How to catch trout in lakes…try something different

How to catch trout in lakes…try something different

Every angler I know likes to catch trout…there seems to be something magical about landing a trout in any type of water…I think that fly fishermen have imparted some “mystique” to this prime fresh water game fish….

…but in my book…they’re just another fish!



…because, if you know what you’re doing they’re not that hard to catch!


I have chased trout in the upper Yarra river, Goulburn river, upper Maribyrnong river and countless clear running streams and creeks.


At one point I focused on lure fishing and bait free-lining where I spent whole days hiking along these water ways sight casting for wild bred trout….in other words I walked for days chucking plastic and bait at any fish I could see!

This was good exercise (and therapy) but most days I prefer to sit down and let the fish come to me.


I like fishing the rivers but for about 10 years I’ve really enjoyed fishing lakes, dams and reservoirs

especially the ones that have been stocked with trout.


The Victorian Government organises stocking of  lakes throughout Victoria each year.

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources takes care of this….(Yep, that’s their name. I tried to keep this blog short but that name just shot me over the word limit!!!)

The trout are bred in hatcheries and released when they get to the right size…

they’re put in these lakes to be caught by you and you pay for this through your fishing license fees.


The thing is…most newly stocked trout are dumb  so they  get caught quickly… but if you miss the strike they wise up and are harder to catch.

Under  heavy fishing pressure they become nervous around  typical baits –  worms in particular and soft plastic lures…

so when every person with a fishing rod is bombing them with the same stuff it’s time to go with something different if you’re going to get a bite!


I usually start with a couple of options that have worked in the past…maggots, shop brought dough bait and  flavoured corn…

Yes, flavoured corn!

Flavored corn has 2 benefits….it’s easy to see and the added flavouring intensifies the smell in the water and attracts the fish.


The flavour I use is stuff like aniseed and vanilla essence or minced garlic bought from the super market. I also like  factory made flavors I’ve bought online from oversees fishing tackle suppliers…they have all worked at one time or another.

For live bait… maggots really work because they wiggle a lot and are easy to see…and not as many people use them. 


And then….. there’s “dough baits”.


US anglers have been using these for years because they are so successful…there’s a whole bunch of anglers who seem to do nothing else but chase stocked trout using dough baits.

Aussie anglers use them too and anyone fishing Eildon pondage and other big waters will see a lot of this stuff used to catch trout.

Dough baits made from coloured dough specifically to catch trout. They really work when you use them at the right time…and just like berley they have strong attracting power.

Some of these products slowly melt so the scent flows off with water movement – this can work well if you use a float over a deep drop-off where the scent will bring them up to the hook.


Any bait that smells and looks like the stuff the trout were fed when they were in the hatchery works well. The factory made dough bait is made this way

…and, even if the water has weed and debris on the bottom you can fish floating bait  will rise  above the weed and can be seen by cruising fish.

 Some of it is UV enhanced and has sparkles added so it really stands out and the trout  can see it.


Popular brands of dough bait are Berkley Powerbait, Pautzke Fire Bait, Zeke’s  and Magic, and  these baits come in mind boggling range of colours and flavours….and it can be a bit confusing which ones to use.

A ship load of research has done to test if fish see colours….and they do…

I’m just not sure why a rainbow coloured dough might be better than say – green…in clear water….

…but I do know that if the water is slightly muddy then light colours, especially  yellow, seem to provide a clearer silhouette than others….but it takes a bit of experimentation to work out what works best!


We have lots of stocked lakes and dams around and many of them are a lot closer than where you’d have to go to get wild trout. I see this as a real bonus for us anglers.

It’s easy to get hold of dough baits. Many tackle stores keep a stock of them and they’re available online.

They last a whole season and add another option for you to catch a fish.


You can use floating baits on the bottom or sinking baits under a float…and there’s plenty of trout to take them.

Have a look at the this site to find a stocked water near you. School holiday trout stocking



You’ve got your bait…what now?


Find the fish!


Trout are sensitive to water temperature, they are most comfortable at about 12cso when its warm they’re going to be looking for comfort in the deeper water and they’ll tend to swim or hold in this water most of the day.

Since they’re hatchery bred, they don’t know much about the “real world”. They were fed and protected in the fishery so they don’t know any different until they taste a hook.

They’ll cruise the water looking for food…often coming into shallow water when they’re hungry. If it gets too hot or the water’s real clear they’ll go back to the deeper water until hunger forces them to move out or it gets darker or overcast.

This means you can fish the shallow water in the cooler months, especially if it’s got a bit of colour…this makes them feel a bit safer.  They’ll feed in the shallows at night and early morning so this is always a good time.

For the rest of the day, anything that offers cover might hold fish.


The standard rig is a light weight rod and reel to take 2 to 4 kg line and the terminal tackle ( hook and sinker) is set up with a size 10  to 6 bait holder hook and small running sinker.

You can also use the same setup with a float and split shot sinker and this is always a pretty exciting way to fish.


Many US anglers are big on leaving their rods alone and waiting for the fish to strike and hook themselves. They often put bells or more often a “bobber”, so they know the fish are biting.  A bobber is usually just a bubble float connected to their line after they cast out. They pull line from the second and third guides on their rod and connect the bobber to it so it dangles down. When the bobber goes up and down they know they have a fish pulling on the line.

This works and if you have to wait a while for a fish to bite…then it’s an OK method…

…but I prefer to use the touch fishing method to keep in touch with the bait and what the fish are doing. Check out my blog to  learn how this is done.


So…do dough baits work on trout in Australia….the answer is “YES”.

But like most fishing styles “you gotta use it to get good at it”.

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