Elton Road woes
  |  First Published: September 2008

In West Gippsland, the excitement of the approaching trout season has been tempered by the imminent loss of another prime angling water.

The carpark and popular camping area on the Tarago River at the Eltons Road Bridge upstream of the Tarago Reservoir has been enclosed behind a cyclone fence to deter campers. Although it is still possible to access the river for fishing, Melbourne Water have plans to restrict all access to the Tarago River either side of the Eltons Road bridge.

As an angler it is very frustrating to see one of my favourite spots closed to the public, and even more so to see another popular camping ground disappear in West Gippsland. There is, however, a side of me that understands why this has happened.

After hearing news of the fence being erected, I went down to have a look to find the place an absolute mess. Four wheel-drivers carving mud baths out of the track alongside the fence which consequently flows into the river, rubbish everywhere and people obviously still totally disregarding the fact that it is a closed season on trout.

Speaking to the contractors erecting the fence, they commented that every day there are at least five people turning up with nets, fishing rods, spears, air rifles and other firearms, all chasing the large spawning trout. And then we wonder why more and more fishing and camping spots are closed off.

I know VFM readers are not the culprits, these ferals are a breed unto themselves, but it is so frustrating because their behaviour ultimately impacts us.

Moving on to a more positive note, the trout season is opening on the September 6. I envisage the trout streams around Noojee will be packed with anglers, but don’t ignore those smaller streams around West and South Gippsland. Remember that there will be plenty of big trout still returning from their escapades upstream in the smaller tributaries. Trekking through bush and farmland (with permission) to find them will certainly be rewarding.

Water levels are fluctuating in all streams with the inconsistent showers this catchment has been receiving, but you’ll certainly see rivers like the Tanjil, Toorongo and Latrobe downstream of the timber mill at Noojee rise as the snow melts off Mt Baw Baw. This should create terrific conditions for trout.

In South Gippsland Phill Weeks, from Great Southern Outdoors in Leongatha, recommends the upper reaches of the Powlett River and Archies Creek around Wonthaggi as good spots to target trout come the season opener. He said that a 2.5kg brown was caught in the Powlett six months ago, so it is an exciting prospect to think that there could be a few more big ones swimming around. These trout would no doubt be wild, not stocked, so they will be stream-smart.

Phill is a flyfisherman and suggests choosing flies that best resemble local insects. He reckons anything yellow and green (nothing to do with the Olympics!) will certainly be successful as the wattles are starting to flower. His personal favourites are anything in a mudeye pattern or the popular Red Tag dry fly.

The river blackfish season also closes on September 1 until December 31.

If you have any reports, questions or photos, please don’t hesitate to email me.

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