Seeing as we had some reasonable rainfall in the highland areas I checked the river heights of the Leven River last night and saw it has risen to a reasonable wading height so thought a trip to it may be worthwhile. It was a late afternoon spin session as I had several things to do in the morning and with a forecast of a light Nth Easterly wind 7-11 kph wasn't all that bad, even though I'm not a lover of fishing with the breeze from that direction. Before I left home I checked the river height again to find it running at 392 mega litres which was a little on high side but which was a reasonably safe wading height, had it been above the 400 mega litres I would not have gone.
It was 3:10pm when I arrived at the Lee Memorial Park at Gunns Plains where I'll be starting the spin session, it's a nice stretch of river that I haven't fished for at least two trout seasons. It used to fish really well several years ago with the trout in good numbers and of a good size too, then it died off with hardly any trout being caught so I stopped fishing this area. The first thing I noticed was how dark the river was, it was much darker than any of my trips to this river all season, the good thing was I spotted several trout taking grasshoppers off the surface. When I say it was a good thing was because there were trout here, the down side was that they were surface feeding which will make for a tough spin session. I did think of setting my Okuma combo up with a size 6 suicide hook and do a bit of fishing with live hoppers, but I didn't I went with the Mepps gold #1 (3.5gm) Aglia Mouche Noire for starters.
The reason I went for the gold blade was because of how dark the river was and the reason for the 3.5 gram Mouche Noire was the first piece of water I fished was a wide deep one on near the bridge. With the water being so deep & dark it was near impossible to see the gold blade spinner in the water as I retrieved it, worse was the fact I couldn't tell if it was being followed by a trout either. I spent just on ten minutes fishing the deep stretch of water before moving further up where I could hop in and start fishing my way upstream. I could see trout in different areas on the river taking hoppers off the surface which was a little frustrating as I was working the gold Mouche Noire in those areas without a single hit. I changed to a #1 Aglia Furia to see if that may draw their attention, it didn't, I then tried the copper Aglia, still nothing happened, they were right into the hoppers here and that's it.
I even gave a March Brown Bug spinner a go seeing as it was a similar colour to a grass hopper, the result was the same, no follows or hits. Forty minutes later I changed to a brown trout Aglia Fluo lure as I was starting to run out of ideas of what to try on the trout especially when they're feeding on hoppers. I still had the white miller bug, gold, silver Aglia's, the black fury range plus a few others to try before I went through the lot once more. I was sure it wouldn't come to that, I was quite confident it wouldn't be long before I had my first trout in the net. I had a direct cast straight up the shallow side river ahead of me, three turns of the reel handle the fluo spinner was taken, finally it was fish on. This brown wasn't all that big but it was the first hit and take of the spin session and that was good enough for me.
The Nth Easterly wind had picked up and was blowing at around 15kph or more which wasn't going to make it any easier catching trout either. After the release of that little brown the fishing went back to how it previously was, no follows or any signs of a trout until I went for another change of lure, this time it was on with a #00 white miller Bug spinner. I thought seeing as there were a few Caddis moth flying around the white miller may suck a trout in, not only that it's done well on the trout in small dark tannin streams other times. After several casts up and across the river a solid trout took it, no sooner had that fish taken the spinner it broke the surface out popped the spinner. I was a little disappointed in a way but also happy to see a trout have a crack at the white miller. Two minutes later a direct cast straight up the river into a shallow shaded stretch of water a solid brown took the spinner.
This fish was larger than the one I had just hooked and lost, it made quite a few leaps & runs every which way trying toss the spinner as it made it's way into the fast water.. The Okuma Celilo Finesse ULS rod was really bent over as the trout tried everything to shake free of the white miller, this trout wasn't getting away like the last fish. I had the drag set pretty light on the Helios SX20 spinning reel to let the fish run the Super 100 Platypus 4lb line from it, I wasn't going to lose this trout. After a minute or two I had it back into the shallows, that's when I saw it was only being held by one hook in a soft part of it's mouth. I didn't attempt to get the camera out to film it like I normally do when I have a fish in close, this time I eased it straight into the net. No sooner it was in the net out popped the lure, had I messed around getting the camera out I'm sure I would have lost that trout. Not that it was a big fish, but it was the best one so far and I wasn't taking any chances like I've done in the past and lost them. A couple of photos then weighing it while it was still in the net it went 485 grams after deducting the weight of the net (410gms) from the total weight.
