Trout - a beginner's guide

Andrew Richardson
I doubt that I'm alone in thinking the new trout season has come around rather quickly again this year. It hardly seems like twelve months ago I was messing about, throwing lures to the wide blue yonder at Four Springs Lake on opening day 2005.

Passing the throngs of fishermen lining the shore that day, many holding impressive-sized catches, I had to bide my time until I was lucky enough to hook a nice rainbow of aroundc1.5 kilo late in the afternoon.
I enjoyed my first opening day at this popular lake. The atmosphere there was one of excitement and I spoke to many people. All were friendly and seemingly happy to be back doing what they enjoy.
But what about the anglers out there who have never fished for trout at all? To you, this is a call!

I'm sure there are dedicated salt-water anglers who have often thought they might like to give trout fishing a try. Perhaps they have seen the TV shows or read articles in this magazine and thought trout fishing sounded like a good thing, but for whatever reason, have never come around to giving it a go. If you fall into this category, or indeed have never fished at all previously, then here's a few pointers to get you started.

Buy a license
To most this is obvious. To the novice it may not be so plain. So let it be known that to fish for trout in inland waters in Tasmania you must obtain an angling license. These are available from all tackle stores and also from Service Tasmania. Cost will vary, depending on the type of license you purchase and the timeframe for which you take it.

Rod and Reel selection
When I was a child and first started fishing my choice was very limited.
Firstly, a rod and reel would set my Mum and Dad back a fair whack of their weekly wage...  
Secondly it had to be multi-purpose to cover everything from creek fishing to the then notorious oyster snags of the Deviot jetty on the Tamar River.
I chose a rod and reel (or rather - had a rod and reel chosen for me!) that would cope with the second option rather better than the first, and as such my early trout fishing was a bit of a battle.
Trying to cast a six gram lure, or a worm on a hook with no sinker, using a five-foot heavy action rod, large reel and heavy line is not recommended if you want to cast more than ten metres or so.
So when purchasing a rod and reel combo for your first foray into trout fishing go for something around six-foot with a smallish reel, spooled with light line.
Local tackle stores will stock these combo's by the dozen and all are pretty good value for the beginner.
Most will set you back somewhere in the order of fifty to seventy dollars, which is quite a bit easier on the hip pocket today than something similar was twenty-odd years ago.

A visit to your local tackle store is again recommended. The guys and girls who work in these stores are usually good natured and willing to help out someone wanting to try fishing of any kind for the first time.
You can get caught though. When I first bought some mudeyes from a particular tackle store I explained to the salesperson that I had not fished with them before. I ended up walking out of that shop with all kinds of floats; sinkers and hook arrangements that set me back nearly fifty dollars. I later found out a simple bubble float and hook would have sufficed.
That shop is no longer in business, so perhaps I was not alone in feeling somewhat naïve and ripped off-
However, in all my years of buying tackle, that experience is the only negative one that I can recall. Asking for advice at a tackle store is not something that I am afraid to do even though I have been fishing for many years. Generally the salespeople have been excellent.
My Advice - buy tackle that suits where you plan to fish.
I will be heading back out to Four Springs Lake for opening day this year, again fishing lures, so if you plan to follow suit and do some shore based spinning the following lures are recommended to have in your tackle box.
I would recommend a couple of spinners, perhaps one in green and gold, as well as one black and red in colour. Added to that a spinner in black and gold, or in silver, and you'll be well on your way to catching a trout or two.
As well as spinners, have a metal "spoon" lure or two on hand. A plain silver "Wonder wobbler" has caught me as many trout as any other lure I own. Other favorites of mine include a "Wonder krockodile" in green and gold as well as a "Pegron" spoon in red.
"Cobra'-style lures should also be present in your tackle box. These hard-plastic bodied lures again come in many different colors though only really vary in shape and action by their differing sizes. Brown and black, green and gold (there's a trend occurring here isn't there?!) and black and red colored cobras have worked successfully for me in the past.
When fishing with spinners, spoons and cobras be sure to attach a swivel or "anti-kink" to your line forty centimeters or so from the lure itself. This will help eliminate line twist.
Finally buy some soft-plastics and give them a go. Be sure to match the size of your jig-head to the size of the plastic bodies you are purchasing, and any light colored "minnow" should do the trick if the fish are biting.
Now this may seem a lot, but providing you don't buy dozens of each lure then it will not cost you an arm and a leg.
Spinners, cobras and spoons range in price, but are usually around five or six dollars each. A packet of soft plastic "minnows" will set you back around eight dollars, and a packet of jig heads about the same.

The most simple and traditional method of all trout fishing is bait fishing.
If you've got a garden then you've probably got worms; earth worms that is. Trout have been feasting on these babies since year dot and they will still surely catch you a fish or two today.
One of my favorite pastimes as a kid was to find a creek and flick a worm on a hook just over the side of the bank, hoping a hungry trout may be lurking. I'd let the worm sink into the water for a minute or so before moving further along the creek and repeating the process. This method can be particularly effective early in the season when the creeks and rivers are in flood.
Mudeyes, the larva form of the dragonfly, can be purchased from most tackle shops and are effective bait when fished beneath a bubble float. The experts recommend fishing these as close to the bottom as possible, so a bit of educated guesswork is required. But if the trout are hungry these baits can be dynamite.
As with mudeyes, grubs can also be purchased. These are best fished on the bottom, though can be floated or even trolled slowly. Grubs are very effective for catching trout especially in the larger lakes.

Fly fishing
Regarded as the "purest" form of trout fishing, fly-fishing is indeed a specialized caper. However don't let this turn you away, practice is the only way to learn. Fishing with baits or lures will probably see earlier success in catching a trout than fishing with a fly will, but fly-fishing is certainly an enjoyable pastime.
Fly-fishing is a lot like playing the piano.
Are you wondering what on earth I'm on about?  Let me explain-
How many people do you know who can play "Twinkle twinkle little star" or "Chopsticks" on the piano?
I bet most of your friends can, and maybe you can too.
Now, how many people do you know who play piano reading from sheet music, with both hands, and actually make it sound really good?
I bet the numbers are much, much lower.
Expert fly fishermen are a lot like the experienced pianist. These are people who have spent a lot of time practicing and refining their craft.
As such, using this analogy, I am very much a "Chopsticks" player when it comes to fly fishing. Thus I will point any newcomer in the direction of one of our states fabulous fly fishing guides for much better assistance than I can offer.
So I hope all of this has been of some assistance.
Trout fishing is something I was brought up with and has always been a part of my life. Sometimes it has been almost an obsession, but mostly a hobby that I enjoy doing when I get the chance. Moreover I have always enjoyed getting my backside out of the house and trying to trick a trout into biting whatever bait, lure or fly is on the end of my line. Mostly this has been done in some quiet area of the state where nothing else seems to matter but the scenery, the peacefulness and of course the fishing.
I recommend those who have never tried, to give trout fishing a go this new season.

Andrew Richardson

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