Wangaratta welcomes the warm
  |  First Published: September 2014

After one of the coldest, wettest winters we have experienced for quite a few years, spring is finally at our doorstep and is being welcomed with open arms! Obviously the big news headline is the Victorian trout season, which opens on Saturday 6 September when many people will be out and about before sunrise with anticipation of what will hopefully be a much better trout season than last season.

Towards the end of last season I started seeing a lot of small trout pop up in many of the region’s creeks and rivers, particularly in the headwaters, which was a positive sign of better things to come.

It is still unclear how the Ovens River will fish this season as it is still suffering the effects of a large bushfire and flash flood that wiped out a large amount of the river’s trout a few years back. It is bouncing back, but it's taking a while. Hopefully this season will see an improvement in the Ovens River as a trout fishery.

The King River will most likely fish poorly downstream of Lake William Hovell as this area was decimated by summer heat in recent years. Upstream of Lake William Hovell the trout fishing is much better and well worth a visit, but you will need a 4WD to get up there.

The Buckland, Buffalo and Rose rivers should all tick over okay. I'm not expecting anything too flash out of these, or any waterways this season however I am expecting them to produce more trout than last season.

Lake William Hovell will be worth fishing for trout as the water will still be icy cold, and a few small redfin may start to make an appearance, although they will be slow.

It's a similar story over at Lake Buffalo as the water just begins to warm towards the end of the month. A few redfin may start to move, and the mythical Lake Buffalo yellowbelly might start turning up towards the end of the month. Remember it is very early into the warmer season so things will start moving, but very slowly.

In the lower reaches of the rivers, the Ovens River around Wangaratta will be worth dangling a bunch of worms in to provided we have not had too much rain. It doesn't matter if the river is high, as long as it is not flooded. Obviously Murray cod are off limits as it is the closed season, so avoid using lures and known Murray cod baits, such as bardi grubs, large yabbies and cheese or you may find yourself in hot water if a Fisheries inspector deems you to be targeting Murray cod.

A good old bunch of worms will catch just about anything in the Ovens River, and if you do hook a Murray cod on worms, chances are that it will be too small to be a breeding fish anyway.

Yellowbelly are few and far between in the Ovens River, so in spring you are really only fishing for carp with the slight possibility of catching a yellowbelly. In saying that, last season saw more yellowbelly caught around the Wangaratta area than has been seen in the last 10 years put together.

If you seriously want to target yellowbelly, head over to Lake Nillahcootie in September and fish the shallow margins at the top end of the lake.

Lake Sambell in Beechworth will be worth fishing as it will receive a fresh stocking of yearling rainbow trout just in time for the spring school holidays.

On a personal note

Please excuse my ‘off-topic’ subject this month, but I am in the mood to express my feelings with words. I had just parked my backside on my computer chair to start working on this report when my phone rang. It was my father, telling me the sad news that my Great Aunt Millie had passed away.

Aunty Millie was 87 and lived her entire life in Wangaratta. In fact, she lived her entire life in Park Lane. She was born there in the mid 1920s, then got married in the 1940s and moved about 3 houses down the street to where she spent the rest of her life. She lived for 87 years not more than about 100m from the bank of the Ovens River. Her and her brothers (my Great Uncles) were catching bluenose (trout cod), Murray cod and Macquarie perch in the Ovens River in Wangaratta back in the 1930s and 40s. I have some amazing photos of my predecessors here in Wangaratta with huge hauls of cod, the old fashioned way, strung up along lengths of rope. Many of these fish were caught before my uncles went off to fight in World War II, that's almost 80 years ago (and people these days have a firm belief that I am giving away their ‘secret river’).

R.I.P. my beautiful great auntie, Millie Bowden, a true Aussie battler that joined the army to serve our country in World War II but never ended up going offshore. I can still taste those magnificent homemade lamingtons on my lips that you use to feed me when I wagged school to go fishing behind your house.

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