Drier Spring leads to great fishing
  |  First Published: November 2011

It’s amazing the difference 12 months can make. Last spring we had water everywhere, but this spring has been quite the opposite.

Midway through September, which is traditionally our wettest month of the year, we have had very little rainfall and the Ovens River in Wangaratta is looking better than it did at any time last summer.

The fishing has been dominated by trout leading up to November, as it is this time every year with both the Ovens and King rivers fishing well.

Heading into November the water levels should have receded well in most rivers, and the trout fishing should be first rate.

The Ovens River from Porepunkah upstream should fish very well as the last of the snow should pretty well be gone by November and the water levels should be ideal.

Last season the Buckland River started coming to life, especially as a rainbow trout fishery, and I would expect by November that should continue this season.

The King River from Whitfield upstream has good numbers of brown trout which should be biting well in November also. Pretty much all methods should work fine, however I think casting lures or spinners should work best.

Worms are great bait in the King River for trout, however in November it depends how much rain we have had. If we haven’t had a lot of rain, I would give the worms a miss and try a bladed spinner like a Rooster Tail or Super Vibrax.

The King River upstream of Lake William Hovell is a fantastic river, with super clear water and good numbers of naturally recruiting brown and rainbow trout. There is a very large area between top Crossing Hut and Pineapple Flat, which is only ever fished by the most dedicated angler. It’s a stretch of river some 20-30km long that pretty much has no access. The only way to fish this area is to either float down from Pineapple Flat for a couple of days in an inflatable boat or kayak, or hike up from top Crossing Hut for a few days backpack fishing.

As a result of the very low fishing pressure in this area, a lot of spawning takes place uninterrupted, which is why the upper King River can handle the large amounts of fishing pressure it receives each year. This remote area recruits good numbers of trout each season, which then distribute throughout the entire upper King River system making it a fantastic sustainable trout fishery.

As far as flyfishing goes, I certainly am no expert. I absolutely love my flyfishing, but don’t write a lot about it because I feel I don’t know enough.

What I have learnt though is that November is mayfly season. The major rivers such as the Ovens and King have good hatches of mayflies, especially during the last hour or so of the day, a time many flyfishers refer to as the evening rise.

During the summer months I like to use a Stimulator dry fly, but in November I like the mayfly patterns best.

Redfin and Yellowbelly

By November Lake Buffalo will be worth a fish for anybody in this area targeting redfin or yellowbelly. Lake Buffalo has had redfin in it for as long as I can remember, and the yellowbelly have been a later addition.

Yellowbelly numbers are not huge in Lake Buffalo, which means there are some very large fish amongst them. I wouldn’t go there expecting to catch large numbers, however if I was targeting a trophy fish I certainly would head up there.

Last November I heard of a 4kg yellowbelly being caught near the boat ramp and I have no doubt there are much bigger yellas than that in there. Peter Condron angled a small yellowbelly off the bank on a bunch of worms back in August when we had a couple of warmer than average days. Hopefully this is a sign of what’s to come during November and December.

One dynamite technique which has worked very well for me over the years is to fish a running sinker rig with no stopper. Hook a yabby through the tail, then from a boat just bob the yabby up and down off the bottom, like you might do with a soft plastic and the yellas love it. Yellowbelly love moving bait.

Don’t jag it too hard because you don’t want to pull the hook out of the yabbies tail, just gently bob the yabby up and down and hold on tight. This technique use to work very well for us in Lake Mokoan before it was decommissioned.

Last year I discovered yellowbelly respond very well to blades. I caught quite a few yellas on 42mm blades. Small to medium-sized hardbodied lures trolled behind a boat is another good way of catching yellas. Medium lures like number 2 Stumpjumpers, JD Depthmaster’s , medium sized Oargee’s and so on are great.

Lake William Hovell will be worth a look for some redfin as well. There are tonnes of redfin in this beautiful little lake, and by November there numbers should be starting to improve.

Personally I like casting small soft plastics in this lake for the redfin, or angling with a paternoster rig and a very tiny yabby.

In November, while chasing redfin in Lake William Hovel, don’t be surprised if you find a trout on the end of your line as they are still encountered frequently up there in November.

The best thing about Novembers is that cod season is just around the corner. Cod season opens on 1st December.

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