Hike For The Strike - Your Guide To Remote Fishing

Hike For The Strike - Your Guide To Remote Fishing

The high country of Victoria and Southern NSW is littered with creeks and streams filled with trout. The effort to hike into these areas is often rewarded with some world class trout fishing while immersed in the great Aussie bush.

In this overcrowded, fast-paced, technology-driven world we now live in, more and more people are searching for an escape and an outdoors experience as far away as possible from the hustle and bustle of city life and the mundane day to day grind of work.  Many Aussies are now finding they can combine several of their favourite outdoor pursuits into one exhilarating and soul-cleansing experience.  The outdoor adventure is immensely enhanced when you can hike into a remote location, immerse yourself in the great Australian bush, and then land a few nice fish. 

For many, this is about as rewarding as you can get when it comes to the fishing, hiking, and the outdoors experience. Whether you’re a hardcore angler, a weekend warrior, an avid bushman or bush-woman, or someone who just enjoys the great outdoors, then hiking into a remote location in search of fish may just be the void to fill that gap in your recreational pursuits.

Plan Ahead

The key to success in any hiking trip when searching for fish is in the planning.  This should be at the forefront of your mind when attempting to find that secret, secluded location.  The days and weeks before a trip should be spent reviewing Google Maps and also any available information on the area you are looking to fish.  First and foremost is gaining access to the area.  There are some restrictions in National and State Parks and these vary from location to location.  Review any access issues, opening and closing times if applicable, and areas within the park that may be protected or restricted to visitors. 

Work out the easiest track to follow in and ensure that you review the gradient of the path you intend to follow.  Hills, gullies, cliff faces, and water courses can add significant time to your hike. As will thick scrub, uneven ground, and areas that are soft and boggy underfoot.  Check out one of the many National Parks websites to understand these restrictions, which will save disappointment when you arrive and find you can’t even get to the water.

There may also be a requirement to walk through private property.  This is becoming a bigger and bigger issue, with many anglers completely ignoring signage and disregarding the rights of the property owners.  The property owners have paid huge sums of money to purchase or lease land on a river or lake, and anglers do not have the right to just walk-through paddocks and fenced off areas.  In some states, anglers can walk along a river, but they must stay below the high-water mark.  Once you leave the river course and go above the high water mark - you are trespassing!  Seek permission from the landowners, and if in doubt, do not enter the area.  Simply find where there is public access via a reserve or easement.

There are a number of reasons why detailed, thorough planning is vital not only to your success but also to your safety. There are numerous variables that will contribute to planning your day and they are working out the rough distance you will need to hike to get to the area you want to fish and then how much time you want to dedicate to fishing.  This will vary significantly from location to location.  Testament to this statement is that when I hike into one of the many backwater rivers or streams of the NSW Snowy Mountains chasing trout, I will normally set off well before first light. 


Trout are a highly sought after sport fish worldwide and Australia has some of the best trout fishing available in hard-to-reach rivers and streams.

Often leaving the car around 4am, I know that I will be on the water just on first light, which is the prime time for those big buck brown trout that patrol the shallow margins under the cloak of darkness. In contrast, when hiking into rocky headlands or secluded beaches on the NSW south coast, I will time my departure to allow me sufficient time to hike in and be on the rocks or beach just prior to the tidal cycle I want to fish.

For decades I have experienced some of my best beach fishing around a rising tide, so I plan my session accordingly. Most small beaches are only a few kilometres through scrubland from where I park my vehicle, so I have found that leaving about 3 hours before the high tide will have me fishing the peak tidal phase of a building sea. Rocky headlands are a different scenario and each area fish's best under different tides. As a general rule, drummer, bream, salmon, tailor, and trevally all bite the best around a high tide so if visiting a new area, I will plan my trip around the top of the tide.

Beach Hike
Rocky Headland


The final piece of the planning puzzle is to check the weather forecast before embarking on your trip. Heavy rain or snow in the mountains or on a freshwater river can quickly turn dangerous and pose a physical threat. It can also hinder and even block your route out of the location, leaving you stranded until the water subsides or land dries sufficiently that you can cross it without getting bogged. Along the coast, strong winds and big seas will not only make the fishing dangerous, but in many cases means that any attempt to cast a line is fruitless.

