Full lakes and trophy trout
  |  First Published: October 2014

Right now is the prime time to get out on our crater lakes and experience nothing short of a trout bonanza.

The winter winds and rains have left us and springtime weather dominates the landscape. The legacy left by the heavy winter rains is full lakes and flowing streams.

Bullen Merri

Currently, Lake Bullen Merri would have to be the star attraction with plenty of salmonoids on offer. There are plenty of rainbows to 2kg and Chinook salmon to 1.5kg about with flat line trolling Lofty’s Cobra-styled lures in pink and white working a treat. Trolling in depths from 4-6m out from the shore at first light or dusk has been the prime technique.

An age old method of catching ‘chooks’ still practiced by many locals as well as a few keyed in visitors is bottom bouncing smelly baits such as chunks of pilchard, whitebait, glassies and live local gudgeon in depths around 10m. Using a berley made up of hand rolled balls of tinned seafood for cats and dropped over the side at intervals of 20 minutes certainly helps bring the fish into your strike zone. It’s a messy business (I recommend the use of rubber gloves) but it works not only here but also over at Lake Purrumbete. The bonus being that this method also attracts the odd trout, especially browns.


Lake Purrumbete is holding rainbow trout to a similar size as Bullen Merri as well as browns to over 3kg. The fish are not plentiful and more stealth is required here due to the water clarity. However, there is more of a tendency here to cast lures and soft plastics towards the weed growth and any rocky outcrops that line the shore rather than troll.

The water clarity here is such that an angler can see to several metres depth, as can the fish, so stealth is more of a priority here than Bullen Merri.

The massive Redfin population that exists here can prove to be a nuisance, especially as the vast majority of fish are small. In saying that, I have seen some absolute thumpers come out of this lake, but alas, have yet to land one myself.


Lake Elingamite near Cobden (the smallest of the three crater lakes) is fishing well and all but the largest of water craft can now launch here thanks to all the winter rain that fell in our catchment. Most craft can access the lake by simply placing the outboard motor in shallow drive from the ramp out to a depth of 2.5 metres where the weed beds no longer pose a problem to propellers.

The Chinook salmon released here a year ago are unfortunately still a bit on the small side and are still considered only a largish pan-sized option. Still, they fight hard and the remaining fish are still growing.

Plenty of last year’s release of browns are actively taking anglers’ baits and lures with most fish weighing in around 2lbs. There are still some 2 year old fish about as I recently caught a solid rainbow at 2.1 kilos and 62cm on a Black Magic B Max minnow lure trolled in 3.5m.

Plenty of fish are showing on the sounder in the deeper section of this shallow lake, about 5m, and are mainly made up of redfin and Chinook salmon. These schooling fish are finicky and it can be quite hard to entice a strike at any given time. The bigger trout and redfin are best targeted close to the surrounding weed beds in shallower water with casting the better method to employ.

Trolling certainly works but at these shallow depths more fish tend to be spooked by the approaching boats. Lures such as the B Max that dive between 1.2-1.8m are ideal here as the water clarity is quite reasonable, except directly after a southerly blow, which can stir up the bottom therefore reduce water clarity.

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