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Monday, October 3, 2011



A visit to the NSW Alpine lakes of Jindabyne and Eucumbene is a must for any Trout loving kayak fishing enthusiast. As an avid fishing visitor to the area over the past couple of years I have initiated some great success trolling the margins with assorted lures, line, leader and rod actions. Gaining some invaluable knowledge from top boating Trout fishermen has helped define the parallel, all signs encouraging the effort from my little polyethylene kayak.

While many of us have tackled these waterways mentioned above using traditional fishing methods I would like to help encourage others to give it a serious go and obtain results when kayak fishing impoundments. Whether you are looking for your bag limit or just great sport, the population of Rainbow, Brown, Brook Trout along with prized Atlantic Salmon more often than not put on a show worthy of any anglers bread and butter skills.

Big water lakes like Jindabyne fluctuate water levels year round. Depending on prevailing irrigation and hydroelectricity generation needs, basin depth can fall in excess of 2m a week until it’s topped up by the melting Snow exiting the Winter solstice. The hottest months tend to force the inhabited species into deeper water, venturing out very briefly during first and failing light periods. However, when daylight savings progresses and overcast cold conditions bring overhung cloud cover the Trout become more confident, almost thriving in blizzard like conditions whilst searching for an evolving food source.


Please make no mistake, this is as close to extreme kayak fishing as one can get. Less than a stones throw away lies Australia’s highest peak, Mt Kosciusko. The landscape reflects the areas channelling winter flow, right down into its immediate valleys. Variations include very crisp mornings along with torrential snow falls, whiteout like conditions and a serving of severe wind blown waves. There are certain tricks to overcoming weather obstacles like these; adopting Boy Scout style mentality by prepping for the worst is in your best interest. Prevailing conditions could and should negate any attempt whatsoever to purchase any presence on the water, learning what is required beforehand is a sure fire way to limit exposure in any bleak conditions.

Staying safe within harms reach brings a strange calming effect, especially when the weather is at its worst. A normal pre excursion check list for the area starts with a trip to any nationally bodied weather forecast website. Not only will these show actual weather forecasts for the day in question (Or days if you like) they will also detail the external conditions required to make an auspicious decision. Wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, min / max temperature, humidity and even barometer readings all relate to how you view your understanding of these regions. All of these factors broadcast a plan of attack, particularly defining shelter certain areas can provide.

Warmth is definitely the most essential ingredient, alongside dryness, but don’t discount a degree of lightness too. Survival is of the essence and water temperatures of 5 degrees are best avoided at all costs. Any prolonged immersed exposure can quickly cause Hypothermia, which beyond the ‘many’ minute mark can cause your body to shutdown and increase the chance of serious brain injury. Mother Nature is a bitch with a serious bite.

Angling Approach:

The following information based within this article is just a helpful applicable guideline, not hard and fast rules that one must strongly adhere to. Be it paddling / pedalling to an unreachable bank for shore based baiting purposes or finding shallow coves for polaroiding with fly gear, there are many ways to fish for Trout and all can be applied from a yak to some degree. The beauty of fishing from your kayak is the ability to validate corresponding techniques borrowed from traditional boating backgrounds.

Fishing from a bank with worms and artificial offerings is a popular pastime for most; I still always pack the Powerbait jars just in case my preferred technique shuts down early due to light levels. The ability to paddle / pedal over to a remote, sheltered shore and fish away while you rest is augmented with the maximum amount of gear being able to be ferried across on decks and stored in kayak hulls. You can be as minimalistic as you want or you can take your vessel beyond its hydro boundaries by including pleasurable foods and camping gear, the choice of overcomplicating things is truly yours (Jason ‘Squidder’ Price brings everything but the kitchen sink!).

Rather than delve into further specifics of what can be achieved off your kayak I would like to discuss the science behind one of the most popular methods of taking Trout on your yak, the art of trolling. At first glance it is as simple as throwing out a lure behind you and moving off at a rate of knots, this theory soon wanes away with lack of accomplishment and understanding of its core principals. Freshwater trolling shares ideals from its salty brethren but it’s the molecular makeup of the target species; it’s surrounding worldly attributes and your decisions that will contribute to a triumphant end game the most.

