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The rise and rise of Lake Eildon
  |  First Published: December 2010



To say the amount of rain Eildon has received has been good would be an understatement.

In fact it has been nothing short of spectacular, and for many reasons. The simple fact we can drive over the lake at Bonnie Doon again, to speak to business owners and locals alike, the excitement is contagious.

With a wetter than average summer also predicted the excitement will just continue to grow now the new year has arrived.

One thing is for certain the influx of water will bring new dangers for all boaters in the form of floaters, underlying trees and new rock points. I live locally and fish here on a very regular basis and the landscape changes from day to day so be very careful on the water.

New Ground Covered

One of the main benefits of the rains and the sudden water level rise is the fact that so much fertile ground had been covered with water. This means new food sources, and lots of it. The upcoming season for natives especially Murray cod could be just like 1987/88 when Eildon was last at its true self.

In my opinion that the real benefits will be seen in years to come, with such an abundance of food on offer, bringing on condition and size the likes that could blow our minds like never before.

Stocking Programs

This year will be the year where the fisheries native fish stocking programs will get the recognition it deserves. They need a pat on the back for planning to put in one million Murray cod every three years. Just imagine 333,333 cod per year into Eildon and how good the cod fishery will be in 7-10years. It will be pure gold. This fantastic news is also on top of this year’s 150,000 cod and 200,000 yellowbelly.

These programs are showing great results with the best start to a native season that I have ever seen.

Where to Fish?

As we are all aware Eildon has changed dramatically from one end to the other. Most people (myself included) tend to fish the same spots time after time and do ok. I think this season the people who think outside the square and really explore new areas and techniques could really be rewarded with big fish.

Already this season myself and a group of mates have caught stacks of good yellowbelly and just as many by-catch Murray cod. The yellowbelly have ranged up to a whopping 65cm and 20lb caught by Richard Timms of Eildon.

Surprisingly so far the average yellowbelly has been around the 8-10lb mark with my favourite eating size of 2-3lb nowhere to be seen. I am sure come the heat of summer they will be back.

It’s good the cod season is well and truly open, as the cod just want to eat. Even though we have been targeting yellowbelly since October, an amazing amount of cod have been caught released, with a lot of cod around the 45-50cm being very aggressive to say the least.

The best cod caught so far that I know of was a crackin fish of 92cm caught by Shane ‘Bunga’ Dyason on a 50cm lipless crank fishing in 1m of water somewhere up the Delatite arm.

Bunga caught this fish on a Pflueger Patriarch XT overhead with code red Spiderwire and 8lb trilene leader. Who says you need heavy-duty lines to catch big fish.

Where to fish?

The areas I would be fishing this year will vary all over the lake. Bonnie Doon’s freshly covered shallows will be a winner all summer I predict for all styles of fishing. The Delatite arm produces fish particularly when the water heats right up, and the same goes for Point Shaw. At the top end of Frasers is also worth a go unless the skiing traffic gets a bit silly.

All of the shores along the main arm will produce fish; it is just a matter of sounding them up. I’m lucky enough to have a Humminbird 798 side image sounder, which helps a lot too.

The dam wall was absolutely flogged when it fished well early in the season but tapered off recently after so much attention being paid to it. It could still be worth a shot though.

On the way up to Big River there is some great looking rock walls worth stopping for a flick. Big River itself is looking really different to last year.

Trollers will do well in the river proper, but the flats off either side will fire in the evenings as well. Now does anyone remember Goughs Bay? I know I have neglected that end of the lake for the past three years, with the level at over 70% I won’t know where to start when I get because it will look so different.

As far as fishing pressure goes, Goughs Bay would see the least traffic anywhere on the lake.

Tackle

We know tackle is a very personal thing, just like brands of cars, beer and burgers!

Rods and Reels

I generally have about six rods with me when chasing natives.

Two x Baitcasters – Howler Customs 6”6 with Pflueger Patriarch Reels (one with 10lb and one with 20lb Stren Sonic braid) with Trilene Leader material varying from 6-20lb.

Two x heavier spin rods – Howler Customs St Croix 5-10lb with Pflueger Supreme XTS 2500s Reels with 10lb sonic braid with Tri Lene Leader material will vary from 4-12lb

Two x Light Spin Rods – Howler Custom St Croix 2-4lb with Pflueger XTS Supreme 2000 3lb Stren Microfuse with Trilene Leader Material will vary from 2-6lb

Suspending Hardbodied Lures

Now I know everyone is going to say this looks like a selection bream lures, well you are spot on. This smaller style suspending lure work a treat on yellowbelly and the odd cod. My personal best yellowbelly was a 15lb 6oz fish on an Ecogear SX40.

The standouts in this group are the Mira Shad 50, Fat Dog Deep and the Cultiva Rippin Minnow 65.

The retrieve you need to use is simple. Two or three fast winds to get your hardbodied lure to the required depth, followed by soft twitches and long pauses. Generally you will get smashed on the pause.

Lipless Cranks and Vibes

These style lures as we know are dynamite on natives and with so many lures on the mark, where do you start?

The stand outs here are the Berkley MF 50 Vibe, Cultiva Mira Vibe 60, Ecogear VT-55 and the Jackall TN 50.

Spinnerbaits

Once again so many to choose from. Stand out brands include Outlaw, Murray River, Auspin and Bassman (colour: - purple and black). Also with spinner baits, ring the changes a bit when using a plastic on your spinner bait. Don’t use a standard plastic, perhaps try a Berkley Gulp 4” minnow grub or a 5” gulp jerk shad. Believe me when I say that natives love Gulp.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastics are extremely underrated when it comes to natives, but I catch more yellowbelly and cod on plastics than any other type of lure. The absolute standout of the plastics is the 2.5”, 3.5” Berkley T-Tail in black and gold.

These things are a spitting image of the baitfish in the lake, and surprisingly my bigger fish have come on the smaller model.

The Berkley Gulp 2.5 and 3.5 shrimp in banana prawn are pretty radical also. Weird but true.

The Atomic 4” Prong lightly-weighted around structure does well for big cod in deep water.

The Squidgy pre-rigged set-ups in redfin and even the white does some incredible damage. The bream fishers favourite, the Berkley Gulp Camo Turtleback is also a firm favourite with Eildon yellowbelly – they love them.

The condition of the lake and the fish that call Eildon home is outstanding. Who would have thought 12 months ago that we would see such a dramatic resurgence in this iconic Victorian lake.

Put it at the top of your fishing list for 2011.

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