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27 Aug 2023

Tips for catching Trout

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The seasons/conditions

Trout can be caught year-round but the best time to target them is autumn and winter. At this time of year, the fish become aggressive, chasing each other, and pairing up to spawn. Even though most stocked trout in our Victorian lakes can’t spawn, due to the lack of flow, they still go through the same cycle. This is the best time to target trout with lures as their territorial instincts kick in, attacking anything that swims in their space! Depending on your local area, some waterways do have a trout closed season at this time of year and all closure details can be found on the VFA website. Spring is another favorite time for trout anglers, as it brings an abundance of insect life which the fish love to feast on.

Targeting them on fly is best in the spring as at times they become so focused on eating a certain insect that they won’t look at anything else- even if it’s in front of their nose! It’s important to know what your local trout feed on at certain times of the year, so as an angler you can match your lures, baits and flies to something the fish are looking for. The more you know about the habits of the species you are targeting the more successful you will be.

When looking at the weather and time of day both dusk and dawn are well known bite times and produce the best results in the warmer months. In saying that, trout can be caught at anytime of day especially if its cloudy or there is a ripple on the water from wind. Glass calm water and bright sunshine make for tough days as the fish become spooky in the clear water.

Bait fishing

Whilst not as popular as it once was, the art of bait fishing will always be an effective method for targeting trout and even more so in areas of high fishing pressure. Trout are aggressive predators and will eat a large variety of prey (even other trout) depending on the time of year and where they live. Knowing what they feed on in certain seasons in your local area will give you a big head start.

The most common rig used when bait fishing for trout is suspending baits under a float. This allows you to fish water with weedy bottoms where a traditional running sinker rig will be ineffective. When fishing a clean bottom, you can fish either a running sinker rig on the bottom or float up the top and if using two rods you can do both.

Below is a list of popular trout baits:

  • Worms
  • Mudeyes
  • Crickets
  • Whitebait
  • Powerbait
  • Live fish

A fresh mudeye ready to go on the hook

Lure fishing

When beginning with lure fishing it can sometimes be overwhelming. Walking into a tackle store with walls lined with weird and wonderful sparkly things can make it hard to know where to begin. While the number of types and choices can seem like complete madness, there is a reason why so much space is dedicated to the humble lure and its simple, they catch fish! In the autumn and winter when the trout become aggressive, lures are in a league of their own. They may easily overlook a well-presented bait, but a lure whizzing past their nostrils sees them striking before they even have time to think about it.

When new to lures, be patient and persistent- sometimes it doesn’t happen right away. Once you’ve cracked the code though, it’s a fantastic way to target trout. Scent on your lures can also be a game changer if you’re getting a lot of uncommitted followers. If you see this happening or the bite is tough, scent your lures as it might be enough to push them into striking.

Below is a list of top lures styles for trout:

  • Paddle tail soft plastics (2.5inch to 3inch optimal size)
  • Suspending jerkbaits
  • Hardbody diving lures
  • Wobbles/Winged lures

A selection of effective lures for trout

Rods & reels

Depending on whether you are targeting trout with baits or lures the setups required are simple.

A light spin outfit for trout will generally consist of a size 2500 spin reel and a graphite rod 7ft in length rated 2-4kg.

When it comes to line for lure casting braid is best. It provides a longer cast and increased sensitivity, so you can feel constant contact with the lure. It’s important to always use a fluorocarbon leader to the lure when using braid not only is it harder for the fish to see it provides shock absorption to prevent the hooks pulling and is highly abrasive resistant. Leader is generally a rod length. It’s vitally important that you don’t let it get too short- the shorter the leader the less stretch it will have, causing it to break easier. Braid and leader strength for targeting trout generally ranges between 6lb-10lb depending on the angler’s comfort zone and the size of the fish being targeted.

A similar rod and reel set up can also be used for bait fishing, but if you’re looking to target trout using only bait, line such as monofilament between 6-8lb is better suited. It has a higher amount of stretch, very good abrasive resistance and floats which is perfect when fishing baits under a float.

For more information on the various species for trout and the regulations, check out the VFAs Rec Fishing Guide entry here:

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