As autumn grew colder the fishing really changed in the Ovens and King river catchments. The Murray cod, which had been biting like crazy all season, slowed right down to a trickle and the trout that had been so hard to find all season started showing up in dribs and drabs. These trout were mainly quite small, but were an encouraging sign of what might be around the corner for next season.
Now what can we expect for July in this wonderful corner of the state?
July is traditionally the hardest month to write a fishing report for as the trout season is closed, and the water in the Ovens and King rivers is icy cold, and possibly high and off colour. Nevertheless, there are a few options still available, with the standout winter fishery in this catchment being Lake William Hovell.
This lake is like a miniature version of Lake Dartmouth. It has crystal clear, icy cold water during winter and a decent population of small trout that respond very well to trolled small lures such as minnows and Tassie Devils.
I do quite a bit of kayak fishing up there and one of my favourite techniques is to cast small blades such as the 7g TT switchblades.
The best time of day to target trout in Lake William Hovel is during the low light periods of sunrise and sunset; sunrise is the most productive for some unknown reason. It can be bitterly cold up there before sunrise, paddling across the lake in a kayak, but the rewards are there for those anglers willing to put in the hard yards.
As mentioned, trolling winged lures is a dynamite technique to pick up trout, so is casting blades, but I cannot forget to mention angling with scrub worms. If we get some decent rainfall and the rivers are high, just dangling a lightly weighted bunch of scrub worms in the submerged King River channel of the lake can be a very productive way of catching trout in this lake. And, unlike lure fishing, bait fishing is not restricted to the low light periods of the day. You can angle with scrub worms all day and catch trout in the King River arm.
If you cannot get hold of any scrub worms, don’t stress as regular garden worms, or tiger worms and night crawlers can be very effective as well. I like the thick scrub worms as they occur naturally up there, however I have had some great success with other species of worms as well.
A few days before the winter school holidays, the family-friendly waterways will be stocked with trout ready for the kids to head out.
Lake Anderson in Chiltern, Stanley Dam in Stanley and Lake Sambell in Beechworth will all receive a fresh top up of yearling rainbow trout, ready to catch! These trout usually range from 25-35cm in size and are not always as easy to catch as you may think. I find tiny soft plastics fished very slowly work very well on these hand fed fish.
The Ovens and King rivers around Wangaratta will be super slow in July. If we do not get too much rain, you may wish to head down of an evening and drown a few worms in the hope of catching a carp. I have caught fish in the Ovens River in July, but not very often and it is usually nothing to get excited over.
Small redfin are common in Lake William Hovell, although during winter they are harder to catch. If you persevere you may get onto a winter redfin, and if you are really lucky you may even get a few big ones.
Some days you could hear a pin drop across the whole lake at Lake WIlliam Hovell as it becomes very quiet and tranquil. On these days, the evening is definitely the best time of the day to fish as the trout move down into deeper water in dead calm conditions.
Small trout such as this one, taken on a Metalhead soft plastic started turning up more frequently towards the end of the season. Hopefully a positive sign of an improvement for next season.
This late season brown trout taken in a tributary of the Ovens River just before the season closed was very underweight. Hopefully late autumn rains will help this, and many others gain condition and distribute throughout the Ovens River catchment in time for next season.Reads: 551