Fighting Trout:

Unlike other sporting fish which can mainly be lost at the critical time next to the kayak, the most common way to lose a Trout is when they take to the air. More often than not when a Trout’s impact of taking a lure is enough to secure initial hook set, once airborne, the fish is easily lost (Due to a number of factors). When a Trout leaps, soft mouths, slack line, head shakes and shallow water presentations can ruin an otherwise great days fishing, especially when it occurs multiple times in a row. A single hook upgrade (Rather than a treble hook) dangling off the end of your lure is a popular Trout’in modification, and may improve your catch rate, but the fighting technique you can learn to employ from the kayaks end can help dictate any fighting direction and give you the upper hand.

Constant line pressure is a must and while in a low seated position can be achieved by positioning the rod horizontally and at right angles to line direction. Immediately upon retrieval of slack line my rod tip enters the water until the very last moments of a fight, a high sticking approach will encourage vertical leaps. Light drag settings will allow the fish to calm and help avoid ripping lips, ultra light gear is recommended and requires finesse techniques to avoid the dreaded pump and wind principals so effective on certain saltwater pelagic species.

Trout when hooked trolling or retrieving plastics close to shore will often search for the nearest snag to gain freedom (Brown Trout in particular), the same can also be said for bait fishing. They are a wandering species and while they may constantly patrol differing beats any information gathered on their daily trips can and will be used against you. Trout treat the lakes underwater features like one gigantic topographical highway, using off ramps to settle in to an area for any prolonged period of time (Insect hatches, weed beds, snags, thermoclines etc) and secure safe haven.

Trolling Techniques:

Trolling lures from your kayak is a deft way of retaining stealth, adopting a tried and true method of fishing for Trout. Initially a problem occurred early in my many jaunts that needed some elucidation, the abrupt loss of kayak momentum when a Trout strikes. The minute time it took to remove the rod from its preferred horizontal mount and turn the kayak to face the fish resulted in differing pressure loads during and a thrown hook. Constant pressure is required, very similar to the prerequisite of spinning from a bank; you are actively working the rod in its holder (Just like your hand) and thus allowing you to complete appropriate load.

I posed this question and many others to some skilled associates of mine, particularly John D from the FangACT network group. Trolling from a heavier, powered boat seemed to allow a more progressive, weighty halt which helped generate a greater hook set. The discussions generated from the comments upon hook up compared to a larger boat were worth acknowledging further. Neither John nor I had given the topic much thought beforehand, he did mention he had experienced dropping more fish trolling into the wind than he had trolling with it but this was put down to his boats negative blown drift towards the fish, causing problematic retrieve rates and the opportunity for slackness in line.

The following suggestions from John work well and are positive alternatives to what is perceived as the Troutin’ norm. The first was departing from the use of braid and exploring the use of monofilament line, fluorocarbon serves no affirmative attributes here. His way of thinking comes around with the mono being more forgiving from a line stretch perspective as well as abrasive resistance on drowned timber. While braid is almost deemed the norm in most kayak angling situations it is almost worth foreboding here, especially when fast and medium taper rods are used.

Being of stubborn fare I still tend to focus on braided lines when trolling, although I have had to compensate all my other fishing attributes to iron out any arising problems. Very slow actioned rods permit the angler to use lighter line when trolling due to the rod helping cushion the load. Keeping your reels drag setting as light as possible helps stay in contact with the Trouts initial hit before moving on to apply pressure with the rod. Trout are a flighty species that tend to spook fairly easily and may drive the hook deeper on their initial run (While the lines at its tightest) rather than trying to firm your hook set during any ensuing battle.

Lure Selection:

Due to the many differing colours and patterns available, plus the anguished joys stemmed down from incorrect / unproductive choice I thoroughly recommend natural baitfish colourations and presentations. There are plenty of choices and topics abound on reasons why one colour works and some don’t, it’s a tricky prerogative which I choose to let the more initiated attempt to explain beyond my own personal experiences. I have had most luck on the Rainbow / Perch/ Brown Trout patterns (Min Min / Micro Min / Rebel jointed), fluorescent bright Pinks (Tasmanian Devil, Custom Crafted Fish Stick), silver and gold (Rapala J7 jointed) and even black (Team Daiwa Pro Vibe). Red or green Celta’s and certain fly’s can be trolled behind existing lures or individually using a technique called ‘Harling’.

