November 30, 2020
with Robbie Alexander
It is well known that trout are a cold water species, preferring water that is cool and well oxygenated. If it for this reason that trout fishing is the most popular form of fishing here in North East Victoria during the winter months when trout fishing in lakes is very popular.
Spring and autumn are also great times to catch trout in the streams when the water is cooler, but what about summer? Is trout fishing any good in the heat?
Basically trout fishing in summer can be much more hit and miss, and VERY reliant on the weather. Prolonged periods of heat will lead to the trout really shutting down and can lead to fish kills in severe cases.
This trout was caught in spring on a bunch of worms. Worms are unlikely to be a good bait in summer unless we get a lot of rain.
As the water begins to warm during the spring months, quite often the trout will start making their way upstream in search of cooler water.
During summer they are usually found in greater numbers in the far upper reaches of our waterways.
All of our perennial streams are spring fed, meaning that the water running down them has originated from underground springs. As it has come from underneath the insulated earth, the water coming out of the ground is usually very cold, so naturally the closer to the spring the trout can get, the cooler the water can me.
We call this area the source. The source of water for the creek, ands usually each stream is started with a number of springs, not just one.
A small headwater with lots of cover is a good place to target trout during the summer months.
So during the summer months it really pays to head as far upstream as you can possibly get if you are targeting trout in streams.
When I say head as far upstream as possible, don’t overlook the high altitude streams in the alpine areas. There are some great little creeks at Mt Buffalo, and also Falls Creek and on the Bogong High Plains.
These streams are typically small and clear. The trout spook easily and are usually not very big, but can be a mountain of fun to catch. (pun intended). Natural presentations are best in these areas so fly fishing is very popular in the high country.
Back in the lower lands, look for streams that maintain a decent flow of water during summer. Many streams drop to dangerously low levels, but some offer a decent flow.
The Upper King River usually has a healthy flow of water, so too do the Upper Ovens, Howqua and Big Rivers just to name a few.
Then there are the rivers that flow directly downstream of large lakes such as the Goulburn River and Mitta Mitta which offer a guaranteed flow and the water is usually much cooler flowing out from the bottom on the lakes.
Timing is everything when trout fishing in an Australian summer. Low light periods can be very good, particularly early mornings when the water has had all night to cool a little bit. The middle of a hot day is the worst time.
There is no timing better than straight after a summer downpour. A thunderstorm or widespread rain event that puts a bit of fresh water into the streams will often fire the trout up, even if it is just for a day or two.
During the summer months it is not uncommon to catch skinny trout as they can lay low and feed of their body fat during periods od heat and low water flow.
Often the trout will lay in the bottoms of the deep shady holes and ride out the hard times. During these times they may lose weight and become quite lean, surviving off their body fat.
Once a decent storm sends a flush of cooler, well oxygenated water into the stream the trout will often make the most of the conditions by feeding heavily to try and gain more weight before laying low again.
So during a summer flush can be a great time to fish, however the fish may be quite skinny in many cases.
When using lures it is hard to go past anything black during the summer months when there are heaps of flies, crickets and all other types of black creeps crawlies around the river banks.
My go-to lure is a black and gold Strike Tiger nymph during summer. Super Vibrax make a black bladed spinner as well which can be very good.
Small minnows and bladed spinners are always worth a try too.
The black Strike Tiger nymph is my go-to soft plastic when trout fishing during summer.
Fly fishing can be an excellent way to catch trout and anything that replicates a grasshopper is always a great fly to start with in summer.
Bait fisherman need to be a bit fussy. As the fly fisherman say, you need to “Match the hatch”. Unless we get huge rainfall making the banks muddy, the grass green and the creeks high and dirty, you’re probably best to leave the worms at home.
Unlike all the other species of fish found in the area that will take worms any time of the year, trout will often turn their nose up at them in summer when conditions are dry, because they are not existing naturally in the waterway.
Better baits would be things that are occurring naturally such as grasshoppers, mudeyes and crickets later in the summer.
*Avoid streams with too much exposure to the sun.
*Shady streams are best
*Look for streams with a decent flow
*Head high, up into the headwaters or even into the high country.
**Importantly** If you want to release the fish it is important that you limit it’s exposure to the hot summer air. If you want a photo, you literally have just a matter of seconds to get it. Keep the fish in the water in a landing net, preferably in the shade until you are ready for a quick snap. It may sound drastic, but any more than 20 or 30 seconds out of the water in summer and the trout will most likely die.
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