Top catches before they hit bottom
  |  First Published: December 2014

Although we have experienced the odd day over 30ºC, the full force of summer is yet to bear down on us and as far as freshwater fishing is concerned, this is a bonus. Anglers should be taking full advantage of the seasonal conditions as the trout have yet to head for the depths that Lakes Bullen Merri and Purrumbete offer.

A thermocline layer may well be forming and going on previous seasons this can sit anywhere from 10-20m depth. However, browns and rainbows continue to be caught in the shallows at both lakes with first light through to sun up the prime time.

The extensive weed beds that surround Purrumbete provide not only shelter but a perfect spot for trout to ambush unsuspecting prey. Although not in huge numbers, brown trout to 3kg and rainbows to over 2kg have been landed in recent times. The best method is to cast soft plastics or, better still, shallow diving minnow lures right up against the weed growth, pause then engage in a steady retrieval.

Bullen Merri still has Chinook salmon to 2kg responding to bait such as pilchard chunks bottom bounced in depths approaching 10m. Ground berley sent over the side at regular intervals will improve the catch rate.

Rainbows to over 2kg and some smaller browns are taking Loftys Cobra style lures flat line trolled in 3-5m depth around the lake’s perimeter. Pink-white through to red and even chartreuse colours are working here on a given day. The optimum time is to begin trolling at first light and overcast days should extend the bite period. Again there is evidence of blue-green algae in the lake but at this stage the outbreak is minimal and is shuffled around the lake by prevailing winds.

Lake Elingamite near Cobden also has algae but again this outbreak has not fully bloomed probably thanks to below average temperatures for this time of year along with some welcome rain to dilute the water.

Some excellent redfin to 1.7kg have come out of the lake in recent times. So too have browns and rainbows exceeding 1kg. Smaller trout have been a nuisance of late but these fish are already stacking on weight and can be considered pan size at present. However, as this lake only receives up to 2000 new release fish from both species per annum I urge anglers to carefully release these fish while keeping the larger specimens for a feed. The resident Chinook salmon are edging close to a kilogram in weight and although the numbers caught are not huge, the fighting capabilities of this fish are now finally being felt by anglers.

Many boaters are still happy to baitfish with mudeye suspended under a float the number one option, however the fish in Elingamite readily respond to lures either cast or flat line trolled. The eastern side of the lake has extensive weed beds that often contain gutters and clear patches, which makes it a hot spot in which to cast shallow diving minnow lures for trout and redfin. Trolling a wide variety of lures just out from these beds is also an effective method.

In the deeper section of the lake (5m+) the vertical jigging of lures and plastics is an ideal way to fire up the schooling fish that often congregate at times out here.

So take full advantage of the current conditions because once the heat arrives in full force, this will inevitably drive the fish down deep especially in our Crater Lakes where only downrigging lures will tempt a bite.

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