On checking the treble hooks of the spinner I found that one of them was missing, it had broken off once that trout was in the net. It was on with a new white miller & I went on fishing my way upstream where I lured a trout from a small flat water on the opposite side of the river, all it did was follow the spinner with no a signs of aggression. I continued on fishing the medium/fast flowing water until 4:40pm before heading back to the car then head to my favourite stretch of water 2-3 kms further upstream. Once there (5:10pm) I crossed the river & keeping close to the LHS made my way up a long wide medium deep stretch of river to the fast waters. The water here being much deeper wasn't easy, it was nearly waist deep & I couldn't see the river bottom, it was very slow going to get to the area I wanted to fish. After reaching the fast water I still had to take it easy while making my way to the centre of the river where I knew it was knee deep and a lot safer for wading. This is where knowing every area in river comes in handy, not being able to see the river bottom and in waist deep water I still knew where it was safe enough to make my way to were it was knee deep & safe. If I didn't know this river there's no way I would attempt to make my way to the centre of it.
Even being in dark tannin knee deep water the going wasn't easy as I had to feel my way as I slowly fished on upstream working the right hand side of the river. The reason for fishing the right hand side of the river is because it's the side of the river where the trout seem to hold out, the left hand side on this stretch of water rarely gives up a fish. I continued fishing here with the white miller for around fifteen minutes without having a hit, time for a change of lure, it was on with a #0 gold Black Fury. With the water being much faster & a little deeper here you would be surprised how much deeper the spinner will run with it being one gram heavier. The first cast into a narrow flat water one that I had already cast the white miller into at least three times before changing to the black fury I had an instant hook up. The change to the gold Black Fury has already paid off, only one problem came of it, the trout tossed the spinner within five seconds of taking it. From here on it was slow going without a sign of a trout until I hooked a small brown (at 5:50pm) in another of the shallow flat waters close to the right hand river bank.
This little trout made it all the way in and I did get some footage of it, as I was about to get hold of it and let it go it gave one more head shake and tossed the spinner. After that I lost three small trout in a row and all in quick time too before I caught my forth trout of the afternoon dead on 6:00pm. I was thinking about calling it a day seeing as the river wasn't fishing all that well then decided I may as well finish it off by fishing the side water to the left of me, a side water that's always given up a few trout on my previous trips here. Staying with the #1 gold black fury I slowly fished my way upstream, I had a follow from a medium size brown that looked like it was about to take it when the lure bottom bounced and picked up some green algae.
That was the end of that fish, it turned and moved off not to be seen again. With the water being much shallower here the water wasn't as dark as the main stream and I could see the rocky bottom here. The #1 gold black fury was a little too heavy to use here so I changed over to a small gold Aglia spinner, one that's been well used ( & very second hand ) and caught a lot of trout in it's day. It did quite well in getting several trout to attack it with three of them being hooked and lost. I reached the top end of the side water without landing a trout which was a first for me here, as the saying goes “ there's a first time for everything isn't there”. My afternoon spin session was finished, I didn't bother heading back into the main stream to fish the rest of the fast water knowing it was just a waste of time. I will return here a few times over the following three months that's left of the trout season because I'm sure it will fire up on one or two of those trips. Now February is here the trout fishing will improve as will my catch rate from here on hopefully..
** Equipment used: Okuma Celilo Finesse Spin Rods - 6'6'' ULS 1-3kg trout rod,
Okuma Helios SX Spin Reels - HSX-20 spinning reel
Mepps inline spinners, Playtpus Super 100 mono 4 lb line & Platypus Stealth FC leader 6 lb
Adrian Webb (meppstas)
First trout of the afternoon
Glassy water Leven River
The white miller Bug that worked on a couple of trout
Where a back water flows into the Leven River
Wild brown trout Leven River