Eildon is one of Australia’s most diverse, productive and popular waterways. It is also a massive piece of water that can be very daunting for anglers.
In the 1860s the town of Darlingford was founded (so named after the Governor Sir Charles Darling). It was close to the junction of the Goulburn and Big rivers, and people came from around the globe after gold was discovered. Darlingford had a small school, log gaol (jail), seven pubs, five police officers, shops and a post office. With the construction of Sugarloaf Reservoir, Darlingford itself was flooded and a new town began to grow; now known as Eildon.
The water commission constructed homes for workers but for quite some time many workers were still in tents. At the peak of construction there were over 4,000 people living in the town, a lot more than in 2013.
In 1954, eight shops including a bakery were built and run by locals.
In the surrounding areas there are three fabulous information centres; one in Mansfield, which takes care of the northern areas, one in Eildon right near the shopping village and one in Alexandra at Rotary Park. All of these facilities have plenty of information on things to do and places to see, from winery tours as well as some of the incredible bike tracks that go all around the local shires. There are some fantastic local eateries and produce from the valley for the foodies. There is simply too much to cover, so call in and see the friendly volunteer staff and see what this rich and beautiful area has to offer.
If angling isn’t the main skill or you don't have the gear why not take the kids to a trout farm and try your luck. There are two trout farms located close by: Eildon Trout Farm and Buxton Trout Farm. Buxton has been lovingly restored after the tragic events of Black Saturday, which all but destroyed the place.
If it is boat hire you are interested in Eildon Outboard Services has a BOAB outlet with a couple of boat options available or you can use Lake Eildon Cruises. There are also plenty of houseboats on Eildon, which is a great way to experience this massive lake..
It would be safe to say that the southern end of the lake (Eildon area) has the pick of the boat ramps. The new floating pontoon at the Alliance boat ramp at the dam wall is the best option, although parking can be a problem during peak times and it costs $2 to launch. The other option in this area is the Jerusalem Creek public ramp. This is also a fantastic ramp and has plenty of close by parking, but does not have a pontoon to tie off on.
Down the southern end, in the Fraser National Park, there are several good concrete ramps and parking is also quite good there.
At the northern end of the lake, by far the best option is the ramp on Maintengoon Road (directly opposite the Bonnie Doon pub). At certain times of the year this ramp can be quite shallow so be wary of this with larger craft. There is also a good launching ramp at the Bonnie Doon Caravan Park.
There are many towns that offer services. Yea has a tackle store, fuel stop, a great take away, shops and good pub meals and some motel accommodation. Bonnie Doon also has great food in the main town and at the pub overlooking the lake. It’s not a bad spot for a quiet drink or two! There is also a local service station which has a marine mechanic.
Alexandra has plenty to offer with a couple of service stations, four pubs that have some great meal options, take away food, a tackle store and plenty of accommodation places to boot.
Eildon is a place loaded with accommodation options from the caravan park right on the Pondage to motels over looking the Pondage. The resort on the front road has caravan access and motel rooms all on the same grounds as the pub.
On the Eildon Back Road there is another caravan park with a load of options. Eildon also has a tackle shop in the village with plenty of take away food outlets, a pub, as well as a service station. Eildon has pretty much all you need and don’t forget there is a mechanic on duty at Eildon Outboard Services.
The north west incorporates Bonnie Doon, all of the Delatite Arm, Ford Inlet and goes down as far south as Point Shaw.
When the lake level is in the 85% and above mark, as it currently is, the area from the Bonnie Doon Bridge past the caravan park and heading back towards Merton becomes alive with activity as water covers the expansive grassy flats. This attracts a lot of fish to gorge themselves on worms, beetles, snails and countless amounts of other insects. This spot is easily accessible for land-based anglers. If you are in a boat it's in the 5 knot zone so you hopefully won't have skiers buzzing around.
Bait fishing is always super-productive with worms and mudeyes being the pick of the bunch. Shallow running hardbodied lures such as Cranka minnows, Rapalas, and small StumpJumpers are also very effective on trout as well as golden perch.
