Winter limits choice
  |  First Published: July 2011

The depths of winter are upon us, and our fishing choices are limited.

Throughout late autumn the redfin have been firing at lake William Hovell. Towards the end of autumn, as the water got colder and colder, the redfin numbers in the lake dropped off, but the average size increased dramatically; and so too did the number of trout I caught.

I took some really nice redfin late in May with a few going over the 40cm mark, one of which went 43.5cm, which is a decent redfin from Lake William Hovell. The trout have not been large, with the largest being around the 35cm mark.

Most of my redfin have been caught on soft plastics. The main weapons of choice have been the 3” Damiki D-grub in gold mix flake, and the new J.D Realistix flick baits in brown trout pattern.

Heading into July I would imagine that lake William Hovell will continue to fish quite well for trout, and redfin will become a bit more infrequent, but still a viable target.

I find in the colder weather that the big redfin are found down deep, in more than 8m of water, and the best way to get them out with a soft plastic is to make sure you are using a heavy jighead.

I have been using either 6g or 7g jigheads, depending on what I can get my hands on, which not only cast further but drag the soft plastic down to the bottom much quicker.

I have been casting out as far as I can, leaving the bail open on my reel and allowing the plastic to sink all the way to the bottom. Then I slowly start retrieving it, twitching the rod tip to impart some action into the plastic. After retrieving it about a quarter of the way, I pause to let it sink back down to the bottom again; this ensures the plastic is close to the bottom for the whole time, keeping it in the strike zone.

Heading into July, this technique should still work well with the redfin, but during the depths of winter it’s all about the 3 P’s – patience, persistence and perseverance.


Trout on the other hand, should be at the height of their activity for Lake William Hovell during July, and flat line trolling with winged lures such as Tassie Devils is always a great place to start, particularly during the low light periods.

Trolled small hardbodied lures are also a proven successful method of taking trout at Lake William Hovell, and have taken quite a few larger fish around 2kg over the years. Small Rapalas are always popular with anglers, and are my favourites, but the Eddies Lip Rippa and Pontoon21 Greedyguts lures have also served me well.

Something I plan on doing more work with in not only Lake William Hovell, but other lakes in the area over winter is using blades. During autumn, I have had a lot of success with trout in Lake William Hovell just casting blades from my kayak. I have been using mainly Damiki Vault42 blades in the lake with fantastic results, and back in early autumn I was using the Koolabung X-Ray blades in the King River below the lake with great results as well. I have come to realise that trout like to hit blades, and I am planning to do a lot more fishing with them in the lakes during winter.

It’s not all about lures, bait fishers are having varying success in Lake William Hovell during winter when targeting trout. Mudeyes are very hard to come by in winter, however if you can find them either in the bush or at a tackle store, they are well worth suspending under a float and drifting over the weedy shallow perimeters of the lake, especially around the southern bank.

Scrubworms account for a few trout also, but it’s the mudeyes that the trout find hard to refuse - if you can find some!


The only real option in this area during July to target Murray cod is Lake Mulwala. The serious, hardcore cod angler will get results in the Ovens and King rivers, subject to weather and rainfall, however these rivers are not a place I would recommend anybody head during the colder months to go fishing because it can be a very long time between fish!

The fishing forecast for Lake Mulwala is uncertain this year because they are draining the lake. However my best mate Sandy Hector and I fished it during July last time they drained the lake and had pretty good results, landing a few Murray cod in the usually submerged river course.

It was pretty much canoe and kayak only back then, and I would imagine that this July will be the same. As Lake Mulwala is not actually a water storage, and is designed to be full at all times, none of the boat ramps extend very far into the lake, so when the lake does drop, the ramps all become exposed! The lake is actually designed to lift the water level so that gravity can feed water into the irrigation channels.

Try using large hardbodied lures in the deeper holes. Deep diving 140mm J.D Pythons are a proven fish taker in Lake Mulwala, and the whole Murray River in general.

Another of our favourites, and the lure that is Sandy’s go-to Murray cod lure in Lake Mulwala, are the Swagman Jumbuck lures. They are quite large and dive to around 10m. We have caught literally hundreds of Murray cod in the river at lake Mulwala over the years on Jumbucks! Unfortunately, I am not sure whether these awesome lures are still made or not, because they are very hard to find.

If anybody knows anything about these Swagman lures, and whether there still available or not, feel free to email me at --e-mail address hidden--

Regardless of the water level in Mulwala, during July the cod fishing is always quieter, however there is usually a few fish still on the chew, and July and August are the best times of year to catch the true monsters.

Good luck with your July fishing, and make sure you pack your thermals wherever you head.

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