South Australia has had a historically marginal trout fishery, with diehard fishos chasing mostly brown trout on a small selection of stocked streams.
Cool-water-loving rainbow trout have existed tenuously in some SA waters, and more recently impoundments such as Myponga Reservoir have been opened up, with trout stocking under way or planned.
Climate change is making the state’s climate even hotter and drier, and it remains to be seen if even the best South Australian streams will keep producing trout.
The future probably lies in the SA’s reservoirs.
Here’s a list of the (historically) best SA trout streams.
This river, 160km north of Adelaide, has been stocked with trout in the section from Spalding to Koolunga.
The river is quite saline, which prevents irrigation use and helps guarantee good water levels, however siltation has slowed the flow and the river is mostly deep pools with reed-lined banks.
The reeds limit bankside access, but good trout have been caught.
Spawning is believed to be minor or nil.
This river flows into the lower Murray lakes 45km south of Adelaide.
Stocking has been done in the middle section from Burma Road to Kondoparinga Homestead.
Irrigation and low rainfall makes this stream cease flowing in summer.
Redfin are present, with carp in the lower reaches.
Trout have been self-maintaining in good years.
The author’s father fished this river in the late 1960s, and noted even then that the trout caught were thin.
This is a tributary of the Finniss River, about 40km south of Adelaide.
Trout have been stocked in a 5km section up from Burma Road.
The river has a slow flow and has produced large trout and redfin.
This tributary of the Finniss River has had a spawning brown trout population, but it tends to run dry.
This stream also flows into the Murray lakes, about 60km south of Adelaide.
It has been stocked over an 8km stretch in years past, from Mosquito Hill Road to the Goolwa-Mt Compass Road.
There is good access and habitat suitable for trout spawning.
Redfin and carp are in the lower reaches.
This river flows out at Victor Harbour, about 60km south of Adelaide.
The reach from the second waterfall down to the gauging weir has been stocked with trout in years past.
Access is limited because of terrain, but the fishing has been good in historic terms, with insect hatches reported.
This river is 100km north of Adelaide, with the section from Undalya to Balaklava stocked in years past.
Conditions are similar to the Broughton River, with thick bankside reeds.
The river has a spring feed but irrigation uses much of the river’s water.
The trout fishing areas are in the city’s north-east metro area.
The river is now used to carry water pumped from the Murray River to a Hope Valley plant, and storage weirs have decreased the trout-fishing areas.
The lower Torrens in the city has many large carp. Stories of occasional large trout being caught in the city have never been backed up with photographs.
This Torrens tributary has a permanent flow, entering the Torrens at Castambul.
There have been self-sustaining trout populations here in years past.
Redfin and carp are also present.
This river is 70km north of Adelaide.
It has been stocked from the Kapunda-Eudunda Road down to the bridge on the Kapunda-Adelaide road.
The pools are connected by channels through thick reedbeds.
It has been a productive fishery in years past, with alkaline water and springs providing a good food supply.
This river is south of Adelaide, entering the sea at Port Noarlunga.
Above Mt Bold Reservoir it runs through farmland, with good fishing for those who can get access.
The river below Mt Bold to Clarendon Weir has produced big trout.
Below Clarendon the “Onk” runs through a gorge, with deep pools.
The lower tidal river has black bream, and is possibly a spot where one might catch a sea-run trout, although it has never been reported.
This is a tributary of the Onkaparinga River above Mt Bold Reservoir.
It has been stocked, and also contains a spawning brown trout population.
Hay Flat Creek
This stream is 100km south of Adelaide is a tributary of Yankalilla River.
It has been stocked in the past but has been a minor fishery.
This river is 80km south of Adelaide, flowing to sea at Victor Harbour.
A small section in the middle reaches has been stocked with trout in years past.
Carp and redfin are the main residents, with bream in the tidal reaches.
Little Para River and North Para River
These were once good trout streams but stocking ceased after the catchments were damaged. Carp are now the main catch.
This is a tributary of the Onkaparinga River. A spawning population of trout has been present in years past.
Inland rivers on Kangaroo Island were stocked in 1994.
Interestingly, Middle River had spawning rainbow trout.
Wilson River was stocked but few trout were reported afterwards.
Given climate change and the devastating fires of 2019, trout may no longer exist on the island.
Other mainland South Australian streams are known to contain trout that have survived from earlier stocking attempts. Most of these rivers now contain redfin and/or carp.
Government surveys around 2013 showed there were trout in Deep Creek, Sturt Creek and Callewonga Creek.
Myponga Reservoir could become a good trout fishery, and there are hopes Mt Bold Reservoir might be developed along the same lines.