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Tiny creeks and sea run trout - Christopher Bassano

Presented from Issue 105, August 2013
Christopher Bassano fishes over 250 days a year. This interview was recorded just before he headed off to fish for Australia in the World Fly Fishing Championships in Norway 14-17 August 2013.

I live on a small stream and at the start of the season I like to go off on a bit of a discovery mission and fish the headwaters of the creeks and rivers I feel an affinity with.

These small rivers include the St Pats, Meander, Forester, Little Forester and others. The further up you go on these rivers the clearer and lower the levels. They are often less affected by the rain and runoff and you get some good opportunities. Get as close to the source as you can and you will find some good dry fly fishing. Don’t limit yourself to those I have mentioned. Most headwaters will hold trout.

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114 summer river troutPresented from Issue 114, February 2015
Well now with the Summer weather well and truly here it’s time to change a few tactics fishing the rivers during these warmer months. Lower water levels and warmer water temperatures is something that the trout don’t like all that much. I have found the best water temperature for trout is between 11 deg C and 18 deg C above and below these temperatures and the fishing can become quite tough and even more so in Summer if the water temp reaches above 20 deg then the trout tend to shut down.

Spin fishing with lures for trout during the warmer weather can be quite frustrating, you have to keep persisting to catch a few fish. There are so many insect hatches all over the rivers and lakes that makes it very tough fishing for the spin fisher. Great conditions for the fly fisher though. The fly fisher will always do better than the spin fisher during the Summer months. You’ll see trout rising, sipping insects from the surface in most sections of long slow flowing runs. Then you will come across trout leaping from the river trying to snap up a caddis moth, dun or black spinner that is hovering above the water. I have seen some massive hatches of insects during my trout fishing days on rivers during the Summer. It’s these days on the river when you know you’re going to do it tough.

That’s when the fast water runs come into play as these will still be holding both browns and rainbow trout. It will be your best chance of catching a trout with a lure. Fishing fast water is not easy, it is rocky, slippery and very hard going in most sections of the river. Tough it out and you will be rewarded with some fine trout.

Tackle and Set Up

The rods, reels and line that I use for river fishing for trout all season are as follows: The rods are all 1.8meter Diawa Procast light weight 1kg-3kg coupled up with small Okuma 15a reels and 4lb clear or brown mono line to a swivel and anti-kink, from there it’s 400mm trace of 6lb mono with a snap swivel attached followed by a blade spinner on the snap swivel. An anti-kink to me is a must when using blade spinner as they stop line twist which occurs when spin fishing with blade spinners. I always fish as light as possible and the weight of my blade spinners are 1.5gms. These are a variety of Black Fury’s, Aglia’s and Bug spinners. The hard body lures are all floating models, 2-3gms in weight and range from 50-70mms in length. These are 0.5-1.2 mtr shallow running minnow type lures in rainbow and brown trout patterns, plus I do have a few small Ralala CD-1’s in rainbow and brown trout pattern too. When using hard body lures the anti-kink is not necessary. I have used a variety lures for close on 50 years now, blade spinners and hard body lures are the only type that I fish with.

I have been the Angling Club Champion for the past eight years in a row, so I know how good it gets when using light tackle.

If you have a set up that you’re comfortable with then don’t change it, you may just need to change your line to 4lb and purchase some new lures, and a different approach to your river fishing. I’m only stating the ones that I use have been successful for me, there are plenty of other models out there that will probably do the same job as mine. Remember the lighter your tackle the better your catch rate will be. Call into your local tackle store, they will have the variety of lures for what you’ll require for fishing the rivers.

How and Where To Fish

114 summer river

Click on the image for a larger plan

During the Summer, remember the long slow flowing stretches of a river will rarely give up a fish unless you are on them at first light or very late in the afternoon when the water temperature is much cooler and the sun is off the water. Fast water sections always fish well during the warmer weather as there is more oxygen in it created by water rushing over the rocky sections of the river. Trout will sit in small pockets behind rocks that have small flat water behind them and will pounce on anything that passes by. Fish can be found in small pockets of water along the river bank too. It is here that you will find Summer fishing for trout at it’s best.

