The lure of Wendouree trout
  |  First Published: April 2015

Lake Wendouree has quickly become a thriving fishery that has lured anglers from all across the state to fish for huge redfin and trophy trout. However, being a shallow lake with the shore lined with weed beds, this popular destination can be a real challenge for everyday lure anglers like myself.

I struggled to even see a fish when I first began targeting Wendouree trout. I spent countless hours casting various lures at every known location for zero results, not even a follow. The most frustrating part was seeing constant reports from the lake popping up on websites, such as Facebook, claiming big reddies, solid rainbows and huge browns all being caught regularly by the same people, the ones who truly had the place figured out.

It wasn’t until a freezing cold August morning last year when I finally had my first taste of success at Wendouree. I spent two hours casting a small shallow diver in bone-chilling Ballarat weather for absolutely nothing, and I had pretty much given up hope and was about to head back home. However, with a half-hearted cast parallel to the rock wall at the start of the rowing course, I hooked up to my first (and personal best to this day) brown trout from the Wendouree, a beautiful 53cm fish taken on a Pontoon 21 CrackJack SR48 in bleeding tiger prawn.

During the months following that session, I rarely went fishless at the lake. Over that period of time, I constructed a set of basic rules to follow for land-based lure fishing at Wendouree.

Firstly, lure selection. I have had the most success fishing with popular minnow imitations such as Pontoon 21 CrackJacks, Nories Laydown Minnows, or if you’re looking for cheaper options, 7g Tassie Devils. Remember to choose the shallow diving model for each of these lures to avoid snagging the shallow weeds in the lake.

Regarding colours, I have found natural colours to be far more effective on brown trout while brighter colours will catch more rainbows.

When you have the right lures, cast away. The more casts you put in and the more you move around, the more likely you are to find a fish. Try to place your casts along the sides of or in between visible weed beds for best results, as that is where the fish are likely to be holding. I have also found casting at areas where you can see fish rising to be very effective.

Retrieves are an important factor when tempting Wendouree trout. I’ve found a medium retrieve with lots of twitches to be the most effective when fishing with hardbodied lures, and a slow/medium steady wind close to the surface to be the best with heavier lures like Tassie Devils. Also, don’t be too hasty while removing your lure from the water. Trout will often follow a lure right in to the bank and pausing the lure a few metres from the bank can sometimes entice a strike.

A quick note on gear – you don’t need to use super heavy gear to successfully land fish in Wendouree. In fact, I caught my biggest trout there on a 1-3kg Shimano Starlo Classix Rod with a 2500 Shimano Sienna with 8lb braid – a very affordable budget combo that handled a big trout no problems at all. Nowadays I use a 1-3kg rod, 2000 or 2500 sized reel and 6lb braid with 8lb leader.

Secondly, location is important when you’re fishing with lures. The vast majority of the lake’s shoreline is extremely difficult to fish with lures due to the shallow weed beds that you will constantly get caught up in. I recommend fishing either the start/end of the rowing course, viewpoint, or off the concrete bank between Pipers by the Lake and the Adventure playground on the western shoreline.

Polarized sunglasses will significantly help you to spot the weed beds in the lake, and therefore give you the advantage of knowing where to cast and where the fish are likely to be holding.

Last of all, time of day is everything. This is one of the crucial mistakes I was making when I first started fishing here – I was always fishing either late morning or early afternoon. The trout will come in close to the shore to feed at dawn and dusk – so that’s when you should be fishing. The first two hours and last two hours of light on a cool, overcast day have always been the most productive for me, especially during spring and autumn.

During the recent heat of the summer months I have found that the fishing action has slowed down significantly - but some quality fish were still being landed so it’s definitely still worth trying.

Overall, if you persist with these tactics, especially when the weather begins to cool down, you should be able to start pulling in some decent fish from Wendouree.

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