Toolondo set to bounce back
  |  First Published: March 2015

As previously reported the iconic Lake Toolondo was on the ropes and staring down the barrel of disaster with receding water levels set to threaten a potentially world class trout fishery.

After a massive campaign of lobbying and public outcry the newly elected Labor Government lead by Premier Daniel Andrews not only pledged support for the lake by forming a consultation committee involving fisheries, water and agriculture ministers, but also brokered a deal to see a life saving 5000mL of water released into the lake. Pre election the lake faced certain disaster and there was no solution in sight. On January 16 Premier Andrews announced the deal on radio 3AW’s fishing program, hosted by David Kramer, who had been a staunch supporter and campaigner to save Lake Toolondo. The following day Premier Daniel Andrews, Water Minister Lisa Neville, Fisheries Minister Jaala Pulford, and Labor’s Travis Dowling travelled to Lake Toolondo to open the gates and release water into the lake following a brief ceremony. To the delight of locals and the fishing fraternity a lifeline has been given and our heartfelt thanks goes out to all involved for their wonderful support and actions.


After some very encouraging signs and some impressive catches I'm pleased to see signs of improvement and this beautiful lake returning to its former glory. Many reports and stories filter through and Fyans is now becoming the great trout fishery that it once was. Trolling Tassie Devils has been the best method, and colour has been critical, with gold and frog pattern colours the standout. Boat speed is critical when trolling, with a trolling speed too fast or too slow compromising lure action and fish catching capabilities.

Hardbody lures will also catch a fish or two with Ecogears, Daiwa Double Clutches, and Rapalas doing the job. Some fish have exceeded the 3kg mark but the average is around 1.8 to 2.4kg. Fellow VFM columnist Shane Stevens from Ballarat has been amongst the action with his family and friends landing plenty of brown and rainbow trout. Redfin are also a great by-catch with many anglers targeting this ever reliable, great tasting, fish. With a recently announced inflow of 4000mL in Lake Fyans from nearby Lake Bellfield we can look forward to a secure future for this impressive fishery.


While the inflows occur I'm expecting the abundance of nutrients and feed into the lake to make the angling to make the lake a little quiet for a while, but the ever reliable mudeye fished under a bubble float will always produce a nice fish. As water floods new ground trout should forage the shallows, inturn providing fly anglers with the opportunity to sight cast to some trophy sized fish. Early morning and late afternoon are the peak times to target these feeding trout in the shallows, and a stealth approach as always is required to minimise the spooking of fish.

Soft plastics such as Nories Spoon Tail Shads, Fish Arrow J Huddles and J Shads, or the Squidgy range have worked well but my tip is to match-the-hatch to gudgeons and minnows when it comes to choosing the colour. Dizzy Scent in all four flavours will make your plastics more enticing, especially on fish that are wary or hesitant to eat a lure. Not only does it kill off the manufacture smell but it also helps mask the human scent on the lure that trout can often detect. Trolling is not possible currently due to weed growth but with the water level beginning to rise will soon return as a viable option.


Once again redfin are the mainstay of this reservoir and many anglers have enjoyed success, catching plenty of fish on Stumpjumpers and other deep diving lures. Tree lines and steeper banks have been the go-to areas but be prepared to lose a lure or two as the price to pay for getting your lure in the required strike zone. Trout are always an option here and shallow running hardbodies and Tassie Devils work well early morning and late afternoon. Carp continue to entertain light tackle anglers, and pound for pound are a great fighter.

Some smaller bass have been landed in certain areas, but mainly by anglers specifically targeting them. Bait anglers chasing a feed of redfin have done it a bit tough so far this year for some unknown reason, but locals in the know have had reasonable returns on yabbies, gudgeons, minnows, and worms. Sounding up a school is the best option and lightly berleying with attractor pellets should hold the school in your area.


Taylors has produced excellent fishing for bank anglers this season with a good number of silvers and small cod being landed. The yellowbelly have been light on in numbers but the next weeks should see things start to improve. Yabbies and worms fished near structure should produce, but be prepared to sift through a few carp to catch your yellowbelly. With the controlled inflow of water into the lake now finished water clarity will begin to improve as we move into autumn. The effectiveness of trolling should follow a similar upswing in the coming months, and is a gun approach for anglers looking to catch a feed.

The water level at Green Lake is slowly dropping, and combined with the increase in algae is making for challenging fishing. Prior to this plenty of smaller redfin and some big carp were caught, regretfully though if we don’t see any significant inflow and rise in water level the best days of this lake may be behind it. Hopefully a lifeline is afforded and skiers and anglers can continue to enjoy the lake.


With the spotlight being in nearby Lake Fyans angling pressure has eased a little on Lake Wartook, and with good result with some solid trout and outstanding redfin being caught. As with most Wimmera lakes early morning and late afternoon are the prime times, but don't rule out striking a patch of fish during the day too. High water levels and an effective stocking program will continue to see Lake Wartook produce the trophy fish that it is well known for.

While the calibre of its fish may not be on par with Wartook’s neighbouring lakes, the fish on offer are stocky, well proportioned fish that are a testament to the lake’s fast growth rates and plentiful food on offer. Some wonderful redfin have been caught on trolled deep diving lures, and while no one location seems to standout, the presence of structure seems to be crucial for success. Trophy sized redfin will come out to play as we head into autumn.


Many anglers have enjoyed the resurgence of the Wimmera River and through great management and stocking by DEPI the river is beginning to return to its former glory. Yellowbelly have been plentiful in many sections of the river, particularly between Horsham and Jeparit, with yabbies and worms the standout choices for bait anglers, while spinnerbaits and hardbodies are dominating for lure anglers.

Noisy, rattle type lures work very well in discoloured water, and targeting the steeper banks, edges and snags where fish take refuge should produce fish when the barometer is right. Be prepared to persist when targeting snags as natives will often hold motionless and tight to cover until you annoy them enough to provoke a strike. Carp continue to entertain the youngsters and the odd redfin has been landed too.


With significant improvements in water management and greater emphasis and development in fish stocking within the Wimmera area the future for anglers of region is one buoyed by positivity. A generous and well structured stocking program directed at a multitude of waterways, both big and small, is an encouraging example of our fishing licence fees at work. With over 200,000 fish destined to be stocked in the area’s waterways the fishing future looks bright for anglers.

Stocking Statistics

Area Brown troutRainbow troutGolden perchMurray codSilver perch
Lake Fyans60006000
Lake Toolondo20,000 10,000
Rocklands2,500 2,500
Taylors Lake30,000 20,000 20,000
Green Lake10,000
Lake Wartook5,000 5,000
Wimmera River60,00010,000
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