There are so many fishing things I look forward to in autumn, I have to be careful they don’t become a big list I feel have to get through; experiences to tick off before the frosts and sustained cold arrive sometime in May, and the season is gone again for another year. It could all become a bit melancholy if I dwelt on it, but today was a perfect sunny, settled April day, so I decided to go fishing instead!
One type of autumn fishing I’d feel somewhat cheated to miss, is when the trout sip along forested lake shores on beetles, jassids, ants, midge, mayfly, caddis… In fact any food which accumulates along steep, shadowy edges when the wind is light enough to create that oily water which trout apparently love to investigate, and the air is still warm enough to get the bugs busy.
Within an easy drive of my home, the best lakes for this are Cosgrave, Wombat, Bullarto, and Lauriston’s north-western bays. For a long day, add Bellfield to the list. And I reckon West Barwon would be perfect right now, although again, it’s that bit further to drive and access is limited to big walks once you get there.
Having chosen a lake, put on your favourite generalist dry (size 12-14) and make it one you can see. Very few small, buggy dries will be refused – for this type of fishing, there’s usually a merry mix of insects on the water, so it’s unusual for the trout to become too selective.
More important is to find the rises, and this can take some time. Today, I walked a couple of hundred metres along what seemed like ideal shore, for nothing. And then a bay away, I found two trout working almost straight away.
Don’t ask me for a perfect formula for locating edge sippers. When you find them, there will also be accumulations of foam, leaves and of course insects. However, you can locate all that and no trout. Why? A better offer elsewhere perhaps? Or maybe they can sometimes take a bit longer to find the food than we realise. In any case, look really carefully and close-up for what are often the most discreet rises. A glance across to the other shore won’t work.
Anyway, it’s all great fun and the challenge of finding the right shore is part of it. On the best edge-sipper days, it’s sight fishing at its finest, and you could be anywhere.