Brown trout are highly prized captures here in WA.
So you want to catch a trout?
Well the first place to start is by getting a freshwater fishing licence. Once this is done you are able to hit some freshwater to start on your epic journey.
The next thing to consider is if you really want to go down this path! Trout are one species that can take over your life and have you thinking of nothing else. The places these fish can take you are nothing short of breathtaking and there is that certain something about catching fish in fresh water.
Each year, tens of thousands of trout are released into many dams and rivers throughout WA’s south west. These are all bred in captivity at the Pemberton Fish hatchery and either released as fry, yearlings or ex brood stock, and range from a couple of centimetres in size to a kilo plus sized fish.
Catching trout can be a very hit and miss fishing trip, however it is not uncommon for people to strike fish on their first outing, which only enhances the addictive nature of trout fishing. Other anglers can go many times before they get their first encounter.
Rigs and Techniques
Trout can be caught on all manner of fishing techniques, including bait, lures, and fly. Probably the most popular is lure fishing, but we will cover more on lures a bit later.
When bait fishing for trout the safest bet is to use bait that is available in the area where you intend to fish, one of the most popular being worms suspended under a float and cast out onto a dam or river. You can also use insects, beetles or if you are prepared to look for them mudeyes, which are the water stage of a dragon fly. The key here is to use a light leader of 6 or 8 pound in a clear monofilament or fluorocarbon.
Change the depth of the bait by sliding the float up and down until you get a result. This method is particularly good for children as the float gives them something to watch, when the float goes under the waters surface, strike and see if you come up tight on your first trout.
A Mudeye found living under a rock is great trout bait
Lure fishing is far more hands on and gives you the ability to cover a lot more water. The general consensus is to use lures that are natural colours, ie. green, brown, olive and yellow are very popular. Many use lures that actually mimic the look of the trout themselves and are proven catchers.
Lures in the size range of 2 to 5cm is usually all that is needed, the easiest lures are small floating hard bodies. Make short searching casts across and up current and wind fast enough that the lures swims with a wobble.
For streams and rivers, a smaller lure is generally better but for dams and lakes, a larger lure can often be used so that you can cast it further and cover more ground. Another favourite for lakes and dams are bladed spinners. These are made of metal and will allow for long casts. While they might look odd to many anglers, they are very effective when the right retrieve and or colour combination is found.
If fishing a dam or lake the best approach is to keep moving around the bank casting and retrieving. The theory is that eventually you will cover a fish with a cast and you will catch it. It also helps to concentrate your efforts on areas that may hold more fish than just open plain banks of dirt. Places worth putting in extra casts are, areas of rock, points or headlands, areas with lots of weed, places where rivers or streams flow into the waterbody as well as banks with deeper water close to shore and submerged river beds.
If you fish hard bodied lures, it is also a good idea to vary the retrieve often, fast, slow twitchy, steady and so on. You can never vary your retrieve too much. Eventually you will find something that gets the trouts attention and gets results.
Soft plastics are pretty much the same deal, soft plastics fished on a lead head jig are very versatile as you will be able to fish, shallow, deep and everything in between, obviously in areas of heavy timber or rocks you might get a few snags, so keep an eye on what is happening in the water and vary your retrieve depth accordingly.
Small streams should not be overlooked and can be great fun fishing with small lures.
Fly fishing is the most challenging way to chase trout and can be very rewarding and extremely frustrating at times. More often than not many anglers who do well with lures will usually take up fly fishing at some stage. It is an accessory sport and having the right gear will make your life a whole lot easier. If you decide you want to give fly fishing a go, try and find someone that you know to go out with and give you a try and a few pointers before you get stuck into buying your own outfit.
It is very hard to give advice about fly fishing as it could take up ten articles in itself, but if you are keen and have the outfit, some good flies for WA waters are Woolly Buggers, Mrs Simpson, small bead head nymphs in olive or black and the Parsons Glory. The list of flies are endless and will all catch at varying times, however this short list is a pretty good place to start.
Stream fishing for trout is probably one of the most exciting forms of trout fishing. It does not take a big stream to hold fish, so if it looks fishy give it a go, you might just get the surprise of your life! Streams with lures are usually best fished with short, light rods. The length is primarily to avoid getting your lure tangled in every tree or shrub close to the waters edge. It can get frustrating at times but when the effort pays off it is worth it.
After a bit of success you will soon start to find where the fish prefer to sit in the river’s flow; this is called the preferred lie. River bends, boulders and small areas of white water are likely spots, as the fish like to sit in areas where the water will flow past them without the trout having to do too much work to hold its position. Fish will shoot out from their lie to grab passing food only to return back to the exact same spot to wait for more food.
When stream or river fishing, it is wise to wear clothing that fits in with the environment and will not alert the fish to you being there. Likewise, not making too much noise is important as well. Probably of most importance when on smaller streams is to only ever fish from a downstream to upstream direction.
Redfin perch will also be encountered while chasing trout. Camo clothing will help you sneak up on fish without them knowing you are there.
Looking for features in Dams such as this rocky bank will help increase your chances in dams.
Where to Catch
Rules and Regulations
The south-west freshwater angling season is open from 1 September to 30 June the following year.
Inland waters south of Greenough (29°S latitude) and above the tidal influence are closed to all angling for freshwater fish from 1 July to 31 August, annually. However, some waters are open for freshwater angling all year. No fishing is permitted in the Shannon River at any time.
It is important to note that fishing is prohibited in water catchment dams and the rivers that flow into them. Fisheries take the matter very seriously and enforce hefty fines for fishing these bodies of water. With all the fantastic, legally fishable locations available in the State’s south west, it’s simply not worth the risk.
There are a number of other Fisheries rules that need to be adhered to while fishing for trout such as bag limits and size restrictions. You will be made aware of these rules when you get your licence but you can have a read of them here as well.