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Early season fishing options

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A trout dimples as it feeds in the flooded margins of the Leven River - the perfect spot to cast a worm

One of the most productive methods of catching trout early in the season is bait fishing in our rivers. Bait fishing is an ideal way to spend relaxing time away from our busy modern life with friends and family.

There are many rivers around the state that are ideal for bait fishing. Some suggestions include the South Esk, Mersey, Derwent, Huon, Leven, Tyenna and Meander rivers. However most rivers contain brown trout that are ready to be caught.

To be successful at bait fishing is you have to have the right gear set up. You only need light line (3 to 5 Kilogram breaking strain line is ideal). You also want the lightest sinker you can get away with casting, or even better use no sinker at all.

Sinkers need to be set up on a running sinker rig. This means having a swivel in the line approximately 30cm above the hook. Put your sinker in line above this swivel so it can’t run down the line onto the hook.

Next you’ll need some bait. Fortunately the best bait for fishing in our rivers is found in the garden… Worms! These are easy to put onto the hook too, just thread the hook through the worm a few times.

Other baits you could try are wattle grubs (you can buy these at a lot of the tackle stores). Powerbait is also available at tackle shops, although this works much better in the lakes that we transfer rainbow trout into.

Some spots on rivers are much better for bait fishing than others. At this time of year the trick is to find the flooded backwaters and pools with little flow. Using bait will not work as well in the faster water.

Find a nice low flow area of the river and cast your bait into it. It is important when you do this to leave the bail of the reel open. This is so the fish can pick up the bait and take line and run with it for a while. If the fish eats your bait and feels the line tighten it will drop your bait before it swallows it.

The trick is to keep an eye on the line. If it starts to move then it is likely you have a fish on! It always pays to wait about a minute after you see the line move to give the fish a chance to swallow the bait properly. Once you have waited a minute it is time to wind in your catch!

The best time to go bait fishing in our rivers is after a bit of rain as the river is rising. When this happens the trout go searching for food that has washed into the river, or that has been inundated by the rising waters. You don’t have to cast out far, often the fish are right near the bank looking for food on the freshly flooded ground. If you can find an area with a paddock drain or small stream running into a main river, these are real hot spots to try.

So get the family together, turn off the X Box and leave your phone at home. Buy a licence then head out and give it a try and spend some quality time at our fantastic inland waters. With a bit of luck, you might be able to catch a dinner that will be one for the family to remember…

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