July is usually a pretty quiet time of year in this region for stream fishing.
The trout season has now well and truly closed till September and the idea of chasing river blackfish or eel isn’t too inviting on a cold damp winter day. Thankfully in this region we have a great little lake called Blue Rock and despite its name it can be a great way to shake off the winter fishing blues.
Located only 25 minutes north-east of Warragul, Blue Rock offers two boat ramps at either end of the lake to launch from and plenty of bank fishing access for the land-based anglers. The lake has a 9.9hp engine limit and a 4.3m hull limit and whilst there are a number of negatives on having such a limit in place, it does mean that you are only going to come across likeminded lake users in small craft and kayaks.
In fact the busiest day I’ve ever seen on Blue Rock was about a dozen tinnies and a dozen kayakers out on the lake so you know you are pretty much going to have the lake to yourself. And that means less pressure on the fishery! In saying this, you do have to work hard for a decent fish.
This time of the year is definitely the most productive when it comes to chasing target species like trout and redfin. The best surprise which has surfaced this year is the increasing numbers of anglers hooking into bass.
All the bass (from my records) have been caught by anglers fishing out on the lake in boats or kayaks. From this, kayakers have certainly been more productive than their counterpart anglers in boats. This indicates that having stealth helps a lot when targeting these fish and kayakers also have that advantage of being able to get their vessels right into the snags, which Blue Rock offers many.
The bass caught from boats have usually been stationary and tied to trees in amongst snags which backs up my theory. Boat users may want to invest in an electric outboard if they want to get serious about this sport in the future. I haven’t yet had reports of any bass being caught from the bank but this shouldn’t discourage anglers from trying and if you have, then I’d love to hear your successes.
Productive anglers have been using lures to woo their fish. Bass have predominately been striking on a range of hardbodied lures and soft plastics. This means you don’t need a particular brand of lure but it comes down to time and patience. The anglers targeting bass have worked hard to get a strike but once they find the patch, they have had fun catching and releasing a hand full at a time.
Bait has also been the other successful technique and big garden worms under float next to a dead tree have allowed anglers to have a more exciting by-catch when targeting trout, redfin or carp. Bass in the lake are typically low to mid 20cm and are still being caught right through winter.
Toby Eastburn of Facebook page WiFish in Gippsland has caught and released the biggest bass I’ve seen come out of Blue Rock which was 30cm caught on a diving minnow-styled hardbodied lure in a brown trout pattern. He’s been fishing Blue Rock hard over the last few months targeting bass and has had some great outings catching and releasing half a dozen bass at a time from his kayak.
Trolling the lake this time of the year on a still calm day is a great method for catching trout. Most trout caught are browns but the lake has been stocked regularly over the last few years with rainbows. Trout typically grow to 30-40cm but there are some much bigger fish swimming around and with less angling pressure, it’s only a matter of time before you hook into a big trout. Flat line trolling is a simple technique and it allows you to use the gear you most likely already have. The more serious trolling anglers will dabble with a downrigger system on the boat.
Feel free to email me any reports, questions and photos, particularly if you have had any luck before the end of the trout season or over winter at Blue Rock Lake.
Tony Eastburn with one of his great bass caught and released at Blue Rock. Flicking lures from the kayak has been hard work but proven to be the most productive method in catching these exciting sport fish.Reads: 17227