No winter blues for Ballarat
  |  First Published: September 2015

Anglers in and around the Ballarat district have certainly been putting up with some incredibly cold weather, -5 on the outside temperature gauge on the car the other morning!

But that’s where it stops, there has been no winter blues when it comes to catching some quality fish around the district. As I mentioned, some very cold but not wet weather, which we desperately need around the district as a lot of our waters are very low due to below average rains last year. Unfortunately the weather pattern looks very similar to that of last year… lets all hope for late winter and spring rains.

On the upside, most of all the waters in the district have or are currently being stocked with trout by the DEPI, which normally happens during the winter months. This gives the fish time to establish themselves in the waterways and also the waterways are usually filling up and this provides plenty of food for the young trout to grow quickly. These stockings by the fisheries are funded from revenue raised from our angling licences.

Last month I mentioned Tullaroop Reservoir as the trophy trout water where you had the chance to catch that elusive trophy fish. Angler numbers have increased to no end, and with a lot of fishers come lots of casts and a few more monsters being caught. I also mentioned that Tullaroop is not an easy place to catch a fish at, so no guarantees there.

Colby Leskie, an excellent all round angler, has been putting in the hard yards and spending plenty of time walking the vast shorelines of Tullaroop and catching some magnificent looking brown and rainbow trout. Colbies favourite lure has been the Daiwa Double Clutch lure in the 60mm size. He mentioned that some days you will get plenty of follows by these hard-to-catch monsters. They will follow the lure in all the way to your feet and then just cruise back out into the deeper water. Some days you might only see one fish and bang it grabs the lure! It’s just a matter putting in the time to get the results.

Robbie Rawlings heard about some of the monsters lurking around Tullaroop and made the trip up from Melbourne to tackle the beasts from beneath. Robbie spent quite a few hours in very ordinary weather conditions, with winds blowing a gale and intermittent rain showers… Fishing the deep rockier shorelines of Tullaroop he managed to snag a cracking male brown trout on a Rapala hardbodied lure. Robbie mentioned that he made a thousand casts before he nailed one, so fishing once again is not a walk in the park at Tullaroop.

I’ve seen all the photos and spoken to many of anglers that have ventured up to Tullaroop and come home empty-handed, but I thought I’d better head up and try to catch a fish myself. I had plan A, B and C: I would cast some lures and plastics around, then drown a mud eye and finally cast a fly, but not everything went to plan on the way up to Tullaroop. In my haste to leave home, I packed everything I thought I needed. Everything but the mudeyes… Not to worry, a change of plans saw me cast some lures and plastics. Anyway, that’s what most of the fish have been getting caught on. I fished the shallower bays and banks of Gulloways Bay in pretty windy conditions with no luck – not even a follow. I decided to head to the steeper rocky banks of Tullaroop to try my luck. The water was crystal clear, so I tried hardbodied lures with no luck, so I went back to a 4” Norrie’s Spoon Tail Shad soft plastic, which I’ve had plenty of success on at Wendouree.

I cast out into the deeper water along the rocky banks everywhere while covering plenty of shoreline, and BANG! A magnificent 60cm+ hen brown trout engulfed the plastic, and it was game on! I finally landed her, took a couple of photos and released her to fight another day. Once again lots of casts and lots of water covered, but it was very rewarding to catch one of the awesome brown trout that lurk in Tullaroop Reservoir!

With some late winter and spring rains, Tullaroop will fish extremely well, as the water rises up over new ground and I’m sure some of the thumpers will be found swimming around in the shallows and will be targeted by the bait and fly fishers.

Lake Wendouree has quietened down a little bit over the last month but I think that’s mainly because the angler numbers have dropped off from the previous month. It could have something to do with the freezing cold weather as I mentioned – we’re not seeing 10-15 boats on the water on weekends, it’s down to 4-5, but those guys that are putting in the time and effort in these freezing conditions have been rewarded for their efforts.

Kris Leckie and a few mates ventured up to fish after hearing the reports coming from Wendouree that the trout were on the go. The boys trolled lures and cast plastics all over Lake Wendouree with not much success until Kris came across a brown trout feeding on smelt. He cast a 3” Fish Arrow soft plastic where the trout was chomping down smelt and the fish nailed the plastic like there was no tomorrow! After a good fight, Kris landed the brown of around 3lb.

Ben Young has also been landing some quality browns casting EcoGear Power Shad soft plastics from the shore and jetties that are located around the lake. Ben’s secret is cover plenty of water and retrieve the plastics very fast.

Lake Wendouree will start to improve in the coming months as the trout and redfin move from spawning mode and back into feeding mode again, but in the mean time casting lures and plastics from the shore or boats should prove productive. So too should fly fishing. Fly anglers stripping big wet fly patterns from the shore and boats will catch a few.

Moorabool Reservoir has been pretty quiet over the winter months and once again I think it’s been a lack of anglers putting in the hard yards and battling the elements leading to a lack of reports coming in. Moorabool generally fishes very well during these colder months with the trout targeting the smelt as they move into the shallow bays to spawn themselves. The trout find them irresistible and are generally easier to catch in shallow water. I’m sure this is happening like every other year, but I have not heard of any reports.

Darryll Luttrell and Tom Kulczynki would have to be two of the most consistent fishers I know. They spend every weekend out on the water, rain hail or shine. Darryll and Tom have just started fishing Moorabool again after spending quite a few weekends fishing Tullaroop, and they decided that they could get an extra 2 hours fishing instead of driving any further to Tullaroop. On a recent trip, Darryll mentioned it was one of the coldest days he has ever fished and by the photo, I can tell he’s definitely feeling cold!

Darryll and Tom also like to target the cracking big redfin that reside in the Moorabool Reservoir. The boy’s like to fish on the steeper banks casting wobblers, spoons, hardbodied lures and also soft plastics, trying to temp the redfin to bite. On their most recent trip the fish really didn’t want to play the game, but Darryll still managed to tempt one big redfin. He caught it casting an EcoGear Power Shad in the eel colour.

Over the coming months, like most other waters, Moorabool Reservoir should start to fire up with both trout and redfin really coming on the bite.

Photo courtesy of Colby Leskie.

Photo courtesy of Robbie Rawlings.

Photo courtesy of Darryll Luttrell.

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