Many keen trout anglers would relies just how much trout love grasshoppers. They are a good easy source of energy that trout just love to feed on during the warmer months. From January right until the closing weekend of the season trout will be feeding themselves on the abundant food source that is grasshoppers.
If your walking beside a stream and there are grass hoppers around it's a fair bet that the trout near by already are aware of this. There are two main ways to fish for trout using hoppers. The first being using fly fishing gear fly and the second using a light spin rod. Grass hopper season is a great time for those new to fly fishing as the trout can be super aggressive and will be on the lookout for these juicy morsels floating down the river. The second option is by using a spinning rod, which due to its simplicity means that little or no experience is required to have a good day out on a local stream. So long as you have the right gear for the job you'll be in with a good chance of landing a fish or two.
Fly fishing is seen by many as too hard or just too complicated. I'm not a great fly fisher by any means. But given some knowledge of where to fish when targeting these hopper feeders it can be dead easy and very fun!!! I have caught close to 20 fish in a 2 hour session just 30minutes from the middle of Launceston so you don't have to go far to enjoy this type of fish. Its something you can do after work or if you have a few free hours.
Any fly rod suited to fishing small streams will do the job when casting hoppers to agro river tout, a 4 or 5weight will do the job well indeed. A floating line to match with a reasonably light leader given the fish that will be targeted will likely be less than one pound. Casting can be difficult in heavily overgrown areas. Look for narrow sections where there are over hanging banks as this is where the fish are most likely to be located. Fish will hold right in close and wait for the grasshoppers to either fall in or hop in the wrong direction. One thing about grasshoppers is when they land on the surface of the water they sp[lash and make quite a bit of noise. This noise instantly draws attention of any trout in close proximity. For this reason being a good caster is not a major issue. In fact slapping the fly down is preferred as apposed to landing it softly on the surface. Once the fly has landed often a bow wave will make its way directly towards your fly as a hungry trout cruises in to inspect your offering. Usually a boil on the surface will follow then you should lift the rod to set the hook. Most of the time the trout will just come up and nail the fly but on occasions they may go right up and nose it either before refusing it or sucking it in gently. Try not to presume the fish is going to grab your fly, make sure the trout strikes before you do!! This form of fishing can be very exciting as it can be seen just a few metres in front of you.
You can fish the larger rivers using this technique however I find the smaller rivers are far more likely to produce. Places such as the St Patrick's River or the Candem can be very good locations during the hopper seasons. Beware of snakes in such places as the last thing you want is your day ruined by a trip to hospital!!! Narrow stretches are my preferred areas as the trout will hear and see the fly no matter where they are located in the river. Whether they are sitting hard on the bank or in midstream they will either see or hear the fly land and they will soon be investigating the source of the commotion. Try to match the size of the fly to the size of the fish you are targeting. For larger rivers use larger patterns than you would for the smaller streams. A small fish will hit a big hopper as they really do love them, but you are more likely to have missed strikes using larger flies on small fish. The grasshoppers I find trout like the best are little wingless brown ones with orange/red legs. So any fly that can effectively imitate such a grasshopper is sure to have some success.
Depending on the water you are fishing a rod of 6 feet or under is probably the best bet. A line rating of 2-3kg is probably best as the fish aren't likely to be big. Four or six pound mono is fine, any heavier and you'll likely loose casting distance. I have found the best floats to be the hard see through type however these can be hard to come by. The soft see through floats will do the job if you can't get hold of the hard ones. I rig the float up so that it runs up and down the main line with a small swivel or stopper and then a leader of maybe 30cm, which has a small hook of size 10 or smaller attached.
The bottoms of rapids are a great place to concentrate your efforts. Cast up stream and wind the line in as you float drifts back down. Any slight movement of the float or tightening of the line you should wind to try to set the hook. You can strike however if you miss the fish it is far more likely to be spooked and not come back for a second go. Work the water methodically casting to each location two or three times. Getting the correct drift can be important and by making multiple casts to an area you are more likely to get the required drift. Often the fish will here the float land and go over to investigate, then the notice the grasshopper hanging in mid water and nine times out of ten they will grab it. I try to catch mainly the brown fat hoppers without the wings, as these seem to be the trout's favorite. Catching them at the location you are fishing at or nearby will help to maximize the likely hood of a successful outing. Hook the grasshopper under the chest plate, as this is the best way to ensure they stay on the hook till a hungry trout takes a liking to the offering. Don't worry if the hook is fairly visible, as the fish generally don't mind when there is a fat juicy grasshopper on it!!!
Both of these techniques can be very effective and shouldn't be too hard to land a fish or two. Anybody whether they have been fishing their whole life or just starting out can use these techniques with a good chance for success. Fly-fishing with hoppers can be a good learning experience for those new to fly-fishing. Casting and presentation doesn't have to be perfect while you will get a better understanding of where fish are likely to be located in a river. Have fun, catch lots and only keep what you need. River fish tend to remain in similar areas for much of their life. Removing them will only reduce your chance of a successful fishing trip in the future. If you follow these basic rules come mid January you should be in with a VERY good chance to land more than a couple of fish.