I use small metal blade spinners and these work a treat in the fast water too. It’s just a matter of casting the spinner up and across the river, then by keeping the rod tip at approx 50-60degs to the water, retrieve the lure at the same speed as the flow of the river and hopefully you will soon bag a trout. By keeping the rod tip high it stops the spinner from bouncing on the rocky river bottom and also from possible snags. Another way is to cast on a slight angle up and across the river still with the rod tip high, very slow retrieve just to keep the line tight and let the spinner drift downstream with the flow of the river. Once the line and lure is opposite or has just passed you (facing the opposite side of the river) then slowly retrieve the line, this also produces many hookups.

This can be done by using small floating hard body lures too. Some sections of fast water will be fishless, but this is just a part of what you have to contend with when trout fishing in fast water. Do not bypass any water as you will be surprised where trout will be holding up. I have caught trout in water that many fisher’s would bypass as it’s only been no more than 70mms in depth.

The Weather

On bright sunny days with clear skies I always use the spinners with a black blade because trout’s eyes are very sensitive to light, so you should not be using a shiny or bright coloured lures in these conditions. To catch trout and be successful in doing so, you really have to be in the river wading for them. By being in the river you have more access to some of the best sections of a river that will be holding trout. Then it’s just a matter of casting into pockets of water and working the lure across the river and back to you at the same speed as the water.

If you retrieve the lure too fast it will more than likely spook the fish more rather than attract it, so getting the speed of the lure is quite necessary for a good catch rate.

If there are sections of the river were the sun is on it, then work the areas that have shade along them from the vegetation that grows along the river banks. These shaded areas regularly hold trout. Wide open spaces and slower shallow runs rarely hold trout on hot, clear days, but on overcast days the trout will venture into these sections of the river more often. Some of the best fishing in Summer is when it is a humid day with light drizzle. I have had many great sessions on rivers in these conditions. It’s worth getting a little damp being in the river in these conditions that’s for sure.

This is when you can use a variety of spinners and hard body lures of different colours. Metal blade spinners in black, copper and gold all will produce some very good catches of both brown and rainbow trout in this type of weather. Hard body minnow lures in the trout patterns previously mentioned earlier will still work too, as will many other hard body lures on the market today and there are plenty to choose from.

114 summer river trout mersey
The Mersey has some good rainbows.

Best Fishing Times

The best time to fish for trout throughout the Summer months is at first light up until around 9.00am or when the sun hits the water, after that then your mainly wasting your time. If you’re not an early riser then do as I do now days and that is go late in the afternoon. I will hit the river after 5.00pm when there is shaded areas along the river banks and you can work those areas and runs until the sun gets much lower and the whole river is covered in shade. Both early morning and late afternoon are some of the best times to be on a river especially the mornings when the air is crisp and cool.

So if you want to catch a few trout over the Summer period, then follow my lead and I’m sure you will pick up a fish or two.

Remember

  1. make sure to use light tackle.
  2. get in and wade the river.
  3. Fast Water — trout just love it in the Summer months.

Spinning from the river bank is really a waste of time, besides that, you are missing out on getting to some of the best sections of river that is holding fish.

One other thing is don’t bother fishing the small rivers and creeks at this time of year either, with low clear water trout spook at the slightest movement. You may still catch a few but they stress too easily in these conditions and their survival rate is very low. It’s best the small rivers are left alone during the Summer months..

As the Summer draws to an end and the weather starts to cool, then it’s time to change a few of the tactics with the river fishing. Trout will soon become more aggressive as Autumn approaches and they will take almost any thing you throw at them. This is when you can use a variety of coloured blade spinners. With the hard body lures, well I’ll still stick with the same models and patterns that I use each and every trout season rain, hail or shine.

Adrian Webb

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