There's lots of reasons that I'll remember winter 2008.  It was just one of those seasons for landbased polaroiding at Lake Bullen Merri.

It wasn't that the fish were bigger than usual, but it was simply that there was plenty of fish cruising the edges through July and August which made polaroiding a pretty exciting option, particularly in the crystal clear water the winter months provide.

I hadn't seen the numbers of fish for years like I'd seen this season and I spent many winter days chasing fish along the edges and with the plenty of potential to film an episode of Adventure Bound I gave Andrew Clark and Neil Tedesco (late) a call and they wasted no time heading down.  The boys were in for a treat as we had the whole lake to ourselves in the inclement weather and while conditions weren’t perfect they were good enough to film and catch fish.

They were easy to polaroid as their beautiful pink and red spawning stripes were visible from several metres away as they cruised in less than 2 feet of crystal clear water along the rocky drop offs.  Some of the male fish were darker green on the back in their full spawning colours. Day one went perfectly to plan, we had been fishing for all of 10 minutes when a 2kg fish cruised straight past Neil’s fly and ate  mine, but it wasn’t always that easy!  Sometimes you would have to chase them for more than 100m continually presenting flies in front of them until they showed some interest or took the offering.

The first fish of the day was a cracker!

The first fish of the day was a cracker!

The faster moving fish were the hardest to catch and would usually ignore the fly while the some of the slower cruising fish or the fish cruising in pairs or small groups would usually take the fly.  The best times to target them were during the daylight hours from about 9am-3pm, so they were pretty much an all day option.  Most of the fish were inquisitive and would look at most things presented to them, but often they proved fickle and would not aggressively take every offering.  This was offset by the numbers of fish on the edges, so even if they proved a little  fickle you could still manage plentyn of takes each session.

A perfectly hooked rainbow trout caught on a suspended glo bug fly

A perfectly hooked rainbow trout caught on a suspended glo bug fly

The best technique was to present a glo-bug fly fished about a foot and a half underneath an indicator.  I have fished this technique in many other regional lakes during the spawning months with great success and for rainbow trout it is deadly as they find it hard to resist ignoring the offering.  Although we missed probably half of the takes due to lost concentration or over excitement, we managed to land half a dozen good rainbows up to nearly 3kg in weight which is awesome salmonid sight fishing for a public water anywhere in Australia.

Waiting for a cruising rainbow trout

Waiting for a cruising rainbow trout

Neil caught the fish of the trip which around 3kg which was one of the most awesomely grotesque looking fish I have seen for ages.  It was a big buck male with hardly any spots on it and with its green back and bright pink stripe it looked pretty cool!

Neil's cracking rainbow

Neil's cracking rainbow

After a great midday session the cloud and rain moved in and we were unable to polaroid any longer and we simply had to rely on watching our indicator putty dip to indicate a bite.  While this certainly was a little boring compared to what we had seen earlier it payed off in the end as we managed to catch another fish each just before it got dark.  We earnt the late afternoon fish though as you can see by how wet we got!

Late afternoon rainbows

Late evening indicator rainbow trout

Plenty has been written about using globugs in rivers in the past and they can be dynamite during the spawning season period and not just on rainbows.  Brown trout respond reasonably well to them also.  When globugs are fished in lakes they are equally as effective and I’d almost go as far as saying that for me they would be the most preferred technique for catching cruising wintertime rainbows and now also to some extent big browns as well.  Globug flies are usually fished on traditional fly gear, but can also be just as effectively fished on light spin gear.  Flies can be easily presented on light threadline tackle with reels spooled with 3-4lb braid and a 6-8lb flourocarbon leader.

Time of year

Spawning season is usually the best time to find good numbers of fish on the rocky shores as they move trying to attempt to find breeding areas.  Although their attempt to breed is futile they are commonly found along rocky areas of the North Shore, Potters Point and Whurrung Point.  Chinook salmon are usually found cruising in good numbers from late March to early June, brown trout from April to June and rainbow trout from June to August.  Of course you can also expect a fair degree if individual variation.

Polaroiding the north shore of Lake Bullen Merri in the winter months

Polaroiding the north shore of Lake Bullen Merri in the winter months

I prefer fishing the glo bugs stationary or as still as possible.  When ever the wind is strong and I find it difficult to fish the glo bug stationary under an indicator I usually get less takes and interest from cruising fish.  Strong winds and chop make this technique difficult.  At these times I’ve had success using a floating glo-bug with a split shot or small sinker about a foot up the leader to anchor the glo bug to the bottom.


There are a range of indicators you can use to present the fly.  I prefer to use Biostrike indicator putty which is mouldable and also provides additional casting weight.  To balance all you need to do is simply add or remove the putty to ensure your fly is suspended in the strike zone.  The putty provides nearly no resistance and the fish usually doesn’t even realise it has made a mistakes until you lift the rod.  By itself it is highly visual and when you lose the sun it will indicate a take and you can continue to fish confidently even on those days when you know the fish are cruising but can’t quite see them.

Indicator putty and a selection of globugs and stick caddis flies

Indicator putty and a selection of globugs and stick caddis flies

Staying in touch

Whether you are presenting flies on a fly or threadline outfit you need to maintain contact with your main line and the use of floatant at regular intervals is important.  If a belly forms in your leader by the time you strike you will usually miss the take.  Sometimes it is frustrating reapplying it every 15-20 minutes, but it is essential for efficiency of conversion.


The globug hook selection is important. I prefer the heavier gauge hooks which penetrate the jawbone well.  Once a hook is in the fishes mouth then it shouldn’t bend or fail due to opening up or snapping.  I prefer the larger globugs in hook sizes 8-12, particularly for the larger lakes and bigger fish, however I have used size 12-14 with good success.  You can even fish one of each by adding the smaller fly by tying it onto a length of mono from the first fly.  After the hook up when the hook is set back the drag right of and very rarely will you lose the fish as a result of the hooks coming out.  Once those small hooks pierce the bone in the jaw they are usually even hard to pull out without pliers!

Colours & Size

Colour also plays and important role and at times fish will favour a pale pinky colour than the more traditional bright orange/red combination so it is a good idea to have a range of colour variations and sizes in your tackle box.  I haven’t experimented much over the last few years with the oversized ‘pompoms’ often used in New Zealand, but I have seen them work there and I will definitely be trying these next winter!

Two fly rig

In its own right the globug acts as an excellent attractor fly which extends its application further than the cooler spawning months of the wintertime.  By adding a second small natural fly like a stick caddis, amphipod (scud) or bloodworm you can create an extremely effective backup and this will usually pull results when the fish are fickle.  The only problems with the two fly rig is the possibility of snagging the second hook when fighting a fish or sometimes the fish takes the glo-bug only to hit the trailing line of the second fly and spits it out.  You just need to weigh up the options in any given situation.

A nice hen rainbow couldn't resist the globug


Indicator globugging can be a painful technique when trying to find and fool fish the most important thing is to persist and when that first big rainbow comes you’ll wonder why you persisted with other techniques. You can check out some of the live glo-bugging action from last season on the latest Adventure Bound DVD Season 5 (Part 2).  Log onto for more details and check out some of the live video feeds on Youtube below:

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