Being from more of a Native background where slow and close rules the roost; the ideal length of line out and speed of a trolled Cobra was difficult to master. The more line out the less manoeuvrability in tight and close quarters (30 yards will net you more fish than at 15). A good friend of mine, Craig Coughlan, has had some excellent success with dual depth Tasmanian Devils from his Hobie Revolution. Longer line out and maintaining speed above 3.6kmph with the occasional burst from his Mirage drive has produced great fish on the troll. Jointed lures from the likes of Rapala / Rebel work very well before first light and on overcast days, allow for an elongated drop back from the kayak due to their shallow diving, snaky nature.

It’s worth bearing in mind that not all lures will handle this speed economically. My kayak of choice, a Hobie Quest, lacks a Mirage Drive so I prefer to troll presentations designed to sit slightly below this speedy realm. Paddling a little slower whilst using a GPS to monitor speed I can hold 3kmph for hours on end, even with a few obtuse pulses due to erratic paddling strokes whilst turning (Avoiding snags, following contours of bank etc). Lure choices tend to make or break your day, Rebel Crickhoppers, Flatfish / Kwikfish, 7gm Tasmanian Devils, small Stumpjumpers, 5cm Attack minnows, Halco Scorpions and various minnow profiles (Think Predatek Min Min / Micro Mins, Ecogear Sx48’s) fit the bill perfectly with their strong pulse.

Improving standard hook systems is a priority often ignored, switching to a size 2 Gamakatsu in line eye ‘Single Lure Hook’ pattern on minnows allows the hook to sit true and straight and swings nicely off a number one split ring. All of this effort can be lost in translation if careful consideration to knot alternatives is overlooked. The well known Uni knot tends to dumb down the line action of hardbodied lures, but merely fails to affect Cobra styled lures. Incorporating the use of egg snaps or the Rapala loop knot will simply allow the lure chosen to sway proud of any confine.

Achieving Depth:

When the daily sun is at its peak most Trout move from weed soaked edges and bays to the safety of deeper water, presumably shadowing food sources along the way. Achieving lure depth has spawned multiple ways of presentation from a typical larger boat, most notably downrigging and the use of lead core line. While downrigging and lead core can even be deployed together with great success from a yak it’s often just outside of achievable vision and both can be extremely hazardous with both tackle loss and hull displacement, especially compared to other productive alternatives. Andrew Heath from FangACT shaped some guidance below relating to the acquisition of depth.

Commonly known as trolling sinkers, these winged weights will improve lure depth by a couple of metres (Depending on size deployed). They are extremely easy to use from a kayak and have a keel and twin swivels to avoid line twist. Some loss of rod tip pulse is determined by its tied length away from lure and lure selection itself (Works best with Cobra winged lures). If there was any downfall to this trolling weight it would be the use of terminal knots to both mainline and lure, unless snap to snap connections were made and system leaders pre tied.

Another more impressive, less obstructive approach is to use a line clip with some drop sinkers. These are similar to the line clips available for boats that use a downrigger or side planner board, except that they are designed to not allow the line to slip free like a release clip. Simply feed your line out behind you approximately one third of the way, grab the line clip with said weight attached, clip it onto the line and then proceed to let the remainder of your line out. Depth achieved depends on sinker weight and ‘drop back’ (i.e. distance behind the kayak) but self education is best learnt on the water beyond the basic. This is a great way to change your trolling approach from flatline to beyond, without actually having to alternate any of your rigs (Be it kayak, rod, reel or more).


These regions of Jindabyne and Eucumbene are famous for fishing. Trout tourism is a big, multi million dollar businesses that was recently under threat by our appointed government. In the possession of a current NSW Fishing Licence, it’s your god given right to venture forth and explore the main bodies, only a few sections require the purchase of a NSW National Parks Pass when visiting (And that’s just when venturing by car). Trout are abundant critters that self sustain using rivers and creeks as spawning grounds, then return to the Lakes to condition themselves into XOS sized specimens. While the rivers and streams of NSW have closed seasons, the accompanying impoundments do not.

To many of our uninitiated fraternity, fishing for Trout requires bitterly cold weather accompanied by disappointing results. The simple fact of the matter is this is as far from the truth as one can get. Warmer seasons dictate appropriate angling phases that are only a little harder to foretell than the cooler months. Kayak fishing for Trout in winter becomes a rewarding, predictable game that draws its rules from what Mother Nature and past, proven facts provide. Everything old is new again, what has been working at Jindabyne / Eucumbene for century’s may or may not work at places like Pejar Dam in the future, but subtle variations and umpteen visits will .

Practice makes perfect people, tomorrow is just another day to get it right!