Lake William Hovell
  |  First Published: March 2012

Buried deep into the northern side of the Great Dividing Range in the upper reaches of the King River lays one of the most amazing, pretty and tranquil places you are ever likely to visit, and that place is lake William Hovell.

The Lake

The lake was built back in the early 1970s and stores water for irrigation along the King Valley from Cheshunt to Wangaratta. The lake is quite small at around 13,500ML and water levels usually start to drop around January when the downstream irrigation really kicks in and by May it is usually quite low.

As soon as winter rains return the lake fills quite quickly. It is not uncommon to see Lake William Hovell go from being 100% capacity in January, to 10 or 15% capacity in May, and then back to 100% by the middle of June.

With water so clear you can often see the bottom in 4-5m of water, and with a 10hp motor limit, it is easy to see why this wonderful little lake is such a popular area for families to visit.

In summer Lake William Hovell is a fantastic redfin perch fishery, and family picnicking spot with BBQs available, undercover areas, playing areas and toilet blocks.

In the winter months the lake can really turn into a brown trout hotspot.

Fishing from boats is allowed, but as mentioned above there is a 10knot, and 10hp speed limit. I have seen larger motors on the lake, and I think that as long as people are staying under 10knots there shouldn’t be any problems.

It’s only when the idiots get up there and start hooning around that the laid back attitude of the lake will be ruined for everyone. There is a very wide and gentle double boat ramp at the picnic grounds which gets steeper as the water level in the lake drops during the irrigation season, and there is a very large car park for cars with boat trailers.

Lake William Hovell is becoming increasingly popular with recreational type boating, such as kayaks, canoes and small inflatable boats. I fish it regularly from my kayak.

In winter I like to paddle across the lake in complete darkness to get to the top of the lake in time to fish that magical daybreak time.

The Fishing

Lake William Hovell is my only 12-month fishery in this area. By this I mean I can head up there any time of year and fish for something.

January to the end of March is usually great redfin fishing, especially in March. During April the redfin continue to fire, but a few trout start to appear, particularly later in the day and by May it is a real mixed fishery for trout and redfin.

June, July and August see a few redfin being caught, but it is mainly a trout fishing destination, and this continues through September and October. By November catches of redfin start to improve and the trout are still usually quite frequent, especially around the start of November.

By December it is back to being a redfin fishery. Personally my favourite time of the year to fish Lake William Hovell is during autumn when the bigger redfin are usually encountered, the trout are starting to show up, and the weather is usually quite nice.

Speaking of weather, Lake William Hovell sits at an altitude of around 400m above sea level, and being set back in the mountains so far means this lake can get very cold in winter so make sure you are prepared.


The best technique for catching redfin is to use a very small yabby rigged on a paternoster rig and a small sinker, and fished in about 8m of water anywhere in the lake.

Another technique that I have had a lot of success with is casting a 3’ curl tail grub soft plastic, weighted with a heavy jighead, usually around 7g. I like the heavy jig heads because they allow me to cast further and they also allow the soft plastic to sink quickly.

The best technique for trout is trolling small lures, either small hardbodied lures or small winged lures like Tassie Devils.

Last winter I had a lot of success casting small 42mm metal blades and retrieving them from my kayak. The biggest key to trout success in Lake William Hovell is to fish very early in the morning on daybreak, and late in the evening as the sun is setting.


If you’re thinking of taking the family for a day out somewhere, consider Lake William Hovell.

There is abundant wildlife up there including colourful birds and kangaroos, some fantastic fishing and plenty of areas to swim and fish off the bank at the picnic area.

It really is just a fantastic tranquil sub-alpine environment to spend a lazy day.

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