Fishing in July in North East Victoria can best be described by one word - SLOW. July is the hardest month of the year to catch fish around here, however there are still a few options available for persistent anglers.
The final weeks of the trout season saw some great fishing in most of the rivers and creeks in the area. The Ovens River upstream of Bright has seen great fishing all season and continued to fish very well with plenty of both brown and rainbow trout.
The King River was a bit slower, particularly downstream of Lake William Hovell, however there were still some lovely trout caught around the Whitfield and Cheshunt areas.
The small streams in the area showed their true colours providing some great late season fishing for those brave enough to scrape the ice off their windscreen and venture out into the giant freezer.
As all the rivers and creeks in the area are now completely off limits to trout fishing, anglers looking to catch a trout are restricted to the lakes in the area, and the best lake in the Ovens catchment to catch a trout is Lake William Hovell. I fish there every winter from my kayak and usually manage a few trout.
The average size of the trout in Lake William Hovell is not huge, and my biggest over the last 12 months has been around 1kg or a little bit under. In the past I have seen trout to 2kg caught in the lake, however this is quite rare these days.
The average size is around 30cm and the best way to catch them is by trolling small minnows or winged lures around anywhere in the lake, or by casting blades. Blades are an awesome casting lure as they are small, heavy and very narrow meaning they cut through the air well. Blades can be fished effectively from the bank, or from a boat or kayak. The best way to fish them is to cast them out, let them sink for a few seconds then start retrieving with a fast/slow motion. Most fish will hit the blade when it slows right down.
Another good way to catch trout in Lake William Hovell is to use the old faithful scrub worm or garden worm. Try tying your boat to a tree in the old King River course somewhere and use either a lightly weighted or no-weight scrub worm and let the worm sink to the bottom and then sit back and relax.
The redfin fishing in the area was fantastic heading into May with many redfin being caught right across the board from Lake Buffalo to the small streams in the area. I even had a report of a couple of nice redfin being caught in the Ovens River just upstream of Myrtleford.
By mid-May a succession of heavy frosts had completely shut the redfin down in all of the streams. After a week of frosty mornings I headed out to my favourite little streams and could not even manage a single strike.
In July the redfin will be very hard to catch, particularly in the streams. Lake William Hovell will still produce a few redfin for the dedicated redfin angler, especially if they are fishing down deep in around 10m of water with a soft plastic. Some big redfin get caught each winter in Lake William Hovell, however anglers need to be very patient and move around a lot searching for the fish.
By the second half of May the Ovens River was looking the best it had looked all season. Provided we don’t get too much rain the Ovens River may be worth a fish for Murray cod in July. The fishing will be very slow though so you need to be prepared to put in the hours if you want to catch a fish.
The lower reaches of the Ovens River around Bundalong are worth a try in July, especially for anglers targeting large Murray cod. Each year there are a few monster Murray cod over 100cm caught in this area, most of which are caught by anglers trolling very large hardbodied lures such as 140mm JD pythons and number 1 Stumpjumpers.
There are Murray crayfish in both the Ovens and King rivers. The Ovens River between Wangaratta and Peechelba has quite a good number of crayfish in it however the average size is usually smaller than those caught in the Murray River. It is common for people cray fishing in the Ovens River to catch quite a few crays in a single day and not have a legal cray fish amongst them.
The King River has some larger crayfish closer to Wangaratta however there are nowhere near as many as the Ovens and I personally would not recommend it as a crayfishing destination for anglers travelling long distances.Reads: 1435