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Luscious lowlands will deliver
  |  First Published: September 2015



Well that was one of my all time greatest failures! A few months ago I retired from almost all forms of fishing journalism. I decided it was time to take a step back from writing and concentrate on other aspects of my life.

As the teenagers say these days... “EPIC FAIL!” My retirement lasted little more than 3 months, now here I am back in the game. To be honest, I missed writing more than I thought I would, but also realise that I do not have the spare time that I once did, as a result I will be continuing on with my Wangaratta fishing reports, but have given up the Kiewa Valley reports which I use to also write.

Anyhow, that’s enough about me, let’s start talking about the important stuff... the fishing! And September is when everything starts to spring back to life.

Trout fishing will dominate the fishing in North East Victoria throughout September as the lowland species just start to become active.

Trout

Saturday 5 September is the start of the 2015/2016 trout season. As always, many of the region’s keen anglers will be out at daybreak trying to get in early and get first casts at the trout, which have not seen any lures or flies for close to 3 months.

To find more information on the upcoming trout season, please read my feature article in this edition of Fishing Monthly, where I go into detail on some of the regions more respected trout streams and give a general forecast of what to expect this season.

Lowland species

As mentioned, the lowland species of fish are usually just starting to move in September as the days get longer and the weather just starts to warm up a bit. The weather plays a huge factor in the fishing around Wangaratta during the early parts of spring, as too much rain can make the rivers unfishable. This is due to the fact that the Ovens River is not dammed like so many other rivers, making it quite a natural flowing waterway. It makes it hard to project a fishing report, but provides excellent natural fishing spawning conditions.

If we do see a lot of August rainfall, the Ovens River may be very high and very dirty. When this happens, there are some parts of the river that can be fished, however the fishing is usually quite slow. Lake Sambell in Beechworth can provide a great fishing alternative in September as it is stocked twice during the colder months with yearling rainbow trout, which provide great sport and great fun for the kids.

For anybody really wanting to fish for lowland species where it is a bit warmer, try fishing Tea Garden Creek for carp. Tea Garden Creek is fed by water from the Ovens River at Whorouly. It runs through the Oxley Flats and then enters the King River upstream of Wangaratta. As it is fed through water diversion, it does not suffer from high floodwater as much as the main rivers. It will still rise and fall after rain events, however the water usually subsides quite quickly providing alternative fishing opportunities when the Ovens and King rivers are too high.

The downside is that Tea Garden Creek is really just a carp fishery. It’s a small shallow creek with a mud bottom running through mostly private property, with public roadside access on the Oxley Flats Road. As stated it is only a carp fishery, but opens up another fishing option if the Ovens River is flooded!

If we do not get too much rain during August and the Ovens River is settled, the fishing will start off slow at the start of the month and gradually improve as the days get longer and warmer.

Around Wangaratta itself the majority of fish caught will be carp. The Ovens River around Wangaratta is known Murray cod water, and they are off limits during September, which is the first month of the Murray cod closed season. That does not mean you cannot fish it at all, and each year I have a lot of fun fishing around Wangaratta using worms for bait and catching carp. I do catch a few small Murray cod on worms, but they are usually very small and always released.

There are yellowbelly (golden perch) further downstream along the Ovens River. The further downstream you go the more yellowbelly there are. I usually consider Peechelba as the upper range of yellowbelly in the Ovens River. Although they are caught upstream each year, including Wangaratta and further up, their numbers are few and far between and not sufficient enough to warrant targeting them.

The lower reaches of the Ovens River around Bundalong is where the best population of yellowbelly is in the Ovens River. Even then there’s not a huge amount, making them more of a sport fishing option than a harvestable option.

If you’re after a feed of fresh yellowbelly, then you are probably better off heading over to Lake Nillahcootie on the Broken River, which is stocked heavily, making it more sustainable, or even Lake Hume near Albury/Wodonga. Both of those lakes start to become active towards the later part of September.

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