Throughout the Wimmera we are bracing ourselves for what potentially could spell the demise of some of the premier lakes in the area. Toolondo for instance currently sits at around 19% and is dropping fast as the onset of summer hits. My fears of looming fish kills may be just around the corner and the iconic lake could turn belly up in no time if the algal blooms of last year return.
Other lakes are also starting to drop but some are topped up by water authorities.
With the election only days away (at time of writing), I'm hoping for some change and sensibility to prevail. With water constantly wasted throughout the winter on environmental flows and pushed to wherever the tourist dollar or events are held I think it's time some sensibility is restored and sharing of water becomes a priority.
Hopefully this election someone gets in who can see the values of recreational angling in the district and act on the wants and needs of those who vote and act on our behalf not be told by a party what they can and can't do!
As mentioned, Toolondo has receding water levels and this has been reflected in catch rates. Water surface temps are dangerously high already for trout and the fish have become lethargic and spasmodic in their feeding patterns.
Mudeye anglers still produce the goods most days but even they have bad ones too! Fly fishers have found it tough going with the growth of weed to the surface restricting workable areas. Trolling has become impossible now but a few fish are being taken on shallow running lures or soft plastics. Launching has become difficult and access between the 2 main fishable areas is all but gone.
While the trout go into their summer mode early morning/late afternoon feeding, some fish are still being taken trolling Tassie Devils and shallow running hardbodies in these time slots. Surface action seems to run hand in hand with hatches and matching the hatch is important here.
A good by catch of redfin is also available here with fish up around the 1.5kg mark, as well as plenty of smaller fish. StumpJumpers are once again the pick of lures. With considerable stocking and good water levels there is plenty of potential at Wartook.
I've been tipping the redfin to fire at Rockland and they haven't let me down! Some great bags of fish are coming out now and trolling the tree lines and steeper banks is the best method. Most fish have been taken in 4-5m of water using StumpJumpers #3 with the deep diving bibs. Fluoro green has been the winner as well as the orange/black one similar to the Pegron Tiger Minnow colours.
Stocking of trout has continued here and it has received a good number this year that were allocated for other lakes that have become too low. Juvenile rainbows are freely hitting anything dragged at surface level but as yet they are too small. Carp are not as prevalent as previous years, which is great.
Recently had a picture forwarded to me of a 5kg Murray cod caught and released from this lake. On top of that I lost a huge bass recently almost at the net that would have been close to 60cm.
Fyans continues to improve daily and with a water level of around 80% we can look forward to some fantastic catches over the summer. It really is a terrific trout and redfin lake with all the right ingredients there.
Rainbows dominate catches and some respectable fish to 2kg have been landed of late. Green Powerbait under a float, mudeye and gudgeon have accounted for most but they also are willing to hit trolled lures. Yellow winged Tassie Devils are a favourite this time of year and the traffic light Tassie as well. Redfin are best targeted early and late in the day the same as the trout, but those patient enough to fish mudeye will prevail during the day.
With increased numbers of Chinook salmon being landed, it's starting to come of age as a great fishing lake. More anglers are becoming aware of its potential and, with good numbers of trout and redfin too, I can see Bellfield becoming a Wimmera hot spot!
Trolling the fringes early and late in the day once again is the best chance for a good fish. Anglers that persist and sound up schools during the brighter hours are doing well by dropping jigs or soft plastics through the masses and hooking up. Even though there are a lot of smaller redfin here, they are well worth sorting through as it also holds great eating size too. Keep in mind that it is an electric only lake.
After a brief trip there just recently and experiencing a few good reddies and a few smaller ones I was impressed! With many ski boats on the lake trolling is difficult at times but my tip is get there early in the day before they get out and about.
Shallow running lures, such as Strike Pro Flatz Minnow, Diawa Presso Minnows and StumpJumper Finesse, are the best options but we also ran Stumpies with the shallow bibs too. Hogbacks with a weighted keel in front of them will also get you in the zone. Carp prevail in here and provide great sport on light gear for bank anglers.
With many bank-anglers fishing the fringes here, some good catches have been reported. Sorting through the carp is the problem but those persisting with worms, yabbies and gudgeon have managed a few smaller cod. All returned until the season opens very soon as well as some silver perch and yellas.
Not a lot of fish are taken here trolling but I'm going to give it a shot soon when water flows slow down. Currently being used as a transfer basin for further north it is very turbid. On settling some clarity should be restored and the possibility of a trolled fish is on, especially around tree lines and up towards the wall area.
With cod season well underway there is some good Wimmera options for those willing to persist and experiment! Out to our west close to the border are 2 very good prospects in Lake Charegrak and Lake Bringalbert. Both these lakes hold good numbers of natives and redfin. Do observe the change in cod size regulations and be cautious of tagged fish. Charegrak has many tagged fish in it and it's recommended these are not for consumption.
Bank anglers with yabbies and worms are regularly snaring fish here but mainly undersized so return as soon as possible.
If you snare a great catch within the Wimmera I'd love to hear about it and see a photo, who knows you may even get a pic in my column! Email them through to me: --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 1616