Scott’s Species – brown trout, a memorable freshwater catch

They might be an introduced species, but I must admit I love brown trout. They hold a special place in my angling heart, Scott Coghlan of the Western Angler writes, perhaps as a result of several trips to New Zealand to sight fish for them in the South Island’s gin-clear rivers.

Brown trout, Salmo trutta

Eating: 3 stars

ID: Brown to olive colouration, with dark spots all along side, some red.

Fishing for brown trout in WA is a very different experience to other parts of the world like NZ, but that doesn’t mean some very good fish can’t be caught and each one is memorable.

Recfishwest Life Member Ian Sewell with one of those NZ brown trout that Scott Coghlan dreams about.

For many years I only dreamed of catching a brown trout, until I caught a couple of rippers in one day on the Lefroy Brook.

Using spinning gear and a floating bibbed minnow, I picked up the pair along the Thompson’s Flats stretch, the second an absolute thumper than would have gone over 5lb in the old.

I floated my lure around a bend and pulled it past a corner where a tree pushed out into the flow.

The big brown came out from under the tree and nailed my lure, for a most memorable capture.

Browns are a great looking fish and the fact they are relatively rare in WA, and can grow a bit bigger than rainbows, makes them an intoxicating target in my eyes.

I have a few locations that are reliable producers of browns, mainly around Pemberton.

The Warren River and Lefroy Brook are likely spots to try and are stocked with them each year, as is Big Brook Dam.

Harvey Dam is another good spot for browns and I’ve caught them in some locations I never expected to find them, including one little scarp stream.

Many of the biggest browns caught in WA are ex-broodstock fish from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s Pemberton-based hatchery, but there are truly wild big browns to be caught.

Check out this underwater shot photographer Angus Line took of one of the ex-broodstock brown trout being released at Troutfest. Picture: Angus Line

One location near Harvey used to have a great self-sustaining brown population, but it no longer open to fishing.

Browns certainly offer a more challenging target normally than the more aggressive rainbows, usually holding in slower water and more alert to movement nearby.

Generally similar tactics to fishing for rainbows apply though, often dictated by the spots where you fish.

As with rainbows, spinning with lures, bait fishing and fly fishing are all options in dams like Harvey, Big Brook and Drakesbrook.

The latter location was stocked, with some big fish released at Recfishwest and the Shire of Waroona’s Troutfest community fish stocking event in recent years.

At times browns will hunt after dark around creek mouths and they also like to cruise areas of slow water away from the main flow in rivers.

Although usually cautious I remember seeing tiny minnows spray out of the water in a Pemberton stream as a big brown chased them into the shallows.

I have also been on dams during insect hatches and browns will rise repeatedly when this happens.

Trolling lures is a good way to cover dams until you find a fish and some big browns get caught this way.

Angus Line tempted this brown trout on fly at Lake Navarino.

Most anglers will encounter browns as an occasional catch while chasing rainbows, but if you want to target them having a look at the annual trout stocking locations on the Recfishwest’s ‘I Love Fishing’ website is a good place to start.

This will tell you where they have been stocked. Click here to see.

In dams, try around creek mouths, flooded banks or submerged logs or trees.

With rivers, the key to finding browns is working out where the fish will be holding and getting your offering into that area.

The sort of wading and spotting fish they do in NZ is barely an option in WA, so we have to be more creative locally.

Although browns tend to hold in slower water than rainbows, they will still position themselves similarly, looking for holding stations where food is brought to them.

Freshwater fanatic Giordano Gervasi is very coy when it comes to his South West secret spots.

Look for rocks or logs that break the current and offer them a spot to hold without expending too much energy.

Sharp bends in river like the one mentioned earlier that offer a quiet area downstream of them are always worth a try.

For trout I always like small 5cm to 7cm floating bibbed minnows as I can let them drift downstream and then retrieve them through likely areas, particularly important when casting is limited or almost impossible.

Upstream fly fishing so popular elsewhere in world is impossible in most areas, so similar tactics on fly are often used and I have caught most local browns on a Woolly Bugger, weighted or unweighted depending on water flow.

Most WA fish caught will be 30cm to 50cm but bigger ones to 4kg do exist and the sight of a big buck-jawed male brown is unforgettable.

A rare WA gem, browns are a beautiful fish and once you’ve caught one you’ll certainly want to find more. Don’t forget a freshwater fishing licence is required to catch trout in WA!

Southern Forests Freshwater Angling Club’s Simon Holland with a lovely Big Brook brown.

Get ‘trout and about’ in our South West freshwater ways and give trout fishing a go

Trout fishing in the South West’s freshwater fishery is a great way to catch beautiful fish in some truly scenic settings and isn’t that hard to do.

