers and lakes, along with other salmonids.

Although descended from European and North American broods, the trout found here are very well adapted to Australian conditions and catching them presents extra challenges.

If you’ve ever wanted to try tempting trout on lures, Daiwa Australia have a range of specialist tackle for Aussie conditions, whether you plan to commando crawl along a tiny, tussock-lined alpine stream, or search the depths of a mountain lake with plastics. Daiwa’s Pro Team features a group of anglers who dedicate a lot of their fishing time to figuring out these Continental curiosities, and prove that Australia can and does offer world-class trout fishing!

A Trouty History

Attempts to introduce trout to Australia started in the mid-1800s in Tasmania, and in the decades that followed they were successfully reared and stocked in other states where they now have self-sustaining populations. Some of the broodstock were originally taken from New Zealand, where they had already been successfully introduced from the northern hemisphere. Generations of hatchery and wild-spawned fish have contributed to make Australian trout unique. West Australian trout, for example, are known to be able to hatch and survive at higher temperatures than other stocks around the world, and have recently been considered as an option for introducing trout to warmer climates.

Our great southern land also hosts a variety of non-traditional foods for the opportunistic trout, which has led to accelerated technique and tackle development for this iconic species. But, true to their origin in the north, most Aussie trout anglers still measure their trout in pounds, not kilograms.

Whether you like them or not, these speckled survivors are here to stay. While some knock back a trout fishing opportunity because they are introduced, anglers with a sporting spirit and a sense of adventure simply can’t get enough of them.

These fish offer just about everything an angler could want: they respond to different techniques, live in a variety of habitats, they jump, grow large and as a bonus they taste great. Let’s take a dive into the world of Aussie trout!

Go with the flow

Trout fishing generally takes place in two arenas, rivers and lakes (the latter can be dammed or natural). We’re going to talk about trout fishing in streams first up.

How you prepare for a stream trip depends a lot on the sort of stream it is. As a general rule, larger streams will hold larger fish, while smaller trickles will tend to produce smaller fish. Trout gear is usually kept as light as possible to tempt this highly alert species in a close-quartered environment.

Most trout fishers like to approach their river fishing by working upstream, sneaking up behind the trout that are sitting facing into the current.

Having to carry everything you need on you as you trudge through or along a creek is one disadvantage, however Daiwa’s Guide Backpack is absolutely made for a keen trout spinner. In fact, anyone wanting to head off the beaten track in search of some land-based thrills should take a look at this all-in-one tackle storage system.

Jesse Rotin, a member of Daiwa’s Pro Team, lives in the Melbourne Metro area, and loves fishing both streams and lakes for trout. He understands how trout feed in different environments.

“In creeks I find you tend to get better numbers in a session, the fish are more aggressive because of the flow giving them less time to look,” he explains. “If there’s a trout in a pool, you’ll know if it’s interested straight away.”

Mark Gercovich also flies the Daiwa flag where he fishes for trout around Warnambool in Victoria, but the streams in this area are a little different. Mark lives in a unique region where the trout cannot (or will not) breed naturally, relying purely on stocking efforts from Fisheries. These lowland streams are therefore open to angling year round, and aren’t subject to a closed season. The closed season is in place to allow the fish time to spawn. There are a few other similar habitats around Australia, however many of them still come under some form of closure.

“If you can land 2-3 fish in a session in the Hopkins [River] you’ve done well, because they’re likely to be 3-5lb fish.” Mark says

It’s a bit of a rule across the board that trout streams with less fish in them will produce better quality fish, whereas overpopulated streams will tend to have a smaller average size.

Jesse’s local streams tend to fall in the latter category. To keep his backpack light, Jesse likes to condense his lure selection, making sure to include a few key lures.

Trout can become fussy during insect hatches, which is where fly fishing can come into play, however lure casters can often enjoy success on a range of presentations. With that said, it’s important to adjust your approach as you go, letting the fish tell you what they want.

“I love using the Presso Minnow 66 in a variety of colours,”Jesse says, “I’ll lean toward whites usually, but sometimes if that’s too bright I’ll go for something more natural.”

Double Clutch 48s aren’t as good for a super shallow creek,” he continues, “but for any deeper stuff they work great, and working them with the rod tip up makes it swim erratically, which can help a lot.”

 

Soft plastics have been a regular part of a trout spinner’s box since they became available to the world many decades ago, and Jesse understands how versatile they can be.

“I always have a few 2.5" Bait Junkie Minnows in a mix of brights and naturals,” Jesse says.

Mark also loves using The Pressos, but given the larger average size in Western Victoria, he tends to upsize his presentations.

“I love the 95 Presso in winter when the streams around here are flowing a bit,” Mark explains, “and Double Clutches are my go-to for any deeper pools.”

