WHO. Well the two main species you can expect to target in Australia are the Brown and the Rainbow Trout. There are a few other species it’s possible to cross paths with like the Brook Trout but in reality the Brown and the Rainbow will be the vast bulk of what you will catch. Size can vary incredibly from the 15cm “spotted wrigglers” right up to 5kgs or more. Most fish will be in that 500 gram to 2kg mark and anywhere in that range is fun. One of the best things about Trout is that they scale very well, by which I mean catching smaller fish in tiny water on light gear is just as much fun as bigger fish in bigger water. As an introduced species they are slightly different to Australian freshwater natives in that they are shorter lived which means their biological urge to eat and breed is fairly high. This has the effect of making them fairly easy to catch as they are hardwired to eat.
WHERE. This is the part that was lost on me for a very long time. I always thought they came from far off mountain streams that required a four day hike or hoy-foloy private dams and streams and you needed $5000 worth of gear to get you started. The truth is they are quite a lot closer than this. With specific regard to the Sydney area, which is where I have done most of my fishing, pretty much anything that runs into Warragamba Dam holds Trout and if you are from the Sydney area I’m pretty sure you could spend a decade just searching the major rivers that flow into it and the smaller rivers and tiny creeks that run off them. As for the rest of the country, Victoria is well known for its alpine waters holding lots of Trout and there are plenty of dams within a few hours of Melbourne that are home to huge Trout. The ACT / Monaro / Snowy Mountains area is another obvious and well know one and the same as Warragamba Dam, you can pretty much follow any river that flows into Eucumbene or Jindabyne and find Trout. North of Sydney, the New England area is also a hot spot for trout and whilst there isn’t an easy “follow the river back to dam X”, a bit of an internet search will yield plenty of places to start.
Trout like cool, clear running water. It doesn’t need to be gin clear and in fact they can get a little fussy when it is really clear but there is a point where I don’t think it looks “Trouty” and it starts looking like Carp or Redfin water. As a general rule I want the water deep enough or stained enough that the fish are not obvious. If you can see them they can see you…… sometimes they may not care that they see you but most of the time they do. Dams are a different kettle of fish (pun intended) and if they are in there they have to be somewhere but remember they can go quite deep and find the cool clear water they want even if the top of the water is chocolate from rain. Having said that, if its been raining then the rivers are where the fun is at anyway.
WHEN. Probably more than any fish I have targeted, Trout fishing waxes and wanes with the rain and a lack of rain makes the fishing tough and in many cases the occurrence of rain is the trigger to get into high gear. You could probably also just say “water flow” as ice melting off snowfields has the same effect as rain and the spring melt can be prime time to catch Rainbow Trout. Autumn and Spring have been good to me so far but I’m also looking forward to a Summer bite this year up in the Snowies when the bugs are hatching and they are freely feeding on the surface.
HOW. This portion could literally fill an encyclopaedia but the idea here is to give you the basics to get started. Suffice to say, Trout are born to eat and they are extremely adaptable and 10 pound fish can live on a diet of things so small you can hardly see them. I have cleaned fish that were full of insect larvae as well as a few yabbys, that ate a lure that could only represent a small fish. They can become fairly locked in on feeding upon one particular thing at times but even then they seem to me to be pretty curious and will whack a lure just to see what it is.
Don’t be fooled, you can certainly up the challenge of Trout fishing with things like fly fishing but spin fishing for them really isn’t rocket science and the great news is that your Bream or light Bass gear is perfect. As well as your Bream lures (some of which are Trout lures being sold as Bream lures anyway). Whether you prefer braid or fluro, soft plastics or hardbodies, throw them in Trout water and you will catch fish. As with everything, lighter line means more bites and while I don’t dispute 15 pound line might work 3 or 4 pound will work better. It’s good advice also to cover plenty of water when on a river as the fish tend to post up in a pool, sit just out of the current and wait for food to come to them. In dams it can almost be the opposite as fish tend to swim a “beat” around the lake or dam and you can cast in the same spot until a fish swims past (not my cup of tea but some of the biggest get caught that way)
The best advice I can give is to try Trout fishing. The drought that kept the rivers low and the fishing ordinary is gone and the last few years have been great. The only thing certain in Australia is that there is another drought around the corner where the fishing wont be as good. You probably already have the gear and you probably live a lot closer to Trout water than you think.