The rain is here
  |  First Published: August 2014

It’s music to our ears. I can hear rain falling and it has been falling for over a week now. Could this be the winter weather we are hoping to have?

With many of the waterways that we fish very low, this is great news and hopefully Ballarat and surrounds gets a good dumping of rain and it continues for the next few months. The Fisheries Department has done their job and released thousands of brown and rainbow trout around the district and over the state, we just need the lakes and reservoirs full, just to compliment this stocking.

Fishing around the district has been a bit patchy especially that we are down to 8-9°C only the true hardened fishers are out there and yes there are plenty of them, but certainly the numbers are well down when compared to a month ago. But these brave few have been rewarded for their efforts.

Smelt, smelt and more smelt is on the menu during the winter months and will be the main food source for the trout during the winter months. Smelt live in all our lakes and reservoirs and the trout love them.


Moorabool Reservoir, which I have mentioned over the last few months, has been producing the goods. It’s just a matter of being out there walking the expansive shorelines and waiting for a trout to move in around the shallows chasing smelt and it’s game on. There is not much surface insect movement now we are in the depths of winter so the trout really hone in on small baitfish (smelt) or small redfin to feed on. The smelters, as we call them, can be very frustrating to catch or just simply dumb sometimes they move with haste smashing through schools of baitfish and then picking off the injured or maimed ones. Quick, accurate casts are the requirement whether it be with a fly or lure, you just have to be on your game.

Flies or lures that represent these baitfish are the go or just simply something flashy that catches the trout’s eye. Kierl Jones a regular flyfisher of Moorabool has been having success recently just walking the shorelines watching and waiting for a disturbance in the water. Kierl said some days you might not see a fish and the next day along the same shore the fish are crashing through the smelt. His best fish to date is a magnificent brown trout of 7.5lb on a white smelt pattern.

Lake Wendouree

Will Wendouree ever stop producing fish? Hopefully not.

Angler numbers are down but the fish are still being caught flyfishing, casting lures and the good old garden worm seem to be the go. The trout are not really in feeding mode like months ago, they are in breeding mode at this time of the year. Even though they cannot breed in the lake, their natural instincts take hold and they become very aggressive and territorial and travel around in pairs. The anglers need to use searching methods to get the trout to bite like bright coloured flies like Woolly Buggers or lures in bright colours. The ever-reliable pink Tassie Devil comes into its own during the winter months and whether it is cast from the shore or trolled up and down the main rowing channel, it’s a winner. Craig Mitchell a member of the Ballarat Fly Fishers Club doesn’t mind rugging up and getting out on the lake during the winter months and has been catching some cracking brown trout up to 6.5lb on Woolly Buggers. Craig said it’s just a matter of being on the water and rewards will come your way.


Tullaroop Reservoir is a great destination to target trout during our winter months.

Only 45 minutes from Ballarat the weather is always a couple of degrees warmer and the fishing can be awesome. The Reservoir has endless shallow bays, nooks and crannies that the trout lurk in chasing the staple winter diet of smelt. The banks at this time of the year will be a bit muddy while the reservoir waits for the rains to fill up so waders are a must-have item. Casting hard bodied lures and smelt patterns for the fly fisher will reward the angler. You might have to cover a lot of water to find a feeding fish, but they are certainly there and hungry at this time of the year.

Cairn Curran

Cairn Curran Reservoir is a broken record.

I have mentioned it as a magnificent trout fishery during the winter months and early spring for the last few years and nothing has happened. The Fisheries Department release approximately 20,000 brown trout into Cairn Curran every year with little or no result. Many anglers over the past few years have said that the water clarity is terrible and it’s like fishing in mud, but over the last summer it has finally started to clear up to good visibility of about a metre.

I think this winter could be the one where Cairn Curran comes back onto the list of trout waters to target. The Reservoir has expansive shallow bays like Bryans Bay, Picnic Point and Trelors Bay that trout use to cruise in and around. Fly fishing, casting or trolling lures and bait fishing with mudeyes under bubble floats should produce some excellent trout and I would suggest some trophy trout should be lurking around in these waters too.

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