Ballarat’s shining jewel
  |  First Published: April 2014

It’s been called the jewel in Ballarat’s crown and it certainly is to the anglers in the region and surrounding district. Lake Wendouree is a great fishery to anglers and a very versatile waterway for all watersports.

Due to the lake being a Mecca for watersports in Ballarat our City Council has gone to great efforts investing large sums of money and time to make sure our lake has plenty of water to host some prestigious events. Anglers gain the rewards from all the events held on the lake while some of the other waters in and around the district are drying up.

Lake Wendouree is still the focus of the district, and I expect the angler numbers will increase as we move into the autumn months, normally a very good fishing period for Lake Wendouree.

The water temperatures have cooled down with the nights and average day temps dropping. The trout will once again start to be very active not just throughout the evenings but also during the overcast days. Mudeyes will be the best baits to use for the bait anglers, and trolling shallow diving lures trolled along the main weed beds should produce some excellent sized trout and redfin and for fly fishers.

The second chance for the fishing season is that we maybe seeing our once prized mayfly hatches that the lake was renowned for pre-drought, I wait in anticipation.

Lake Wendouree over the last month has seen excellent catches of brown trout caught on either couta or spider mudeye fished under bubble floats from either boats or the shore and jetties.

Gordon Thompson, an excellent mudeye fishermen, has been catching some lovely brown trout up to 4lb. His best haul was four browns in one trip. Gordon was on the water at first light but didn’t get his first fish until 11am and the other three up until 1pm on a slightly over cast day. It might be just a matter of putting the time in and you will be rewarded.

I spent a couple of hours fishing the lake from one of the jetties on the lake early in the morning catching and releasing a small brown trout of 1.5lb on mudeye under a bubble float and missed a couple of others. The pleasing thing to my capture was the trout that were released in the spring have grown very well and we have a very good population of trout in our lake ranging in size from 500g up to 3kg. The signs look all positive for lake Wendouree.

In Newlyn Reservoir, the redfin are on the chew. Anglers have been catching these tasty table fish on a variety of methods on bait using good old garden worms, yabbies and mudeyes. They have been fished on running sinker rigs or suspended under bubble floats. Soft plastics cast off the main wall have also resulted in excellent catches for the trout angler. As we move into the autumn months, we once again await for the midday mayfly hatches; brown nymphs, Emergers and Dunn patterns are on the menu for the best results and the main ingredients are overcast days.

Hepburn Lagoon is going to be very hard water to fish with low water levels and lots of weed. It’s continuing to fall due to irrigation with only small pockets of water available to be fished. Hepburn holds a very healthy population of trout with some trophies lurking around. The mayfly hatches could bring them to the surface chasing the Dunns during midday. I am excited at what this water could produce.

Moorabool Reservoir the action has been thick and fast according to Shane Jeffrey. He has been out there casting soft plastics catching bags of school redfin. Shane mentioned there are lots of small ones in the water but you can catch some excellent sized ones as well.

Moorabool is not just a redfin fishery, the lake has a very healthy population of trout and mayfly hatches. The same rules apply as the other waters in the district, overcast weather is the best and nymphs, Emergers and Dunns work the best. Moorabool has flown under the radar for quite a few years so it’s about time the water showed its true potential.

Lake Fyan’s trout and redfin have really started to fire up, with the cooler conditions really suiting the trout. Craig Hon and his son Daniel recently spent the weekend up at the lake fishing mudeyes under bubble floats out of the boat catching some lovely brown trout to 3lb and redfin around the 1lb mark. The secret is just keep moving around the trees until you come onto the right spot, and it can be game on in the coming months. I will certainly be giving the lake a few visits as it is a great time of the year to fish as it holds a very healthy population of trout and redfin and the water level is very good.

Brian Hughes, an excellent fisherman from Maryborough, has heard on the angling grapevine that there have been some excellent golden perch catches at Cairn Curran Reservoir. There have also been catches of Murray cod up 20lb trolling StumpJumpers and spinnerbaits, mainly in the open water of the lake near the main dam wall.

Cairn Curran also has plenty of school redfin on bait with the odd larger one thrown into the mix as well.

However, the thing that excites me the most is that Brian mentioned the water clarity has improved to about 1m since the reservoir filled. After the drought, the clarity has only been around 6” and our once excellent trout fishery was gone but now the water is clearing and the fisheries have continued to stock the water with trout. We may again see the reservoir become an excellent trout fishery around the shorelines. I will certainly be visiting during the winter months looking for the trout chasing smelt around the shores.

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