A once great trout fishery in decline
  |  First Published: April 2015

The high Victorian country is possibly the nicest part of the state during April, and the Kiewa and Mitta Mitta regions have it all. From high plains with stunted snow gums to lush cattle country and dairy farms, everywhere you look is superb.

I would love to tell you that the fishing is also superb each year in April, but I just can’t. It used to be, once upon a time when the Victorian high country rivers were regularly stocked with small ‘top up’ stockings of trout, and trout were abundant.

These days, in the rivers and creeks the trout are left to fend for themselves and sadly they are not faring too well against things such as global warming, increased fishing pressure and lower water tables.

All that doom and gloom aside and there is some good news on the trout front. In the far North East corner of the state there still is some great trout fishing to be had if you are prepared to think outside the square a little bit.

Gone are the days when you could just pull up on the Mitta Mitta River at Eskdale, or the Kiewa River at Dederang and walk upstream catching numerous amounts of wild brown trout. Sadly those days are gone as Murray cod stocking increases from year to year and trout stocking in flowing waterways has pretty much ceased all together. Great for people who love fishing for native fish, but very, very sad for those of us that love to walk up a mountain river or creek casting a fly rod or spinning for trout.

These days, the successful trout fishers knows to head high into the hills. Areas that were previously described as headwaters are now our trout fisheries, and sections above the headwaters, which are usually just trickles are the new headwaters. Eventually, the tree huggers will get their own way and Victorian trout fishing will be no longer.

The far upper reaches of the Snowy Creek are always worth fishing, as well as the Lightning Creek. The mountainous section of the West Kiewa River is always worth a look and is one of the remaining half decent trout fisheries in the area. The East Branch of the Kiewa River is very heavily regulated and not recommended as a fishery in case the electricity companies decide to generate electricity, which involves releasing copious amounts of water, which could make wading treacherous.

Rocky Valley Creek, which runs into the East Kiewa River just upstream of Lake Guy at Bogong village is a decent river worth fishing, but can be quite awkward to wade.

The Kiewa River downstream of Mt Beauty is nowhere near the trout fishery that it was even just a few years ago. Trout numbers have declined significantly, possibly due to the fact that there are so many fishless trout streams in the region these days that many anglers are driven to fish the few rivers that still have a few trout in them, one of which is the Kiewa River. The Kiewa River has seen patchy fishing for a few years now. I remember last year in April I had a few fishless trips, and then one day in May, whilst fishing with my wife we had an absolute cracker of a day. Out of the woodwork, trout just rocked up everywhere. It didn’t seem to matter where in the river I cast my line, I just caught trout.

April can be very much like that for all species of fish and trout are no different, as they move upstream and pair up in preparation for the upcoming spawning season. The water will be very cold in all of the trout streams during April, especially the second half of the month.

Rainfall will be a huge player in how the fishing pans out during April. Decent autumn rainfall this year is going to be crucial to the trout migration and spawning. Last month the streams were all very low, so hopefully we get some rain.

So, April is worth fishing for trout, but you must be prepared to look around to find the trout as they are not as widespread as they use to be and you must also be prepared to expect the unexpected as you could catch heaps of trout or you could catch none.

There’s not a lot to report on the native fish front for April. Allans Flat Waterhole is stocked regularly with golden perch (yellowbelly). The lower reaches of both the Mitta Mitta River and the Kiewa River are also stocked regularly, but with Murray cod. All of these places offer great fishing at times.

During April both the golden perch and the Murray cod can be very hit and miss in all of those areas. With both species try and make sure you fish after lengthy periods of warm weather, or at times of a high barometer, making sure you focus on fishing during the low light periods of the day. As stated, in this sub-alpine area the native fish tend to slow down with the cold water and can become very hit and miss.

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