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Lake Dartmouth is trout angler’s best option
  |  First Published: July 2012



July is here and the trout season closure is in full swing; all of the streams in the area are off limits to trout anglers.

There are some viable options in the area to target trout however, and the best option in July is the massive Lake Dartmouth.

Dartmouth fishes very well for trout every winter, with the most popular technique being flat-line trolling with winged lures such as Tassie Devils. This is a productive technique all day in Lake Dartmouth, however the early morning and late afternoon periods seem to be most productive.

Many streams and lakes that flow into Dartmouth run through heavily forested areas that are quite inaccessible and rarely fished, and trout in the lake are self sustaining and the lake doesn’t need to be stocked.

Trout to 1.2kg, or 45cm are common in Lake Dartmouth, however larger trophy fish are quite rare. For winter trophy trout you are better off heading across to the Khancoban Pondage. Khancoban Pondage is quite a small shallow lake that can be trolled around in short time. It has a flat bottom that provides opportunity for aquatic weeds to grow, which kick-starts a marvellous ecosystem which leads to fast growth rates of trout.

The aquatic weed provides habitat for much of the trout’s food source such as nymphs, water snails and minnows. The pondage can be very hit and miss though, with some days providing spectacular fishing and other days providing nothing. The water in the pondage fluctuates quite regularly as it is a regulating pondage in the Snowy Hydro system, and the fluctuating water level could have something to do with the erratic fishing.

With that said, if you manage to land at Khancoban Pondage on a good day you put yourself in the position to catch a real trophy trout. Trout over 4.5kg have been caught in Khancoban Pondage.

Once again winged lures work well in the pondage but can be a bit tricky to troll due to the floating weed. The end of the lake closest to the wall is usually easier to troll because of less weed on the surface. My best mate Sandy Hector and I fish the lake each year with varying levels of success, and our favourite technique is to fish a live mudeye underneath a float.

This is a tried and proven technique in Khancoban. The hardest part is finding live mudeyes in the depths of winter. We usually buy ours from a tackle store or bait dealer before we leave.

Aside from those two lakes, there are plenty of small stocked trout fisheries in the area. Mt Beauty Pondage, Alans Flat Waterhole, and Sandy Creek Dam are all stocked with yearling rainbow trout at the end of June each year to provide the kids with fantastic fishing opportunities during the school holidays.

When fishing for these stocked rainbow trout, I find fishing with tiny soft plastics to be a fantastic way of catching fish. The tiny Strike Tiger 1” nymph is deadly on trout, or a little Damiki M or F grub with a very small jighead. Cast the plastic out, let it sink a little bit, then very slowly start retrieving the plastic back towards you, twitching the rod tip at random to breathe life into your soft plastic. The trout will find it irresistible.

NATIVE FISH

The depths of winter are always tough going for native fish. By the middle of May, despite several decent frosts and icy cold water there were still some decent Murray cod being caught in the Kiewa River from Gundowring downstream to the junction with the Murray River near Albury.

Brenton Richardson has been catching quite a few cod varying in size up to 70cm late in the season. Most of Brenton’s fish have been caught on Mudguts spinnerbaits while fishing from his kayak.

In July the fishing will be tough, but the dedicated angler may still pick up a few cod providing we don’t get too much rain.

The yellowbelly in both Lake Hume and Alans Flat Waterhole will be very quiet and will be little more than a possibility rather than an expectation during July. If you go to Alans Flat during winter you have an excellent chance of catching a rainbow trout, a reasonable chance of catching a redfin or tench and a remote chance of catching a yellowbelly.
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