The late season fishing in the Wangaratta area was very slow.
I did manage to pick up a few late season trout in some of the local rivers, however they were few and far between in comparison with recent seasons.
The upper Ovens River, upstream of Bright is usually the best trout river in the catchment. I fished it late in the season and sadly never saw a single trout. The extreme heat in January, followed by the 30,000HA bushfire in the headwaters which was followed by over 300mm of rain in just a couple of weeks saw a lot of sludge push through the Ovens River. This seems to have detrimental effects on the trout fishing.
But do not despair, a similar thing happened in the Buckland River back in 2003, and the trout bounced back. Trout are a very resilient fish and have an uncanny ability to bounce back from nowhere. I am sure the upper Ovens River will be a great fishery again in the not too distant future as trout recruit out of other feeder streams, such as the Buckland River and rebuild the population pretty quickly.
Now to August, and what can we expect? This is usually the quietest time of year as anticipation starts to increase ahead of the new trout season that opens on the first Saturday in September. Lake William Hovell is usually the stand-out fishery in the Ovens and King River catchments during August where trout are readily available, and the odd redfin can still be caught.
Try trolling winged lures such as Tassie Devils or casting blades such as TT switchblades or Damiki Vault42 blades. Small minnows work well also, but the greatest key to success when targeting trout in Lake William Hovell is to be there at the right times of the day, and this is the low light periods of dusk and dawn. Dawn at Lake William Hovell is my favourite, but can see temperatures around the -5C. It's quite a surreal feeling paddling my kayak around the edges of the lake, dragging a lure behind me while there is frost sitting on the gum leaves of the tall trees! When conditions are like this it is usually dead calm and very quiet and you could hear a pin drop from the opposite side of the lake.
If you're targeting redfin, try bait fishing down deep, in 10m+ of water where the water temperature may be a little warmer. Worms and small yabbies are both great baits up there, and while using scrub worms you may even hook a trout as a by-catch. Sadly there are some massive carp in Lake William Hovell now, most likely as a result of people illegally using them as bait for redfin. This is the very reason they are illegal as bait, to stop them from spreading like this.
Away from Lake William Hovell the family friendly waterways will be stocked and ready to go. They will be stocked early July and should still fish very well throughout August. Fosters Dam at Glenrowan, Lake Sambell at Beechworth and Stanley Dam in Stanley are the three main dams to head to in August targeting these yearling rainbow trout.
I prefer to use a really small soft plastic with a as small a jig head as possible to allow me to fish it super slow. For example, I like to use the 1" Strike Tiger nymph, rigged with a 1/20oz TT jighead with a size 1H or 2H hook. You do not need to be too fussy, just look for the smallest possible jig head and smallest hook you can find.
Good luck in August, and remember, the trout season does not open until Saturday September 7, not September 1. Many people get this confused each year, but it is the first Saturday in September, not the first day.Reads: 1608