Winter is surely finished!
  |  First Published: September 2011

Well winter is almost over, and what a harsh winter it has been!

Having lived in Wangaratta all of my life, I have made a few observations over the years, and one of them is that the dry winters, are always the frostiest winters.

During a drought year, it is not uncommon to get prolonged nights dropping to -4C and even colder, whereas the wet winters are usually associated with much milder nights, and much less frost.

Last winter (2010) we barely had any frosts, and spring turned out to be very wet. This winter, we have had a minimal amount of light frosts, so I am desperately hoping that the mild winter nights are not followed by flooding spring rains, like last season, and that my theory is broken and I am proven wrong.

During the winter months, the fishing has been very quiet in this area. I have had a couple of trips to lake William Hovell, and managed a few trout each time, but nothing huge. Aside from Lake William Hovell, the handful of family friendly fishing lakes that were stocked with yearling rainbow trout prior to the July school holidays have been a huge success, especially with the kids. Lake Sambell in Beechworth, Stanley Ditch Dam and Fosters Dam have all been very popular, with many people catching themselves a trout or two.

Heading into September, my fishing instincts kick into overdrive as I prepare to pursue my favourite past time, walking the streams chasing trout. The rivers will all be high, and worms will be the order of the day in most waterways.

Scrub worms are excellent bait for trout when the streams are running high, but don’t discount the humble garden worms, tiger worms, night crawlers and so on. At this time of year worms will do. The rig I use for drifting worms is quite basic. I tie a small size 10 hook to the end of my line, and crimp 1 or 2 small split shot sinkers on, depending on the current. I like to use the lightest possible amount of split shot to do the job, so that the trout does not feel too much resistance.

In September I expect the main Ovens and King rivers to both fish really well, so too should the Rose River which was an outstanding stream last summer. The Rose River copped a lot of fishing pressure last season, but stood up to it well and consistently provided good results for anglers.

Last season I fished the Buckland River near Bright with good results. The fish I caught there were mostly rainbow trout, including one ripper that was around 1kg.

The Buckland River should once again fish well this season, especially early in the season with worms.

I know I sound repetitive going on about drifting worms all the time, but at the time of writing this report, the rivers are all very high and only one step away from flooding, and worms really are the stand out bait early in the season.

My main tips for trout angler would be the Ovens river between Bright and Harrietville, including Centennial Park right in the middle of Bright which produces fish on a regular basis. This is usually flowing a bit slower, and the King River around Cheshunt and Gentle Annie where you should be able to find some slower pools and backwaters. The Rose River will also be a good pick, drifting worms into the many deep holes early in the season.

Lake William Hovell should still produce consistent captures of trout as well, with the possibility of some bigger fish being in the lake having returned from the river following the annual spawning run. Redfin will be very hard to catch in lake William Hovell during September, as the water is very cold, the numbers usually start to increase around November.

Lake Sambell in Beechworth will still be well worth a fish during September, as fisheries stocked 750 yearling rainbow trout into the lake for the July school holidays: there should still be plenty of those trout left. Lake Sambell is right in the middle of Beechworth, and is a terrific place to take the kids fishing.

Aside from the trout fishing, there really is not a huge amount to mention for this area in September. The Ovens River around Wangaratta will be running high, most likely too high to fish in for a while.

So September really is all about trout in North East Victoria as the streams open up on Saturday the 3rd.

Don’t forget, Murray cod season officially closes at midnight August 31 for 3 months, and reopens midnight November 30.

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