Winter wonderland
  |  First Published: June 2015

The Central Highlands region of Victoria is certainly blessed with some wonderful fisheries and some of those waters really shine as we move into the end of autumn and the following winter months.

Anglers will need to put on their winter woollies and rug up and get out there amongst the elements, and those that do will certainly be rewarded for their efforts I’ve never been able to catch a trophy trout while I have been sitting at home in the warmth watching the footy and whingeing about the weather. Our waters in the district hold some magnificent fish and winter is the time to catch some of them, so get out there and get amongst them.

Lake Wendouree

Lake Wendouree has been top of the tree again over the last month. I’m amazed just how good the fishing is here, and it only seems to be getting better. Ben Young and I have been fishing soft plastics (which I now am a convert to thanks Ben) with unbelievable results. Our best effort for a three hour window was boating 5 brown trout up to 53cm and losing countless others. I am amazed how these Lake Wendouree brown and rainbow trout love the plastics. Ben’s go-to plastic is a 3” Ecogear Power Shad, while mine is a 4” Nories Spoon Tail Shad. Our standard approach is to drift across the main rowing channel, slowing out boat drift with a drogue, and slow rolled out plastics back to the boat after making the longest cast we could. This presentation works on most occasions.

The weather conditions play a major role The most consistent fishing at Lake Wendouree comes on overcast days with a it of breeze. Covering water is another important element to success and the key to finding feeding fish. Olive coloured plastics are the standout colour, and I believe the trout are eating them because they seem them as one of the many minnows that inhabit the lake. Minnows are a staple for trout and redfin during summer in absence of the reduced insect activity.

Other anglers have been catching trout and redfin as well, either trolling the main rowing channel, fly fishing loch style with large woolly bugger patterns in bright colours, while the mudeye fishermen have also been catching some cracking fish. I’m sure over the winter months this will continue and some very large specimens will be caught by anglers fly fishing and lure casting with bright coloured artificials.

Newlyn and Hepburn

Newlyn Reservoir and Hepburn Lagoon have been fishing extremely well for those anglers who are prepared to put in the time and effort. I am amazed by the fish that have been caught out of these two waters. I, like many others, have fished both for modest results. I’m planning on returning in spring when the water level is higher and the fish are hopefully more active. For those that can’t wait until spring the fish are in there and they are hungry and eager to eat baits and lures. Tom Kulczynski loves to fish both of these waters and is prepared to get up early, drive up from Melbourne, and be on the water’s edge before day break nearly every weekend to tangle with their fish. And boy does he catch plenty of fish.

I have been mentioning Tom over the last few months and how he has been catching trout on mudeyes fished under bubble floats. Tom has changed tactics and is now using Tassie Devils are his weapon of choice. Tom uses is Tassie Devils in a variety of colours, with gold, white clown, and holographic colours his go-to choices. Tom has caught fish in both waters in the last month up to 6lb. The Tom keys to success are to cover plenty of water, fish deeper areas where there is no weed, and if you catch nothing, make a change. Whether is be location, or lure colour.

Tom fished Hepburn recently and caught three magnificent fish. He returned the next day hoping for the same outcome and caught nothing. Not willing to give up he then went to Newlyn Reservoir and bang, he caught three browns up to 6lb. It goes to show that despite being to close to each other that both lakes are, and can act quite differently. Both waterways over winter fish well not only for the lure fishermen but also flyfishermen using bright flies or smelt patterns.

Close to home

Bostock Reservoir and Moorabool Reservoir will be well worth a look over winter, with both waterways well stocked with trout, and home to healthy redfin populations. The humble old garden worm should produce the best results for the bait fishermen, while fly fishermen should concentrate on smelt patterns or bright coloured woolly buggers. For lure anglers bright is best in whatever lure you choose.

Tullaroop Reservoir only about 40 minutes from Ballarat should produce some good fishing over the next few months and I hold the water in high regard as an excellent winter/spring fishery especially for the fly fishermen chasing the smelt feeding trout. As a result smelt patterns are the flies of choice. Fly fishing is not the only method of catching fish from Tullaroop and casting minnow styled lures and drifting mudeyes will also some bring some of these trout and redfin out to play.
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