The high water levels are now slowly receding after the excellent rainfall and inflows in the Murray River during September.
Although Echuca didn't reach the same levels as the 1993 floods, it was still an impressive sight to see the water lapping the levee banks and pushing its way through the bush; blocking many roads on the way. With the large amount of rainfall, many of the smaller rivers and creeks were running again and the district’s water storage levels have been boosted to the highest levels since the ‘90s.
One thing that the rising water has done is flick the switch on the golden perch. Within a period of two weeks all my reports of yellowbelly captures tallied up to just under 200 fish with 95% of those were caught on bait.
The majority of anglers have been doing the right thing and only taking a few for a feed, but there has been a few reports of fishos taking up to 30 yellas. I don't know about you, but I reckon I'd be sick of the taste after a few consecutive feeds and fish that comes out of the freezer never tastes the same.
It’s people like this who don’t care about size and bag limits that will be the ones complaining in years to come that there's no fish in the river.
I have heard another unconfirmed report of an angler fishing below Stevens Weir, allegedly he was well over the possession limit and was caught out by Fisheries Inspectors. Apparently they seized the anglers fishing gear, car, boat and trailer. If this is the case, then Fisheries deserve a pat on the back for not only being out on the water doing their patrols, but not just giving people a slap on the wrist. Instead they are hitting them where it hurts: the back pocket. It seems that this is what it’s come to for people to get the message.
This next report is one that probably nearly every angler could only dream about. A few weeks ago I had a mad keen local, who we will call Peter, call into the shop and had one of the biggest grins I have ever seen on an angler’s face when I asked how his fishing has been.
Peter said he had been fishing the Edward River and landed four cod over 1m in two weeks before the close of the season. Keeping the details short and sweet (and rightly so!) the key to his success was fishing in front of rise of water before the dirty water came through. The fish were all caught on spinnerbaits.
The biggest measured in at 137cm and was weighed in a sling at 51kg, that's just on 112lb in the old scale, and after seeing a photo it looked every bit of it. All fish were released.
The waters below Stevens Weir had almost turned to liquid gold when water was released mid September. One angler I spoke to landed 45 yellas for the day between himself and his fishing partner. Shrimp and worm was the bait of choice and when things were quiet they found that keeping the bait moving seemed to keep the golden perch interested.
While the fish were obviously there, they showed no interest in any lures and preferred to only feed on fresh bait. Out of the 45 yellas caught they only took home six between them.
Shrimp had also worked well for another angler who caught 19 cod up to 40cm in one day fishing from the bank at Picnic Point Mathoura. All were released, which is a great the future stocks.
With many tracks cut off due to the flooded forest around Barmah, anglers have been launching boats next to the bridge over the Broken Creek and then making their way to Murray to fish the cubungi lined banks in hope of picking up a golden perch tucked in close to the reeds.
Trolling small hardbodied lures up to 75mm in an assortment of colours like orange/black, yellow/black and purple has been working well.
The best reports for the larger sized yellowbelly have come from Greens Lake with a yella caught off the bank on scrubworms measuring 61cm, with a few smaller redfin caught as well.
The Campaspe River at Elmore produced two golden perch estimated at 8lb and 9lb while back at Echuca, John Hannon landed a few yellas one afternoon with the biggest measuring 51cm while casting soft plastics in an area where the water had flooded over new ground. From all reports plenty of golden perch have been taken while fishing the flooded ground.
With no shortage of worms and insects being washed out of the ground it's easy pickings for the fish to go foraging through the grasses for an easy meal. Another local angler picked up three yellas while drifting an unweighted scrubworm in water no deeper than 2ft so if the food is there they don't mind coming out of their comfort zone.
Fishing with baits such as scrubworms, yabbies, shrimp and nightcrawler worms should be more effective in the dirty water until it clears up but it's always worth tossing a few lures around in the meantime.
Just a caution to anyone making their way up to the river for fishing, boating or camping; to pick their campsite carefully as there has been a number of large gum trees that have either lost limbs or the whole tree has fallen over due to the ground being so moist.
Care should also be taken on the water as many trees and branches have been seen floating just under the water line and if hit at speed could do severe damage.
For more information on what's biting around Echuca and Moama, drop into J.T's Fishing & Camping, opposite the Border Inn Hotel Moama, or phone 0354 803868.Reads: 3262