Fishing Four Springs Lake
The new season is on us and with it comes the anticipation of another year's fishing. Will it be as good as last year - or maybe better?
In my role as President of the Longford Fishing Club, each opening day brings with it the filtering through of emailed reports of opening day success by our members.
I then pass that around to the rest of the club in the hope that it encourages those that are a bit hesitant to make the effort, get out of bed, pack some warm clothes, a thermos and grab their fishing gear in the fear that they may be missing out.
As you could imagine with over 220 members these reports can come in from anywhere, some of our club members make an "annual opening" pilgrimage to Woods Lake, others to the club's caravan at Arthurs Lake whilst those remaining take part in our first club competition of the year, held at Four Springs Lake.
If our Four Springs opening day competition lives up to the expectations we have come to expect from this water, we have a lot to look forward to.
"Fourseys" as we affectionately call it, is water that seems to always produce well at the start of each season. Its local resident trout seem keen to put on condition as quickly as they can, and the takes are often aggressive. It is a great water with many large fish.
Last year on opening day, club member Simon Green caught a rainbow exceeding six pounds, to win the competition for the day whilst the year before Travis Preece caught a brown trout of over seven pounds that was not beaten that year. Believe me when I say there are always tails of woe from unlucky anglers who talk about losing double figure fish at the boat.
Perhaps at any other water one would be seen as "stretching the truth", but our members (and indeed anyone who fishes this water on a regular basis) knows that there are plenty of leviathans swimming in its depths. This is thanks in large to the intensive stocking program that the Inland Fisheries undertakes each year.
What is the best method to use early in the season? To be honest it doesn't seem to matter, power bait fished from the shore, soft plastics, wet fly, lures, everybody seems to catch their fair share if they put in the effort. Certainly members of our club use all methods and all catch fish.
If bait fishing, being at the waters edge at daylight greatly improves your chances. The best period seems to be from dawn until around 9 am and going from past experience it usually goes a bit quiet after that.
Powerbait fished on a light line (6 pound or under) and with a hook that allows it to float mid water catches a lot of rainbows. Or the humble wattle grub or worm, free spooled back to the shore is also first rate. Leave the bail arm open and allow fish to run before striking. This usually ensures a solid hook up.
Last year, on opening day the Longford club had a breakfast on the shore at 9 am and most of the clubs bait fishers headed home shortly after. That being said most also had a smile on their faces as they put their catches in their cars. There were some big tails and tall tales as well. Most would either return later in the day or repeat the ritual on another morning soon.
It is my opinion that "fished correctly', soft plastic lures have no equal on this water. The secret is slow retrieves, very slow retrieves, long casts and small twitches. It is vitally important to ensure you keep the slack out of your line when fishing. When you give the rod a twitch make sure you wind the slack up and watch the line like a hawk. If you see any un-natural movement of the line - strike.
I find moving the rod sideways with the rod tip just in the water, keep in touch with the line and get ready to hang on. It is always a buzz when the line stops dead and the first fish of the season suddenly explodes out of the depths. I use four pound Fireline braid and spooled up with this you can feel every head shake.
Everyone has their favourite soft plastic, but for me, you can't go past the Yep Tassie Tackle three inch Flickbait in pumpkinseed colour. It might be hard to find them early in the season as most of the experienced fisherman on this water have bought up a good supply from local tackle stores. Olive gold, Salt N Pepper, Pearl White and Whitebait are also good.
Trolling lures on Four Springs brings with it much success and many of our members have their favourite colour. Rapala fire tigers are very popular as are reddish/gold colour lures known as "corrobarees" in the Loftys range (ask you local tackle store and I am sure they will know what you are asking for.)
One of our members uses a red and black spinner drifting out from the disabled persons jetty (opposite the boat ramp) with great success and works this area solid early on in the season. As the season progresses and the water heats up, the weed will appear in this area and continue until towards the end of the season making it all but impossible to fish with a lure. Until then the big fish renowned to inhabit that particular spot will it keep him going back time and time again.
Early in the season anything that resembles a Woolly Bugger pattern, especially in a purple colour works well. Like the soft plastics though, remember to fish it very, very slowly, using figure of eight retrieves with the rod tip pointed a few centimetres above the water. Be ready to detect the slightest resistance - it could be a monster, or just weed. Daylight and dusk are prime times.
As a mad keen fly fisherman that has discovered soft plastics, I tend to leave the fly rod in the cupboard until around late October. This is when the first of the mayflies really start to make their presence known. I then fish with a dry fly indicator and an orange bead head nymph as a dropper one metre under it. The results can be outstanding.
Over the past couple of seasons I have found that while trollers often catch more fish and in a quicker timeframe, they don't seem to be in the size class of those caught on bait or a slowly retrieved soft plastic. My opinion is that the bigger fish are still moving quite slowly and although interested, won't chase too hard or to fast, leaving that to the smaller ones. So slowly does it.
Best areas to try
As Four Springs lends itself to all methods of angling, your chances can be increased by fishing in the spots that suit the type of fishing you intend to do.
For example, trollers are best off fishing the Northern end of the Lake due to its increased depth and lesser weed growth that can be a nuisance especially as it increases in the warmer months ahead.
The Dam wall area seems to hold good numbers of rainbows and fishing around the trees on the point is often met with success. A run up along the trees north west of the boat ramp seems to produce as well.
Some of our club members are going to kill me for saying this, but without doubt to the best place to be early on in the season is around the disabled anglers platform - accessed by quite a long walk in from the boom gate. You will see this on the left, just before you head into the Four Springs track, you can't miss it, look for the parked cars!
Anywhere along that Southern shore or as we call it (Big Brownie Bay) aptly named for reasons that will come apparent if your luck is in and the fish are on the chew.
Another popular area for land based anglers wishing to bait fish is the grassy banks virtually opposite the dam wall at the northern end mentioned earlier, one again it's a bit of a walk from the car park but big fish come out of this area, regularly, especially in the first few weeks of the season every year. A word of warning: there are leeches in their seeming millions so the wearing of waders is advised.
Soft plastics and spinners
Once at the boat ramp and if you are lucky enough to have a boat, look to the north west and you will see a row of trees. A drift between that tree line and the far shoreline can be rewarding.
Depending on the wind direction, I like to drift from one end of that shore line to the other, where I start fishing is dictated by the prevailing weather conditions at the time.
Reasonably light jig heads should be used to keep your plastic just above the weed, I also like to use a jig head around 1/16th in weight , although it catches its fair share of weed, it also catches its fair share of fish.
I also recommend that you try for the "widest gape" in the hook that you can get for that weight, as it increases your hook ups, the fish quite often bite the tails only, if you find this is happening a lot without success, as soon as you feel the next hit, stop winding and count to three before resuming, they often come back for a second and third go, should you give them the opportunity.
Any shoreline left and right of the boat ramp and the Southern end, see notes mentioned in bait fishing and (Big Brownie Bay) as this is also a popular area for fly fishers especially from a boat early morning and late evening.
That being said, I suggest if on foot, walk, stop, look and walk again, if a fish is in close after snails, scud etc, you will see them, an accurate cast a couple of foot wide either side will see an aggressive bow wave charging at your fly.
I don't fish with a tippet less than 6 pound at this time of year, unless of course you are prepared to be disappointed with the inevitable bust offs that will come if you're not on your game.
As with all things you can benefit from other's advice and experience to help swing the balance your way, but nothing beats being in the right place at the right time. Success can be measured in many ways, from a bag of fish to just being out with your family or mates enjoying the day.