In spring if you see a fish tailing in the shallows, don't just assume its a carp. Golden perch and trout both tail around in these waters. Small soft plastics like Squidgies and Berkeley T-Tails also do well in the shallows, especially when finesse-rigged with a 1/16oz to 1/24oz size 2 jighead. Flyfishers will do very well here too.
The golden perch season is firing along nicely from Bonnie Doon all the way to where the Delatite Arm starts. This is a very productive and large area and there are heaps of points which hold good numbers of schooling goldens. My favourite two lures for this style of fishing are TN60 Jackalls and Berkley Black n Gold T-Tails on a heavier 1/8oz jighead.
In these areas you will also pick up plenty of redfin and the occasional Murray cod (remember the closed season from Sept 1 to Nov 30) and don't be scared to throw a small spinnerbait. The same methods apply into the Delatite Arm. Ford Inlet last year produced some big trophy redfin to almost 50cm and a lot of goldens to boot.
Further south down to Point Shaw there are a dozen or so small bays that fish very well. There is also is a very healthy cod population in this area, so remember this for December when cod season opens.
The south west runs south of Point Shaw including Woolshed, Italian Bay, Frasers and Taylor Bay right up to the dam wall.
This area is one of my favourites with an abundance of places and species in good numbers.
The wall at Point Shaw has been a great place for many anglers over the years but fishes better when the lake is at 30-50%. It is also a great place to troll a Tassie Devil around 100m off the wall at dusk. Some massive trout gather here. I caught my personal best trout here, a 3.2kg rainbow. This area fishes well in all the bays, such as Italian Bay, Woolshed and Coller Bay.
Bolte Bay and Taylor Bay are all top redfin hotspots. The redfin are usually found in 12-15m of water, but use your sounder to pin point where they are. Simply jig soft plastics or scrubworms at the base of trees and you should do ok. When searching for reddies place your boat on a point and follow the point out into deeper water. Use your sounder to locate structure and schooling fish. Some of my most productive spot are 50-60m off a point where there is timber coming out of the water.
There are plenty of natives around here, so I always search hard for rocky patches near drop offs. These areas tend to hold warmer water temperatures and attract the fish.
The Pines all the way along to McDonald Island is also very productive, particularly for trout and golden perch. Trolling along this section with lures that dive between 2-4m and Tassie Devils in the dual depth model set to the deep setting is a great option. Once again any of these points and trees can hold schooling redfin so if you find a school keep them active by always making sure there is a lure in the water. This stretch is a go-to spot for cod in season with plenty of lay down timber structure.
The south east covers the area from the dam wall, the main arm to Jerusalem Creek and all the way to the Big River Arm.
This area is the most popular and most heavily fished area on the lake. The dam wall, at certain times, is an awesome place to fish but you must pick your times because it does get hammered on weekends. If you want to specifically target this area, try to organise a mid-week trip to avoid the crowds.
At times, the south east area holds massive schools of golden perch getting ready to spawn and slow fishing methods dominate catch-rates. Slow fished Jackall TN60s or TN50s do very well, as do Berkley T-Tails. On both sides of the arm between the dam wall and Jerusalem Creek, many fish of all species over a very long period of time have succumbed to anglers, especially Murray cod. With so much good structure and habitat, it always seems to consistently hold fish.
Jerusalem Creek is a great spot and many anglers, while trolling, pick up good numbers of trout by flat lining Tassie Devils. Pink does the trick almost all year round and this area also holds quality schools of reddies. I caught a whopping 7kg golden perch here while trolling for trout, so be prepared for something different.
The stretch from Jerusalem Creek to Point Knight is a quality trout trolling run on either side of the channel, just off the tree line. This is also a great redfin spot, especially in 12-15m of water.
Big River is the most fished location of all on the lake. It prospers year after year. Some amazing trout in double figures come out of here every season and quite a few native fish are caught as well. There is plenty of water up there and plenty of places to camp; it's just an all around gem of a spot.
The north east of Eildon covers from Champagne Point, all of Goughs Bay, the Howqua Inlet and the Goulburn Arm.
This neck of the woods is the most under-fished section of the lake. The Big River Arm can often be packed with boats yet this end of the lake will be empty.
