No gain with no rain
  |  First Published: May 2014

Thanks to a series of thunderstorms followed by a sou’westerly blow, welcomed rainfall was finally felt in mid March in the South West. This is the first serious rain event for the year and hopefully not the last, so bring it on! The scientific boffins are hinting at another El Nino event on the horizon and if that turns out to be the case we can expect lower than average rainfall, which could spell disaster next season!

Currently, besides our crater lakes of Purrumbete and Bullen Merri, all other sweet water lakes and rivers have been in dire straits. Extremely low levels, poor quality and overly warm water with low levels of dissolved oxygen has spelled near disaster for our stocked salmonoids. At the very least they have been very hard to locate let alone catch of late.

Nevertheless, they say that with every great loss there is some small gain that has come in the form of redfin. Low levels and warm water is like water off a duck’s back to reddies. When the trout refuse to play the game at least the distinct possibility of bringing home a feed of redfin is nearly always on the cards.

Two hot spots for redfin have been Lake Gillear near Allansford, which has seen some outstanding captures of late with many specimens exceeding 1kg. The successful methods have been casting a variety of lures, including small spinners that the redfin seem to adore. Fishing baits such as mud-eye suspended under a float has also worked. Brown trout are released here on a yearly basis and the fish average around 1kg.

Further west, just north of Port Fairy, lies Lake Aringa; a smallish yet picturesque lake that once was a working reservoir supplying the local community with drinking water. Averaging around 4m in depth this lake is stocked annually with trout but it’s the redfin population that keeps anglers occupied on a year round basis. Deep diving minnow lures trolled or cast has been successful, plus the fact that one might pick up a trout into the bargain.

At Lake Elingamite the water levels are presently too low to safely launch any water-borne craft including kayaks. The mud here is deep and is akin to quicksand. One slip trying to launch a canoe or kayak could spell disaster.

Lake Tooliorook is very low; the water quality is poor and choked with weed. Unfortunately besides the odd skinny rainbow trout there is not much else on offer. Tooliorook, as well as nearby Deep Lake, require plenty of that wet stuff that falls from the sky to bring the fishing back to its norm.

The chinook salmon releases from last year into lakes Purrumbete, Bullen Merri and Elingamite are all doing well. If anglers remember to leave some swimming, they can really stack on the pounds that would be beneficial to all sometime down the track. No brown trout have been stocked at Lake Purrumbete for the last two seasons so as to lessen the predation on the then newly released chinooks.

In saying that, quite a few to 2.5kg are still being caught by either trolling lures or mudeyes behind a paravane. Suspending mudeye under a float first thing in the morning up close to the weed beds is also working.

Plenty of redfin are also about and schools can be easily located by just watching the depth sounder. Many reddies are small but quite a few to 600g have been boated.

The cooler weather is now upon us and if it is accompanied by plenty of rainfall the freshwater fishing scene should quickly improve.

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