So the Victorian trout season is about to open. Like the beginning of most seasons, its likely that a least a few of the rivers are going to be running pretty high (or at least I hope they are, as it will bode well for the rest of the season). So what are the best ways to tempt trout from high and maybe slightly discoloured waters on the opening weekend?
Firstly, the basics of good fly fishing are always important. Explore, look and appreciate how the river might have changed while you were at home. Use your fishy sense to detect good trout habitat and good lies. A lot of fishing is done before you even cast. Related to that don’t wade through good fish holding habitat, which is pretty easy to do when the rivers are running high. In fact its easy to to at any time of year. In high flows fish will try to find relief from the strong current. That often means they will be hard up against the bank, hiding behind a rock, cut out or log. Any place where a trout can hold with relatively little effort and still have food coming in regularly on the trout sushi train, i.e the current is likely to hold fish. In high flows that may be at your feet.
High water that is maybe a bit off colour is not the time for size 20 dry flies. While you might be lucky enough to get onto a few rising fish and tempt a few on the dry fly, early season is often about nymph fishing. Don’t be afraid to use larger and flashier nymphs at times. If the river is high or a bit discoloured it can often about getting the attention of the trout, rather than perfectly representing an insect. Copper johns, flashback hares ears, pheasant tails and bright orange bead heads all have their place early in the season. In high flows getting down to the fish can be an issue, so don’t be afraid to tie on a big bomb fly like the simons ugly from manic tackle. A simple fly two tungsten beads and some rubber legs, it gets down quick and attracts attention. It also catches fish. If you aren’t getting down to the required depth, use split shot. Early season isn’t the time of year where you leave your split shot at home. This is also a great time for Czech/short line nymphing (as are all times I suppose), something I’m not very good at, so at least for me it will give me a chance to brush up on my technique and hopefully catch a few trout while I’m doing it.
Fish streamers. I wrote about the rationale behind early season streamer fishing already. Added to that, streamers attract attention in fast or off coloured water. So this is the time of year for cracking out your articulated streamers, big rubber legged wooly buggers and the like. Big meals that trout will notice and move for in the high flows. If you’ve ever felt like giving streamer fishing a go, this is the time.
Lastly, have fun. The trout season is open, you get to be on the water, even if you don’t catch a load of fish, remember how good it is to be wading your favourite stretch of river again. Appreciate the sights, smells and feel of the place. You have the whole season ahead of you, a world of possibility. Enjoy it.