Slow down and give the Winter trout waters a tryLeroy Tirant gets beaten by his son and learns a Winter lesson.
There have been many articles over time about fishing in winter. I love targeting Tasmania's fish rich lakes on clear crisp winter days, perhaps almost romanticising it, because it's quite easy once home and warm to forget how really cold it was-and how hard it was to finally find feeding fish. These can be swimming lethargically in 30 feet of water.
Most of my fishing is done from a boat, but occasionally and it seems only in winter, my young bloke and I will wander around the shoreline, mainly for his sake more than mine because he loves discovering things. At five years of age he competently fishes on his own with little instruction from his dad. As with most youngsters though he can become annoyed if he thinks I'm taking over.
It's whilst working the shoreline edges that I do start to appreciate winter fishing. It's probably the only time of year I do this as it's very cold traversing a lake in a boat at any speed. Fishing from the bank only really becomes productive in winter once the day and lake edges have started to warm up a bit.
You don't need to rush your mornings and sleeping in followed by a casual breakfast sounds good to me these days especially when I'm fishing with my son Ethan. I don't want to ruin his idea of fun when fishing by having him up at the crack of dawn and making him walk miles and miles for little return.
Ethan, just by being there, makes me slow down and work the water more efficiently, and usually this is more rewarding fish wise. We have to realize that there are always fish working a beat on a lake's shoreline and although we may not see them, and may cast various lures and flies around them, just because they don't take doesn't mean they aren't there. We have to be more thorough in our approach.
A big tip in winter that I've found works for me is to slow your retrieves down dramatically. I found this out whilst watching my young bloke outfish me on a recent outing at Lake Macintosh. Whilst working a shoreline with the ever reliable Gary Glitter soft plastic he hooked and landed a couple of fish in quick succession whilst I had none. It was because whilst retrieving his lure he would stop and stare with his neck cranked back at the eagle flying over head or he would stop and look at his feet where a bug was crawling past. It was at these times when his lure was doing nothing that he would hook up. It seemed being easily distracted was the key. The moment of truth was when he wanted to changed to a bibbed minnow diving lure that I thought he would be tested, but no, his distracted retrieve worked just as well for him with a totally different lure.
Obviously trout can't be bothered doing much in the cold-much the same as me, and whilst the majority of fish are in spawning mode many don't make the run, yes that's right, not all trout will spawn every year. I believe that a couple of different things happen to a trout's thinking in winter and I may be wrong and will remain corrected by science boffin's that know a great deal more than I.
From what I've seen I believe the following to be true. Firstly the browns I normally see and catch on particular shores often aren't there in winter but the rainbows are, so does it stand to reason to think that once the dominant browns have taken off to spawn the lesser rainbows move in to take advantage of the empty shoreline?
Secondly I find bright reflective colours especially reds and pinks to really effective at this time of the year and find the fish hit with such aggression that the lure is almost entirely swallowed down the gullet. Is this red and pink thing related to spawning time? I'd be interested to hear from anyone that has a different theory.
If you don't fish in winter or at least don't take the opportunity to I think your missing out. I've never understood why so many good anglers hung up their rods and put their gear away until the start of next season. In fact it seemed odd to me that diehard anglers can go for so long without casting a lure. Doesn't it seem odd to you?
If you do make the effort to get out regardless of where you go, West coast or the Central highlands you will find fish that will take a lure or bait in winter, and yes its freezing ass cold but clear blue sky days and watching your kids whom don't feel the cold enjoy a day outdoors is reward enough.
- Fishing rods can freeze and will explode when you hook a fish so be aware of water on your rod.
- Hypothermia is deadly so be aware of clues to the onsets and watch your mates or kids for signs.
- Slow down retrieves.
- Use bright reds and pink colors on lures. Try the Berkley TTails or Squidgies.
- Dress appropriately, eat well and keep moving and you can comfortably fish our lakes in winter.
Lakes open over Winter
- Craigbourne Dam (empty so don't bother).
- Great Lake (except Canal Bay). Fantastic water all year.
- Lakes Barrington, Burbury, Gordon, Pedder, Meadowbank and Brushy Lagoon. All great waters well worth a look.