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Wimmera cools but action heats up
  |  First Published: April 2015



Autumn is now well upon us, and it's at this point that the serious trout hunters start to get excited at the prospect of the bigger trout feeding, and feeding for longer periods of time.

As the weed starts to die in our waterways and nutrients become scarce the bigger fish tend to work a little bit harder to maintain body mass. As the days become shorter, and the amount of daylight lessens and the temperatures drop the cooling water temperature will see bigger fish move onto the shallower banks and edges to hunt smelt and minnows.

This also usually sees the bigger redfin in the Wimmera come out to play and as the bigger fish school up we will see some great action in the shallower lakes. The deeper lakes in contrasts will generally see redfish become less active as they sulk during the autumn and winter months. Natives will become harder to tempt and anglers who normally chase them turn their thoughts to trout or redfin.

Whilst we have seen the rescue of Lake Toolondo by the government we are now reliant on a wet winter with at least average rainfalls and run offs to top up the local lakes and rivers. Above average rainfall would be a godsend but at this point, long term predictions however aren’t instilling a lot of positive hope. Let's all hope the fish gods smile upon us and deliver much needed rainfall to top up the lakes, and provide a bit more security for our future water supply.

LAKE TOOLONDO

Critical high water temperatures for trout were reached here in late summer and catch rates were well down on the norm. Surface temperatures of 25 and 26 degrees Celsius made life miserable for not only the poor old trout but for the anglers too with many anglers travelling long distances to chase Toolondo’s super sized trout. Rainbows have become virtually non existent as they seem to be less tolerant of high temps, while browns were wiling, but somewhat lethargic during this period, with windows of opportunity to catch them being first and last light when the conditions were less oppressive.

Plastics imitating the local minnows and gudgeon have worked best, as have the ever reliable Celta range of lures. Trolling is now possible on days where the wind is strong enough to push the floating weed to one side. Redfin have been a very pleasant by-catch with a few larger models now starting to emerge. Average size is around the 900gm, but the odd fish to 1.6kg have been caught of late.

ROCKLANDS

Still the favourite lake for many locals who target redfin, Rocklands is fast becoming a destination for native anglers with reports of Murray cod, and the occasional bass, starting to get around. Reports are filtered in of cod landed and released by those who specifically target them and I'm hoping in time we see this waterway develop into a great native fishery. The bass have been elusive but a few gun anglers have done very well on the rocky ledges near the wall bouncing plastics and vibes across the bottom.

Carp continue to be a pest at Rocklands, their saving grace is that they provide plenty of sport for anglers, especially kids. Redfin have disappointed this year but I'm still hoping for a late run and schools to start showing up in the shallows before winter really kicks in. Trout will become more of a prospect as the weather cools, and the rainbows that were released last year have grown to around a kilo, and are freely hitting trolled lures such as Tassie Devils and Strike Pro Flatz Minnows. The odd bigger brown trout is a chance by the same method but is a better chance on a deep diving hard body.

LAKE FYANS

With Fyans currently sitting at around 75% it's the early anglers who have done well here fishing first light to target bigger trout. Tassie Devils have once again been the best lure here with gold colours, holographic, and gold winged models producing well. Personally I prefer to run a couple of deeper diving lures in conjunction with the Tassie Devils as on many occasions I have hooked nice trout in the slipstream of the motor no more than 15m behind the boat. Seems these big fellas will trail a boat in hope of picking off a stunned or disorientated baitfish. This method will also produce big redfin at this time of year as the larger girls become very active hunting for an easy feed to pile on the condition pre winter.

LAKE WARTOOK

Delightful one day and a major disappointment the next is how best to describe this magnificent lake. Anglers often report some fantastic days of trout and redfin eating hitting whatever is put in front of them, only to return the very next day and not even see a fish. This is often the case in the warmer months because Wartook is so high above sea level, and heavily influenced by barometer levels during the warmer months. I like to fish a barometer of 1015 and above in during warmer months, and in autumn/winter my preference is for a dropping or rising level. A steady barometer here with consistent readings traditionally sends the fish quiet.

Flat line trolling will come into its own in the coming weeks and we will see the resurgence of the big browns and the rainbows that Wartook is well known for. As with all Wimmera lakes the big reddies should become active prior to their winter sulk. 

WIMMERA RIVER

The river is at its healthiest for many years and this is being reflected in catch rates and the quality of fish. Whilst the pesky carp remain, numbers of native fish are thriving, and thanks to the work of Victorian Fisheries it’s only a matter of time before we see this waterway become a healthy and productive native fishery.

With the river being accessible in many areas around Horsham, families, junior anglers and visitors alike are flocking here to enjoy recreational time with a high likelihood of landing a good table fish.

Golden perch stockings have been very generous and if managed correctly we will have a consistent and productive fishery that will attract many. Scrub worms and yabbies have been best baits here fished on the bottom and around structure, trees and snags. Goldens around a kilo are good fun on light gear and some anglers are also catching some nice redfin using the same technique. Hardbodies will tempt many goldens, but my preferred lure is a spinnerbait. There’s something about the flash and vibration of these that they can’t resist. Eel tail catfish and carp are also proving a common catch for anglers. 

TAYLORS LAKE

With the water level at Taylors beginning to stabilise we should start to see the water clarity improve and the fish settle into normal patterns. Fishing tree lines and snags should produce the best numbers of fish, with golden and silver perch, as well as some smaller cod, suckers for yabbies and worms fished on the bottom and near structure. Bank angling is easy here and driving your vehicle to the water edge makes for a comfortable day sitting and relaxing between bites. Prime bite times are early and late in the day, but catching the occasional fish throughout the day isn’t unexpected. The odd big redfin has been taken here of late, and only the other day I saw a fish caught near the dam wall on a scrub worm that would have been close to 2kg. 

SAFETY

Over the summer period we did see a couple of visits to lakes and rivers by the guys from Maritime Safety Victoria checking for safety gear compliance, and making sure anglers were doing the right thing when it comes to PFDs. Remember these guys are only doing their job, namely making sure we are safe while on the water. Often I see anglers breaking the rules and not doing the right thing and it scares when I think about what can happen if things go wrong.

Anglers wearing waders on lakes and waterways is one of my biggest concerns, and while wearing them will keep you warm and dry while launching and retrieve a boat, they shouldn’t be worn while travelling on the water. If you end up in the water there’s no guarantee your PFD is going to save you. In the water your waders will quickly fill up, while the air pockets in your boots will make your feet float pushing you under. So don’t wear you waders while travelling on the water, and don’t become statistic while out on the water. Happy angling and safe boating!  

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