Time for a few trout and blackfish
  |  First Published: May 2013

River blackfish to 50cm have been caught in the Gellibrand River in recent weeks.

The top baits are small bait sized yabbies and scrub worms. A good place to start is the Chappell Vale area and setting oneself up beside the river in the early evening with a torch and lantern as well as plenty of liquid refreshment (non alcoholic of course) as it is still very warm.

Find yourself a posse and memorise your way out back to the car as you will finish fishing well after dark. River blackfish are most active from dusk onwards. Also if you intend to cross farmland please call into the respective farmhouse and ask permission.

If anything this may guarantee a return fishing trip to the same spot. Especially if you take any rubbish away with you.

Please watch out for snakes as they are prevalent at this time of year. Oh, and don’t forget the mosquito repellent.

Take a stiff rod no more than 1.8m in length. In case you have to go bush bashing any tree branches your rod encounters, a stiff rod will lessen the chances of breakage. A single pea sinker running down on top of a bream sized hook (size 2) is all the terminal rigging you need to do.

Lower your bait in a likely place (like next to a partly submerged log on the upstream side of the current) and simply wait for a strike. This generally happens after sunset. Blackfish often tend to start off nibbling your bait. Let them. Once the rod has a distinct bend in the tip, strike. Then ‘skull drag’ the fish to the surface. Don’t give the fish an inch to run back into a plethora of snags that exist in the Gellibrand.

Now many people eat this fish and if cooked correctly and fresh, it’s palatable. That’s just my opinion. Please remember the bag limits and they are that only five can be taken per angler in a single day. According to the 2012 Recreational fishing guide no minimum size currently exists.

Now the Gellibrand River holds the biggest population of blackfish in Victoria (and Australia) and although many fish only average a few 100g, I’ve personally seen a 1.8kg fish angled from this stream. My personal best was a 1.2kg fish caught and released some years ago. They can grow much, much bigger.

The record currently stands at well over 3kg for a blacky. I personally believe that all river blackfish should be released as these fish are considered vulnerable due to habitat degeneration in many streams across Victoria occurring over many decades of clearing and the Gellibrand is considered the last stronghold of this excellent fighting fish.

Take a digital camera and photograph this magnificent fish before releasing it.

It’s well worth the trip.

On a more serious note, our freshwater lakes and streams are in serious trouble due to the prolonged heat wave and lack of rainfall throughout much of February and March. Hopefully we’ve had an autumn break by May.

Lake Tooliorook is very low and choked with weed; Lake Elingamite is way too low to launch any sort of water borne craft. Deep Lake is exactly the opposite and the Mount Emu Creek has no flow and parts of this stream are stagnant.

Presently the only bright side is our deep water crater lakes Purrumbete and Bullen Merri. I have very little to tell you regarding Bullen Merri but Purrumbete is presently performing well for brown trout to 2.5kg taking winged lures in white flat line trolled at first light or to depths of up to 8m during the day.

To be frank; we need rain and we need it now.

The author with a typical Purrumbete brown trout taken on the troll.

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