October is one of my favourite times of year to fish in the Wangaratta area. The trout streams are usually at their peak for the year, the redfin and yellowbelly are starting to become more of an expected catch and the anticipation slowly begins to build as we look forward to the upcoming Murray cod season beginning in December.
Clear, cold well oxygenated water is what we have come to expect in the trout streams during October. The last of the snowmelt delivers icy cold water to the headwaters of the major rivers, and the water pouring out of the soaked springs and hillsides begins to dry up and recede.
The more major rivers like the Ovens and King rivers will most likely still be flowing quite strongly during October, especially during the first half of the month. Drifting a lightly weighted bunch of worms in the high water will be a dynamite technique to pick up a trout, especially in the Ovens River, which is snow fed for longer due to the higher mountains in its catchment.
Anglers heading anywhere along the Ovens River upstream of Porpunkah will be putting themselves in the hot seat to pick up a few trout. The Ovens River itself was probably the most fish rich river in the catchment last season and I am expecting this season to be no different.
The King River downstream of Lake William Hovell may fish alright during October, but I’m not expecting it to produce big numbers of fish like the Ovens River. Upstream of Lake William Hovell may be a different story however as there are quite a lot more fish due to better natural recruitment.
Drifting worms will be a productive method in this area during October. Provided we don’t get too much rain in September, casting bladed spinners should work a treat as well. I always find metallic bladed spinners work well early in the season. Spinners such as Celta’s and gold Super Vibrax’s are a great starting point.
The many smaller streams in the area are usually at their peak during October as the water flow is still strong and cold. The trout feed up heavily putting on condition before the water warms in November and they start to slow down.
Small minnows can be a dynamite way to target the trout in these little waterways during the spring months. Minnows such as Pontoon21 Crackjacks and Asari Kiro Minnows are a great starting point.
I am far from a fly fishing expert, but what often works for me during October is a tiny black or brown bead headed nymph suspended underneath a larger dry fly such as a Royal Stimulator. The size of the creek I am fishing usually determines how far underneath my dry fly I suspend my nymph. In the smaller streams it may be only suspended around 30-40cm, whereas in the larger rivers like the Ovens River with deeper water I may have the nymph as far as 70-80cm underneath my dry fly.
Towards the second half of October the redfin should start to get active in most areas. In Lake William Hovell and Lake Buffalo catches of redfin will become more frequent, and in the small streams it is usually a similar story. Some of the small streams in the area have produced great redfin all winter, which has provided me with an opportunity to wet a line during the quietest time of the year. During October these opportunities will expand as more and more streams and dams begin to produce regular catches of redfin.
There is really only one native species of fish to target in this area during October and that is the golden perch. The Ovens River catchment is far from the best yellowbelly fishery in the country, however there are a few around if you know where to look.
The lower reaches of the Ovens River has a few yellowbelly in it. I wouldn’t say it has good numbers, but there certainly are a few there. Most encounters with yellowbelly are from Peechelba downstream to the junction with the Murray River at Bundalong. Occasionally a yellowbelly or two will turn up around Wangaratta, however if you are specifically targeting them I would head down towards Peechelba or Bundalong.
Lake Sambell in Beechworth is once again being stocked annually with yellowbelly, which is fantastic news. The lake use to be stocked with yellowbelly, but stocking was suspended when the endangered trout cod were first released. Thankfully suspension has been lifted and Lake Sambell is once again a yellowbelly fishing destination during the spring months.
Yellowbelly usually start showing up from around mid to late October. Lipless crankbaits are probably the best lures to catch yellowbelly, preferably the slightly smaller ones. Lures such as Jackall TN60 and Asari Karasu are a great starting point and account for a lot of yellowbelly each year.Reads: 1505