In this article, Recfishwest staff member and self-confessed ‘trout tragic’, Nick Drummond, takes a look at some of the basics you need to know to give this fun form of fishing a go, as we gear up for our annual Troutfest event on Saturday, August 31.  Continue reading “Get ‘trout and about’ in our South West freshwater ways and give trout fishing a go”

Freshwater fishing fun: Troutfest 2018 in pictures

Beautiful clear skies on the first day of spring set the scene for this year’s second annual Troutfest event at Drakesbrook Weir, Waroona.

It was better than we anticipated with over 400 people joining us to celebrate all things freshwater fishing at the community stocking event.

With the help of Recfishwest and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) fishers were given a licence free weekend allowing them to try their hand at freshwater fishing over the Fathers’ Day weekend.

With many people arriving early, just to get their lines in the water, it was evident that fishers were keen to land a prized trout or two and learn about freshwater fishing in Peel and the South West.

On the day, free rod hire was available for those that wanted to try their luck, free fishing tuition taught by our passionate Recfishwest fishing clinics instructors, as well as coarse fishing tuition, fly casting demonstrations with some of WA’s best fly fishers from the Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA) and an excellent education display by DPIRD.

The Hobie kayak and Paddleboard demonstrations run by our partner Getaway Outdoors were a hit with many people taking the opportunity to give it a try on the dam and the Lions Club put on a delicious BBQ for everyone.

The day’s major highlight was the exciting fish release when the community took take part in hand-releasing more than 200 advanced yearlings (18-month-old fish), 18,000 rainbow fry trout (two-month-old fish), 50 ex-broodstock rainbow and 12 ex-broodstock brown trout (fish used for breeding that are between two years old and five years old).

Click here to find out more about freshwater stocking and where this year’s fish have been stocked.

It was with the community’s attendance and support from our volunteers that Troutfest was able to increase the awareness of freshwater fishing in the South West, and provide families the opportunity to see, touch and catch freshwater species.

In previous years, the first week of spring marked the traditional opening of the South West freshwater fishing season but with improved fisheries management strategies now in place, we are fortunate to enjoy freshwater fishing all year round and we’re predicting with the recent rainfall of late, we’re in for one of the best freshwater fishing season we’ve seen in 20 years!

Troutfest definitely highlighted how good freshwater fishing can be, with some excellent catches of rainbow trout coming from the dam along with brown trout and redfin perch being caught at other nearby stocked waterways.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us and we hope you enjoy the slideshow below. Please save any images, share with your friends and family and continue tagging us in your images using the hashtag #RecfishwestTroutfest2018 and/or @Recfishwest.

We look forward to seeing you at a bigger and better Troutfest in 2019.

Missed this year’s TroutFest? Stay tuned for next year’s event and stay up to date on all things fishing by becoming a FREE member with Recfishwest.

You’ll get early notifications so you don’t miss an event again. Sign up here.

Fishing tuition, releasing fish and all things freshwater fishing!

As we move into spring, Recfishwest is celebrating all things freshwater fishing with the launch of the annual Troutfest event kicking off at 10am on September 1, just in time for Fathers’ Day!

The licence free weekend announced by Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) presents the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together by helping DPIRD and Recfishwest release thousands of fish into Drakesbrook Weir as part of an annual community stocking event.

As well as the fish release, Troutfest also includes freshwater fishing tuition for all ages, an education display by DPIRD, fly casting, freshwater tackle & rigging information and demonstrations and general fishing time for everyone to have a go at freshwater fishing for FREE.

Getaway Outdoors will also be taking part in the event offering free Hobie kayak and Stand Up Paddleboard demonstrations.

This year’s Troutfest is the second freshwater community stocking event, and due to its raging success from last year, this event plans to be bigger and better with something for everyone.

The location is suitable for people of all ages, abilities and knowledge so if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at freshwater fishing, fly casting or simply wanted to see a Rainbow or Brown Trout in the flesh, then now is your opportunity!

For many, this fishery was clouded in mystery, but after last year’s event Troutfest participants realised it is about getting into the bush, having a cast and enjoying some of the best parts of WA.

Each year, thousands of trout are released by DPIRD into many dams and rivers throughout WA’s South West. The trout are all bred in captivity at DPIRD’s Pemberton Freshwater Research Centre and either released as fry, yearlings or ex brood stock (bigger fish that have finished being used for breeding), and range from a couple of centimetres in size to a kilo plus sized fish. View trout stocking numbers for 2018 here.

The development of this fishery and community stocking event has all been made possible with support from the Recfishwest Freshwater Fisheries Reference Group, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, The Western Australian Trout and Freshwater Angling Association (WATFAA) and the Pemberton Hatchery.

It’s just one of many Recfishwest lead initiatives working towards improving habitat and fish stocks which build better environments that contribute to making fishing better in WA.

Registration is FREE but essential. Register here.

View the activities map here.

Watch last year’s video here.