The trout fishing in the upper Goulburn area is fantastic and very peaceful to boot. It also holds good numbers of golden perch and cod. There are plenty of redfin here as well. The Howqua is a great location with plenty of trout and reddies. It sees a little more traffic than the Goulburn, but holds up very well all year round. Goughs Bay is one of the best redfin spots of all on the lake. The fish love schooling up in big numbers and are quite easy to find. From Calder Cove to the entrance to the Goulburn Arm is also a good spot for natives and once again doesn't get over fished.
With several stockings by fisheries recently, including 100+ big brood stock, things are looking good for spring in the Pondage. The Pondage fishes best with a consistent water level, but that doesn’t often happen. If it does we should see some consistent catches being taken. Bait fishing is best for these big brood fish; worms and Powerbait are the preferred baits to get into some big fish action in the Pondage.
The Goulburn, Acheron and Rubicon rivers have all had a great winter rest with plenty of rain to freshen them up. Consistency in river flows is important for good fishing so it is hoped flow from the Pondage allows the fish settle. The best bet is to find back-eddies and casting lightly-weighted plastics and very shallow running hardbodied lures where the flow meet the still. Flyfishers will do well to fish the seams with deep nymphs or swinging big Woolly Buggers across the current.
Eildon, the lake, the Pondage and the rivers above and below the lake provide exceptional fishing for a diverse range of fish. At any time of the year Eildon will provide a fishing option. Whether your tastes go to trout on fly or trout on bait, whether you love chasing golden perch and cod, whether you want to fish from a boat or from the shore, or even if you just love catching a feed of redfin, Eildon delivers.
There are few places in Australia where all of this fishing action comes together in one place. Add in an incredible service industry around the fishing, a massive number of non-fishing activities and some of the most spectacular river, lake and mountain areas you will find, and it’s easy to see that the Eildon area must be on your hit list.
Fact Box – with 2 x images
Lake Eildon fish stocking
Fisheries Victoria has a long history of stocking fish into Lake Eildon. The lake does contain a self-sustaining population of trout that breed in the tributaries during winter. Most are brown trout but there are some rainbows.
The lake’s productivity boomed after the recent drought broke and all that water rose over new ground. Trout and redfin benefited hugely, along with native fish such as golden perch and Murray cod, both of which have been stocked in recent decades in large numbers.
Much less so than trout, these two native species depend on stocking to create recreational fisheries. Golden perch don’t successfully breed in most lakes (but do roe up and behave like they’re trying). Several million golden perch fingerlings have been released into the lake since the 1990s. They’ve created one of the state’s best native fisheries, especially in spring.
A small self-sustaining fishery for Murray cod has always existed in the lake, but elevated stockings have taken the fishery to a new level. Everybody’s bracing themselves for exciting things to come as the ‘Murray Cod Million’ projects delivers huge pulses of new ‘greenfish’ into the lake. It’s the largest cod stocking endeavour in the country!
All the one million extra Murray cod (stocked in addition to the 50,000 the lake was receiving annually) into Lake Eildon have been marked internally with a harmless food dye. A detailed fish population will assess the contribution these fish make to the overall cod population in the lake.
In the neighbourhood
Stocking also occurs in the Eildon Pondage with large numbers of ex-broodfish, some as large as 3kg, released through the year. The Goulburn River below the Pondage is also stocked each year, but does contain a wild, self-sustaining population of trout too.
Fish production at Snobs Creek along with fish purchases from other hatcheries is all funded by recreational fishing licence fees and the State Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative. – DEPI
One million extra Murray cod were stocked into Lake Eildon over three years in a bold project funded by Victorian fishing licence fees.
Eildon Pondage is stocked with trout, but the majority of trout in Lake Eildon are wild fish that have been born in its upstream tributaries over winter.
Eildon Big Fish Challenge
|Dates:||Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October|
|Entry:||Adults $25. Junior/Kids $10. Family $60|
Enjoy a weekend of Fishing, food stalls, wine tasting, music, children’s amusements, trade displays and fishing demonstrations. Go to www.eildonbigfishchallenge.com.au for more information.