After our Alpine regions were devastated by bushfires during our most recent Australian summer period, the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) along with the Victorian State Government kicked off a fantastic initiative called the Golden Tag Competition. This competition began at the start of March. I was licking my lips to get out there amongst it!
My first destination in search of a golden tag was one of my favorite places to target rainbow and brown trout, Falls Creek, Victoria.
Friday night was spent getting my gear sorted, new fluorocarbon leaders tied, camping gear packed, lights charged, food, and of course, coffee. The forecast was predicting very cold conditions, but being a native Tassie lad, that wasn't a deterrent.
After working Saturday morning, the time to depart, 1pm, finally arrived. Off I set, cruisin' up the Kiewa Valley with Lifehouse pumping out the speakers of the Colorado, driving up the mountain I could see the outside temperature was quickly plummeting. By the time I reached the village and drove past the town of Falls Creek, the temp was 8 degrees and windy, my first thought was PERFECT! I must be nuts!
I arrived at the boat ramp and instantly noticed the wind was blowing hard and directly into the ramp. It's usually windy up here, that's normal, but from my past experience, it normally blew in the other direction. None the less, I proceeded to get changed out of my work clothes, dressing into some thermals, grabbing some food and swag to go in the boat, and I was set, oh, yeah, don’t forget the bungs!
Seeing as how the wind was blowing into the boat ramp shoreline I decided to troll up and along that shore and keeping roughly 15 to 20m off the shoreline and within a few minutes I was rewarded with a nice little brown to the net. Great start.
That first trout of the day came up on my go-to, Bleeding Pearl Tassie Devil. Away we go, lines back out, speed set at 3.8km/h,and slowly making my way up around and past the dam wall. ZIINNNGGGG!! Rod bent in half, line screaming off the reel, man could this be a golden tag?
After a great fight a beautiful condition brown trout of around 2 pounds was in the net, no golden tag but what a stunning trout. That's what inspires me to chase trout, browns especially, each one is slightly different and stunning in their own individual way.
This time a pink with silver flakes Tassie did the damage helped along with my favourite assist hooks and an orange UV bead hanging out the back. The next few hours was spent trolling more areas, picking up a few more brown trout and plenty more lure changes as the conditions were constantly changing. When the sun starts to go do behind the hills, I like to change up my colours to slightly darker colourings. When the light of the day goes off the water the darker colours stand out more as they cast a better silhouette in the water for any trout in the vicinity to see. It wasn’t long before it was time to find a good camping spot for the night.
The top end of the lake was the go as the hills offered plenty of protection from the wind that was thankfully slowly weakening. First things first, I set up the swag ready to roll into later that night. Now for dinner, fire the Jetboil up, make a coffee, and warm up my delicious soup that my wife had pre-made. After dinner was done and dusted, it was lure to change time again and back out chasing more trout. On the bait caster outfit I went with a black and pink lure, and on the spin rod, a black and gold frog. It wasn’t long before the baitcaster (Diawa Gen Black 1-3kg) had a serious hit and line was peeling off the reel! Now this felt big! Could this be $2000 tagged fish? Nope, just foul hooked in his belly.
I thought it was my winning golden tag, but not to be. None the less, it was a beautifully spotted brown trout of around 1.5 pounds. A quick text home to check in, and a temp check via the BOM, which showed temps in the minus. The water temp was at 13.5 but ambient in the minus, a thick fog was quickly descending. I flicked the Lowrance onto maps and followed the cursor back close to camp. I changed the lures to hard bodies and varied the speed a lot but there were no further hookups.
Back at camp, I pulled the boat into shore and tied it off securely to a few rocks, she ain't going anywhere. Into the swag and straight into the sleeping bag. Nice and toasty, and the wind was still easing.
After a good sleep, I woke at 5.30 am to find an iced up swag. Man it was cold. Coffee consumed, and a couple of new lures on attached. Again, hard bodies so I could slowly make my way round the shoreline and look out for any rising trout. In between getting rid of iced up guides and frozen reel bodies! A few hits came, but no hookups unfortunately. As the sun was rising over the hills, I spotted a few rising trout and grab the Orvis 5 weight flyrod and tied on a fly. I started with a humpy, which i quickly changed after 2 refusals. The problem was that the trout were 'oncing' and not consistently feeding in one area. After quite a few fly changes, the wind picked up which instantly turned off any surface activity.
I decided to head back towards the boat ramp and also back to my base Tassie Devil setups. As the wind was picking up and the Motorguide battery finally went flat, my trusty Mercury 50 EFI 4 Stroke was kicked into gear with troll mode activated making it a breeze to get the speed correct. Next minute, a double hookup. This time a fiesty rainbow came to the net along with a smaller brown. Both were released, and over the next hour, despite trying the fishing didn’t improve greatly.
Time to wind in and change it up a bit. Out went a lead line with 5 colours out, with a uv orange and black lure it was an instant success. The next 30 minutes resulted in a bit of a feeding frenzy on this colour, but still no golden tag. Time to head back to camp, into some fresh clothes, pack up the swag and have another coffee. After that I decided to troll up and along the Bogong High Plains Road side of the dam and was fortunate enough to pick up a couple of stunning browns. By now it was almost 1pm and time to pull the pin, load the boat onto the trailer and head home.
Man what a trip, great fishing, plenty of fish, unfortunately, no tags.