“I think I prefer using baits with trebles because where I fish, because I might only get 2-3 bites in a session, and I want them to stick.”

Once you make it down to a flowing body of water for trout, it’s a good time to have a look at the water and try to read what’s going on. Jesse says in his part of the world most of the creeks he fishes are rain-fed, and can almost stop flowing altogether during a bad year.

“I’m looking for flow most of all,” Jesse explains, “Reasonable water clarity is good to have too, but it doesn’t have to be super clear, it’s really about having a good amount of flow.”

“If I get down and find it’s running slow, I’ll walk a bit to look for areas with a bit of run, colour or bubble on the surface like a boulder or the bottom of a rapid.”

Mark agrees, adding that artificial structures such as bridge pylons and weirs can also provide the turbulence these patient hunters need to feed.

“If I cast into a good looking pocket and don’t get a bite, I say to myself ‘there probably isn’t a fish there’, so the trick for me is to cover water and find lots of these good-looking areas,” Mark says.

Landlocked Lunkers

Searching the lakes for trout can be like fishing for a different species, but there’s a few things that stay the same when exploring the open water. Just like their riverine cousins, lake trout like something to break up the surface, and in an open body of water that something is wind.

Both Mark and Jesse unhesitatingly list wind as a key factor for a good trout session on a lake.

“A lot of people, myself included, will always try to fish a wind-blown shore, as these areas bring food, and there can sometimes be a temperature difference that the fish find more comfortable,” Jesse says.

“It’s not the ‘be all and end all’ though,” he adds, “I’ve had days where it was too windy to even cast in the ‘good’ areas and ended up having to find a calmer spot, but in the end we still caught fish.”

Mark also likes to find wind-blown areas for his lure casting missions.

“We like to fish casting into the weed edges,” Mark explains, “And a bit of wind is always good; when it’s really, really calm they become hard.”

“I also like to fish lowlight and overcast periods – this is when they’re hunting shallow,” he continues, “I stop fishing when they go deep.”

Gloomy conditions and unsettled water are always going to be good times for land-based anglers to cash in on quality lake trout, as this is when they will be nearer to the shoreline. The backpack-wearing brigade of trout followers know all too well that dark, cold and sometimes wet and downright miserable conditions can be worth braving for a landlocked lunker.

Trout tackle for Mark and Jesse is kept mostly the same wherever they go, but a few small adjustments can help you get the most out of each trip.

“I might use a rod around 7ft long in the lakes, whereas 6ft is more comfortable in the rivers,” Mark says, “Longer rods like the Infeet 732 help punch lures out there to get nice long casts, and provide a bit of cushioning for big fish on small trebles.”

Revelries and Sols, which is pretty standard spin gear for most of the fishing I do.”

 

Just like Mark, Jesse also likes a longer spin rod when tackling the lakes, but tends to focus more on having enough range in his lure box to cover his bases.

“In my box I want something to get down a bit more, so the Double Clutches are great in the lakes,” Jesse says, “I also like the Baitjunkie Minnows in 2.5 and 3.2 sizes, and generally I try to use baitfish-looking colours.”

“These fish are usually older and more weary, and in a lake they have more time to think about eating something as it goes past,” he explains, “your presentation has to look natural.”

Lines don’t need to change a whole lot between lakes and rivers either, and Mark points out that with larger lake fish in open water and smaller stream fish in tight quarters, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts.

“I won’t fish any lighter than 8-10lb leader in the lakes because they can be big fish,” Mark says, “In the streams I’ll still use 8-10lb, because it’s shallow water with plenty of things to get caught up on.”

Fishing in lakes also offers a chance for anglers to fish during the closed season, so while the ‘wild’ fish get busy in the rivers, you can still enjoy great fishing (often up shallow) in the big water.

One thing to consider is that lake and stream trout aren’t always kept totally separate. In fact, there are many places where trout pass freely from lakes into their feeders streams and back multiple times each season. Lakes Eildon, Jindabyne and Eucumbene are well-known for this phenomenon, and the areas in and around them offer fantastic trout fishing.

A quick word on safety too: anyone looking to fish land-based, whether around the edges of a lake or along a creek, be prepared to share the space with snakes. Our southern states have a lot of venomous snake species, particularly areas adjacent to water. Most will only attack if cornered, however it’s a good idea to wear protection in the form of long pants, gaiters or waders. Watching where you put your feet is another habit to get downpat before you go hiking for trout.

Try Out for Trout

With much of the world holding a deep respect for these fish, it’s no surprise many of Australia’s foremost anglers spend so much time in search of them. You might even have a bit of trout gear already! Many small lures imported and used by punters in Australia were actually designed for trout by developers overseas!

If you live near trout water and haven’t given it a proper go, do yourself a favour and put it on your list! 

 

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