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Preseason blues
  |  First Published: May 2015



Waiting is a game of patience and at present Wimmera anglers are playing that game and waiting for the cold days to arrive and the big trout to come out to play.

With a reduction in the number of fishable lakes anglers will see an increase in angling pressure on the remaining lakes during winter, and thanks to the hard work of Fisheries these lakes will be handle the pressure and produce reliable and consistent fishing for anglers over the coming months.

Rocklands, Toolondo, Fyans and Wartook are the four main lakes for trout and redfin, with Rocklands the waterway with the most number of species and angling opportunities. Species on offer include, Murray cod, golden perch, bass, brown, and rainbow trout, as well as the bread and butter of the Wimmera area, the feisty redfin. Look out in next month’s edition for a special feature on this lake.

LAKE TOOLONDO

The much-anticipated boom in trout activity hasn’t materialised yet due to higher than expected water temperatures, but is still expected to take place once the cooler weather starts to take hold. The signs are there that it’s coming though, with a few ripper fish sighted, and caught. I recently sighted two double figure trout in the same day, they however don’t grow big by being silly, and they showed limited interest in the plastic that I threw at them. Even the ever-reliable mudeye have been ignored at times, with bait anglers equally finding it tough.

With 30,000 trout fingerlings so to be released, and the big trout soon to kick into the gear, the over abundance of gudgeons, mudeyes and minnows will soon take a hit. Hopefully this will see the big trout turn their attention to lures. Redfin populations have boomed here in recent times, and although a pest to many they can be the difference between a fish filled day and a day of donuts.

WIMMERA RIVER

The river once again continues to entertain anglers of all ages. With fish spread and active throughout all reaches of the river now is the time to capitalise on the natives before they head off into their winter slumber. Yabbies, both whole and as peeled tails, have been excellent baits fished on the bottom, and to the surprise of a few some quality redfin have been caught using this method.

Scrub worms will also produce plenty of fish, that’s if the carp don’t get them first. The area west of Horsham has been the most productive area, but some ripper fish have also been caught close to town. Just prior to the fishing competition there was a 92cm cod landed within 2km of the town centre. The best approach is to fish the shaded bank areas on sunny days, or around snags and trees where fish congregate and hold up waiting for an easy feed.

ROCKLANDS RESERVOIR

Rocklands Reservoir continues to produce redfin in excellent numbers, and I can see this getting even better as the bigger fish, especially the females, school up as the water temperature drops. Trout are also on the chew for anglers who are flat lining lures such as Tassie Devils and shallow running hardbodies. The odd fish has also been taken on the slightly deeper running StumpJumpers intended for redfin. Australian bass are also on offer, albeit irregularly, with bass of varying sizes now making Rocklands home. We recently caught and released a 33cm bass to fight another day, providing proof that bass are in there to be caught if your put in the time.

Cod are also featuring in many fishing reports, including an impressive 5kg fish caught by a local recently. Carp continue to provide plenty of entertainment, while Yabbies are on the move, with size and numbers up on past years.

LAKE WARTOOK

With mixed reports coming in this is a lake that’s definitely hit and miss at the moment. While things are quiet at the moment, the fishing should start to improve as we move into winter and the trout come to the fore. Rainbows are once again on the move with water temperatures beginning to drop. Trolling lures, bottom fishing, both with yabby tails and Berkley Powerbait, and casting soft plastics, have produced plenty of rainbows over the last few weeks.

Typical of Lake Wartook is the fact that the browns seem to take a back seat whilst the rainbows dominate. The browns however should start to take over again in the coming weeks, and mudeyes or gudgeons fished under a bubble float will produce fish. Flat lining Tassie Devils will catch fish early and late in the day, but the most productive method will be patiently fishing with bait.

LAKE FYANS

Like most years Fyans seems to have a pre-winter slumber, and this year has been no exception. Reports of some good redfin in the last few weeks has seen an influx of anglers, but those fishing without live gudgeon have struggled to get a bag of fish. A few have been taken trolling, but live baits have definitely been king. Trout will soon become very active, with both browns and rainbows predicted to become more active as conditions begin to cool.

Mudeyes and gudgeons will get you a shot at trout and redfin, but by all means have a go with Berkley Powerbait in both orange and pink as the rainbows seem to take it aggressively leading into winter. Soft plastics fished in the shallows have accounted for a few fish, but the clarity of the water has been high making things harder for anglers.

LAKE BELLFIELD

Lake Bellfield is a great spot for budding anglers to catch good trout and plenty of little redfin, but you’ll want to get in soon before the cold shuts things down, especially the redfin.

Chinook salmon continue to have slower than normal growth rates here, but come next spring we should see some very healthy specimens emerge. Working the wall area is the prime location, as are the trees and shrubs tight to the waterline on the western side of the like.

I always find lures work best here, as any bait presented doesn't last long thanks to the small redfin that make the place home. Tassie Devils and shallow running lures are the best option for trout, and should keep you away form the bait stealing redfin. Deeper diving lures work well on the Chinooks, but once again the small redfin usually pounce on them pretty quick. Bellfield is open to boating but it is strictly an electric only option.

SAFETY CHECKS

The onset of winter approaches is an ideal time to check all safety gear and repair/replace anything that you think may be not up to spec. Torches, fire extinguishers, PFDs, lights, batteries, and radios, are critical in a crisis and as a rule I check mine pre-summer and pre-winter just to be safe.

Keep in mind most winter days you may not see another boat on the water so if something goes wrong you may be on your own. Some Wimmera lakes have no mobile service so a UHF radio can be a saviour in a time of breakdown or emergency. Always try to have a backup plan and never go without letting someone know your intended location. In extreme emergency the 000 service is available even when your mobile doesn't have reception.

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