Boom or bust at Ballarat
  |  First Published: March 2014

There’s an old saying ‘going from chocolates to boiled lollies’, which has certainly been the case for the anglers in and around the Ballarat district. Talk about boom and bust!

In a couple of our waters not too long ago, a bit over 12 months, I remember anglers of all ages lining the shores of Lake Learmonth catching magnificent rainbow trout around the 3lb size. Now the lake is closed, trout are washing up on the shores dead and the lake has a depth of 50cm. How things have changed! The lake suffers from a poor catchment and a relatively dry last couple of winters have resulted in the lake disappearing off the fishing radar.

Lake Burrumbeet, not too far away, is currently closed to all water activities due to an outbreak of blue-green algae. This could disappear at any stage but as we are experiencing some of the hottest weather I can remember for a long time and, with the shallowness of the lake, I think it will be a long time before the lake is open to water sports. It was only last month that I reported on some excellent catches of redfin.

It’s not all doom and gloom around Ballarat, the fishing activities have certainly slowed down with the heat wave we have had over the last month but those anglers fishing in the evenings and early mornings are still catching a few quality trout.

Lake Wendouree is still the pick of our local waters with the bait and fly anglers certainly reaping the rewards for fishing at the right time. Mudeyes fished under bubble floats from the shore or the newly constructed jetties around the lake or out in boats have resulted in catches of brown trout to 3kg. Likewise, the fly fishers fishing mudeye patterns after dark and into the night have also landed some cracking brown trout to 3kg.

Anglers over the coming months should see the arrival of black crickets to the lake’s shore, which the trout love to eat. This can be very exciting fishing but be prepared to fish well into the night. Bait anglers need to use bubble floats with a greased leader of approximately 3ft to the hook and then put the cricket on. Just let him drift around, as the trout cannot resist this tasty meal.

For the fly addicts, casting and retrieving Muddler minnow fly patterns very slowing in and around the shorelines should results in some excellent catches. There’s nothing better than to catch feeding trout on surface flies; you can hear the trout slurp the fly down and it’s game on.

Newlyn Reservoir and Hepburn lagoon reports have been very slow coming in. Both waters are holding excellent populations of trout and redfin but during the summer they are used for irrigation and can be difficult to fish, especially Hepburn. These waters are certainly worth fishing in the early mornings and evenings for all forms of angling, just be prepared to put in the yards and you will be rewarded.

Lake Fyans, one of my favourite waters, has been fishing well. I recently spent a few days catching some lovely brown and rainbow trout on mudeyes fished under bubble floats. Once again the early mornings and evenings is certainly the go.

The redfin catches have been a bit patchy over the last few months but if you can get onto a school of reddies use worms, yabbies, soft plastics, local minnows or lures. You will catch plenty and some very good sized ones up to 3lb.

Cosgroves Reservoir has been a bit quiet recently but I expect the redfin will fire up very soon. Casting lures or soft plastics from the shoreline in the early mornings or evenings will once again provide the anglers with the best chance to catch these excellent sport and table fish.

Tullaroop Reservoir is a very good redfin fishery, especially now we have some very warm weather; the reddies seem to like the warmer temps. Anglers using worms and yabbies on running sinker rigs on the deeper banks will gain the best results. I have found having the bait in the water about 1-2 hours before daylight and hour after the sun comes up are the best times at Tullaroop.


Trev Crawford flyfishing at Lake Wendouree caught this great 3kg brown trout. The best time to fish the lake has been after dark. Photo courtesy of Trev Crawford.


Lake Wendouree is still the pick of the local waters whether using fly or a mudeye, like Zach Stevens did with this 4.5lb brown. Photo courtesy of Shane Stevens.


Shane Jeffrey used a mudeye under a bubble float for this brown trout. Photo courtesy of Shane Jeffrey.

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