Some may think that a boat is a must to catch trout in lakes and dams but that is certainly not the case. Walking the banks searching for a monster browns or a hard fighting rainbow is one of my favourite types of fishing.
Lure fishing land based has many positives but not being prepared can make a trip miserable. Not bringing the right gear or using the wrong lure for the situation may leave you wet, cold and fishless. This article will explain the gear that is needed, how to find the fish and how to target them effectively.
Selecting your Gear
Knowing what to pack is unquestionably the most important thing when planning a trip to your next trout dam. Many of the dams in NSW and Victoria are high in the mountains which means the temperature is much colder than the rest of the country. This is why the right gear must be worn to keep warm in the cooler temperatures.
Dams like Eucumbene, Jindabyne and Tangtangra are the three most well-known dams in the Snowy Mountains. The weather can change from clear and sunny to miserable, wet and windy all in one day. Clothing to keep warm and dry is essential.
Fortunately not every trout fishing adventure coincides with poor weather. Some days will be perfect, it’s just a matter of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
This is a list of the clothing I will pack when heading off trout fishing (remember to always prepare for the worst):
- Gumboots or waders
- Warm socks
- Thermal pants
- Casual water resistant pants
- Thermal top
- Fishing jersey
- Thin jumper
- Thick jumper
- Rain coat
- Warm gloves
Land based fishing usually consists of walking the banks for a few hours or even a full day. No matter how long you are walking the edges for a good sized back pack is a must to hold everything but remember to try and pack light, especially when you are heading off for a full day. Every time you pack something into your bag, ask yourself the question, “Do I need or will I use this?” If the answer is no, leave it behind.
This is a list of what I pack:
- Small lure box filled with a range of lures; plastics, Jigheads, hard bodies, tassies, celtas and any of your other favourite trout lures
- Small pair of scissors
- Tape measure (always need something to measure that monster fish)
- Spare leader 4, 6 & 8lb
- First aid kit (keep this small)
- Small net (clipped to the side of my back pack)
- Food (e.g. snack bars and fruit)
The next bit of gear is a bit more personal to the angler. There is no wrong rod and reel but there sure are rods and reels that will make land based trout fishing easier. The right gear will help you cast further, fight the fish better and basically catch more trout.
These days there are thousands of different rods and reels on the market. For trout I absolutely recommend a spin setup. Any size from 1000-2500 will be perfect. A small reel is needed as it will fill up properly with thin braid allowing you to cast further. Matched with the reel needs to also be a light rod.
You will need a long rod as it will help you to cast further and feel the light lures. Try to use something that’s at least 7ft in length and anything up to 7ft6in. The length in the rod will also help you to dictate the fight and this is extremely important when fishing land based. You cannot move into deeper water and by bringing the fish into the shallows can cause danger as the fish will be swimming close to rocks and logs which will make short work of a light leader.
The weight rating for the rod is a personal choice depending on how much of a fight you want. The lighter the rod and the more fun the fight will be.
At the light end of the scale is a 1-3 kg rod. This is great for a fun fight but landing a big trout on that set up will be a challenge. 2-4kg or 2-5kg is more ideal for these large lake trout. Remember there are a range of different sizes and it’s just a matter of finding what works for you.
Finding Feeding Trout
Much like other styles of fishing the more time you put in and the more water you cover, the more fish will be landed. Land based for trout is the same but knowing where to spend most your time can save you precious time. Trout will be spread all throughout most dams but the key to the puzzle is finding the food. Wherever the food is, the fish will be and most importantly they will be feeding.
The key is to concentrate on particular areas where the signs are right for feeding trout. The three main areas to spend time on are; grassy banks, wind effected bays and rocky flats. Active trout will be found in these three areas and that’s where your footprints should be left when walking the banks.
Different times of day will also determine where the fish will be. For example the fish will sit high in the water column and will push up close to the banks during the early hours of the day. This is when you want to be fishing on the grassy flats.
During the middle of the day the fish will sit deeper and this is when you’ll need to make longer casts. Fishing in wind affected areas will also be more common in the afternoon once the wind has picked up.
When fishing land based, you are very close to the water level and seeing the bottom is easier than from a boat. Using your vision to spot fish or signs of fish is vital to finding trout and a quality pair of polarised sunglasses is almost a must. You need to be able to cut through the surface glare so you can see when a fish is following your lure, which is a common occurrence with this style of fishing.
My favourite sunglasses are the Spotters range and in particular the Photochromic Penetrator lens. This is perfect for most freshwater situations include spotting following trout.
Watching the surface in low light periods is another great way to spot feeding trout. A rise or a trouts back out of the water should get you exited because those trout are usually hungry and aggressive.
Choosing the right lure is another key aspect that you need to think about. Some days they may smash everything you throw at them but other days they can be very picky on what lure they want to take.
What makes this choice even harder is the massive range of trout lures available. From the commonly known Tassie devil to the natural soft plastic, there are so many choices. Over the last couple of years I have finally found a hand full of lures that work consistently for me.
Picking out the right lure is all about about assessing your situation. For example a heavy lipless crankbait wouldn’t be used in 1 metre of water on a grassy bank because it would pick up weed and drag the bottom. Certain lures excel in certain areas and it’s all about working out what lure is right for where you are fishing.
Below is a list of my top 3 favourite land based trout lures:
Picking the right lure is one step but knowing how to work the lure is almost just as important. Every different lure is going to be retrieved differently but it is key to match your retrieval to what the fish are feeding on.
For example, if working a clay bank where yabby’s are living the hop and drop technique with a soft plastic is the perfect imitating of a yabby jumping off the bottom. Another great technique is the fast roll. Most of the time you might hear the phrase ‘slow roll’ but trout actually prefer the lure flying past them (most of the time).
Trout are one of the quickest freshwater fish in Australia and if they see your lure going past they will quickly chase it down. Matched with the right weight jig head a soft plastic can be skimmed across the bottom with speed and the trout love it.
Imitating an injured bait fish will also attract trout. The best way to perform this technique is by flicking your rod tip every 3 seconds. Sometimes a slow flick will work and sometimes a fast flick, change it up until you figure out what works. Change techniques every couple casts and find out how the fish like the lure presented on the day.
Hopefully after reading you will be keen to try your local trout dam or make the drive to the Snowy Mountains. Land based trout fishing can be so rewarding after a long walk then catching a trophy sized fish. There are so many different options to try when walking the banks. Fish can be caught with so many different tactics and techniques. Landing a fish from the bank is certainly a challenge but if hard work is put in, fish will be caught consistently. Land based fishing is always exciting and you never know what is around the next bay.