I first heard of Lake Toolondo only a couple of months ago when ‘The Ashes’, an annual competition between anglers from South Australia and Victoria, was relocated there due to poor fishing conditions at Lake Fyans.
As a result of that successful competition the lake was nominated as the venue for the second round of the Victorian Fly Fishing Championships held in mid-May.
Lake Toolondo is a substantial body of water in the Wimmera region of western Victoria, between Hamilton and Horsham, about four hours drive from Melbourne. It is supplied by water from Rocklands Reservoir but has no natural spawning areas. In the past it has been renowned for growing very large trout, but has suffered from years of drought. With the return of decent water levels and a new stocking program the fishing is recovering quickly.
The lake is almost circular but at lower levels three distinct regions become evident, with bodies of water in northern southern and western sectors. At the time of the competition it was possible to distinguish these areas and to move between them through 60cm-1m of water. Lake Toolondo is heavily timbered, so in addition to watching the depth when moving between areas of the lake by boat it’s essential to carefully navigate through sunken trees.
Reportedly successful methods included fishing large flies fast and small flies slowly, on lines ranging from intermediate to DI7 sink rates, in all three areas of the lake. Thus the available information didn’t help to develop a specific plan.
As it happened, the prevailing conditions during the Victorian Championships were different to what anglers experienced during ‘The Ashes’.
Less wind and bright sun generally made for difficult fishing. It was a pleasure to fish with John Kruska, Steve Varga, Andy Scott and Mick McKay as my boat partners. Our aim was always to find fish and to keep the boat in touch with them although it was harder doing this during the morning sessions than in the afternoons due to long periods with little or no wind. I didn’t fish the western section of the lake but found both the northern and southern sections to be productive.
I used an intermediate line most of the time and tried a lot of variations of fly size and colour before settling on fishing olive and black Woolly Buggers around the timber. This tactic accounted for all but two of the ten fish I landed during the competition.
Despite tricky conditions plenty of excellent fish up to 59cm were caught, making for a very good competition.
Many thanks must go to Brian Hughes and the Victorian chapter of Fly Fish Australia for a great effort in organising and ensuring the smooth running of the event.
Final results were- 1st Tim Strong 2nd Craig Coltman 3rd Luke BarbyReads: 1781