Tough fishing for tough anglers
  |  First Published: May 2015

We are now entering into the toughest time of the year across North East Victoria. Well, it’s the toughest time of the year from a fishing journalist’s perspective anyway.

The weather, which can have massive influences on the waterways, starts to get very unpredictable and the fishing is equally as unpredictable.

It’s not all doom and gloom however and there are still some great fishing options around. The Murray cod fishing in the local Ovens and King rivers has usually died right off by May. The cod can still be caught in dribs and drabs but slow cod fishing days far outnumber the good days.

We usually start seeing our first frosts for the year in Wangaratta around the start of May. The water in the local waterways is usually bitterly cold and the Murray cod are largely inactive. Keep your eye on the barometer during May. If you see it rise to over 1020hpa, then that is probably going to be the best time to head out targeting a Murray cod. There is an old saying, “1020, cod aplenty”.

During these times try using very large hardbodied lures. Something that the cod can eat that will fill its stomach up and keep it going during lengthy periods of sitting on the bottom and not feeding.

Probably the most consistent stretch of the Ovens River catchment to fish well during May is the far lower reaches of the Ovens River itself, where the water is backed up by lake Mulwala. The area around Parolas Bridge on the Murray Valley Highway produces cod each year in late autumn and winter. This area has been known to produce some very large Murray cod at times too.

Around Wangaratta, the fishing can be very hit and miss in May. As stated earlier, keep an eye on the barometer and head out when it is high, provided the rain has not affected the river too much.

The trout fishing can be really good in May in the Ovens River catchment. Trout are a cold water species and May is when the water really starts to get super cold. Many of the mature trout will head upstream during April and May to spawn. Spawning for brown trout can occur any time from late May until mid July. Rainbow trout are about 6 weeks later. During May the trout can be very energetic and very active, but may not always be on the bite as they have other things on their minds.

I like really bright fluro-coloured lures during May. A fluorescent orange Super Vibrax bladed spinner is a real standout lure during May. Last year I cleaned up with a flourescent coloured Metalhead soft plastic. So bright colours are all the go during May. If that does not work, and you find the trout following your lure but not hitting it, try casting a very large minnow type lure. Something like a 9cm Rapala Husky Jerk or similar. The trout will often hit these larger lures out of aggression as they build up to spawn.

My favourite style of fishing in the Wangaratta area during May is the redfin fishing. Fishing for redfin in lakes can be very rewarding at this time of the year. The water at the surface of the lake is usually colder than the water down deeper as water temperature takes quite a long time to adjust. As a result, lakes like Lake William Hovell tend to offer great trout fishing close to the lakes surface during May, while the redfin are usually caught down deeper in 30ft of water or thereabouts.

In Lake William Hovell, I like to fish during the day by bobbing soft plastics up and down along the bottom in the deep water. If this does not work, I will try trolling ultra deep diving lures. My favourite is probably the Halco Crazy deep in bright colours. These ripper redfin lures usually dive down to around 20ft with 15lb braided line.

Small yabbies are absolutely dynamite on redfin in lakes. Try bait fishing with them in about 25-30ft of water. I usually give each spot 20 minutes or so and if I do no good then I move on and try elsewhere. Then later in the afternoon I unrig my redfin lures and switch to trout lures and spend the last hour or two of the day trolling winged lures such as Tassie Devils. Winged lures work very well in Lake WIlliam Hovell, so too do small minnow style lures like Pontoon21, Rapala minnows, and Wildbait minnows.

Across in Lake Buffalo it is a similar story, particularly with the redfin. The only real difference is that there are not nearly as many trout in Lake Buffalo as what there are in Lake William Hovell. As a result I tend to only really target the redfin in Lake Buffalo and I will fish for them up until dark using the exact same techniques as mentioned for Lake William Hovell.

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