As I have outlined above, there are so many factors to consider when heading into the great outdoors for a hiking and fishing adventure. Thorough planning will enhance the experience, ensure all contingencies have been considered, and most importantly ensure you return home safely. As the legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi said, "fail to plan and you plan to fail".


Risk Reward
Hiking Pack

There are several essential items required for any remote outdoor hiking trip. When covering any distance, it goes without saying that high-quality hiking boots are vital for comfort, safety, and to minimise injury. I have been wearing Merrell boots for over two decades now and these are far and away the best boots available on the market. They are comfortable, durable, and the high cut Moab 2 GTX provides additional ankle, arch, and heel support. I have worn one pair of my Merrell's for over 100 days hiking and fishing the oceanic rocky platforms of New Zealand's north island and they are still going strong. They have stood up to, and excelled in, what I consider the harshest terrain available when hiking. Waders are an option but be mindful that long hikes in waders can cause rubbing and the boots are often not designed for long walks.

A high-quality comfortable backpack is equally important to that of a good pair of hiking boots. For day trips, I have found a 35 to 50 litre pack to be sufficient to carry all my tackle, safety equipment, camera gear, food and water. For the last four years, I have been using the Mountain Designs Trekker 45 litre hiking pack which has been excellent. It meets all my needs in that it is comfortable to carry for long periods, rides tight and snug on my back, has multiple, easy to access compartments, and is extremely durable when dragged through blackberry bushes and the like.


Unfortunately the further you go off the beaten track, the more likely you are to run into snakes and other critters.

From a safety perspective, a snake bite kit, a basic first aid kit, and a Personal Location Beacon (PLB) are crucial to any remote hiking trip. These are non-negotiables that must be taken on every outing as most areas either have very limited connectivity or no service at all. On these trips, you cannot reply on your mobile phone, which is why a PLB is essential. It is also important to tell someone where you intend to park your vehicle, where you intend to hike and what time you expect to return. These simple steps will make it much easier for loved ones and authorities to find you in the case of an accident. The other two pieces of equipment I always carry in my pack are a small set or strong wire cutters and a reliable headlamp.

The wire cutters are for risk mitigation in case you get a hook in your finger, hand, or leg. The cutters can be used to cut the hook and allow you to push the hook all the way through and out. If the hook is in deep or close to a tendon or ligament, then the proven approach is to cut the hook off the lure, bandage over and around where the hook is in your skin, and then head to the nearest hospital to have the injury assessed by a professional. I always carry a headlamp, even when fishing during the day. The simple reason is that if something happens and I'm either walking out in the dark or have an accident and I'm incapacitated, then I at least have light to help me see my way around. Finally, ensure your headlamp is fully charged and has new batteries.

Travel Light

We are all guilty of carrying too many lures and fishing gear with us on trips. In a boat, this is not an issue as there is always plenty of room. However, when hiking, every kilogram in your pack counts and it is amazing how reducing fishing tackle to the essentials can reduce total pack weight for the day. Always keep in mind that you will have your pack on for most of the day, so any reduction in weight will save your back, shoulders, and even your lungs when pushing up that final steep hill for home. If hitting the mountains for trout, then a small tackle box of lures and a spool of leader line is sufficient for the day's fishing. If walking the inland rivers for native fish, then a mix of hard-bodied lures, surface lures, and a handful of spinnerbaits will cover a day targeting Murray cod.

Along the coast, regardless of whether you plan a beach or rock session, a small tackle box of terminal tackle will comfortably cover a bait fishing session in the salt. Carry a mix of sinker sizes to ensure you can work all layers of the water column and if necessary, hold bottom in strong currents. A few ganged hook rigs, and a variety of hook sizes to match the target species and baits you are using. Also throw in a few floats, some leader line, and several pre-rigged soft plastic minnows and a couple of metal lures in case there are pelagic species such as salmon, tailor, or kingfish available.



When you push your way through a wall of thick tea trees after several hours hiking in dense bush land and to be greeted by the sight of a pristine freshwater creek makes all the effort and hardship worthwhile.

Hiking into remote locations, whether inland or on the coast, can deliver some hidden gems that receive little fishing pressure and minimal visits from humans. By using your fishing nous, having a basic understanding of the aquatic environment, and then adding a sense of adventure, will assist you in finding that fishing nirvana. The rewards for earning your fish by thorough planning, hiking in, and then to hook and land a few fish are as good as it gets in fishing terms. As they say, "do the miles, get the smiles!"

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