Smelting pot of Ballarat trout
  |  First Published: October 2015

After a fantastic start in winter, fishing in the district has certainly tapered of in recent time. Less anglers means less fish caught. In addition to this, a lack of winter rain has severely affected the water levels of our waterways. Water levels are still falling as opposed to a steady increase that usually occurs at this time. Things may look a little grim unless we have a really wet spring but the long-range forecast seems to suggest that we are once again caught in an El Nino weather pattern.

The Bright Side

It’s not all doom and gloom though, we are now into the start of another trout fishing season. The days are longer and warmer which also means we will once again start to see insect activity both on the surface and sub surface and this will wake the trout up from their winter slumber. Lake Wendouree is just starting to fire up and will only get better with that increased insect activity and the fish back in feeding mode. The lake currently has two weed harvesters cutting the lake weed all over the lake and in close to the shoreline. This gives land based anglers nearly the whole 6km of shoreline to fish as well as the many jetties that are dotted around the lake. Without weed harvesting we wouldn’t be able to fish as the lake would be choked with weed. Tom and David Jarman have braved a couple of chilly sessions on Wendouree with some success using loch style fly fishing from a boat - their best fish, a magnificent 57cm female brown trout caught by Tom on a Coral Dancer fly pattern stripped very fast from a drifting boat.

Lake Wendouree

After hearing reports that trout and redfin love soft plastics, my brother Malcolm experimented with them at Lake Wendouree. Walking along the shorelines casting the Eccogear Powershads delivered him great results and he landed some magnificent browns with quite a few follows, so there you have it - another angler hooked on soft plastics! Damien Keirl has been trying his luck fly fishing recently with a couple of warmer days and evenings in the hope of an insect hatch in the evenings. Damien managed to scoop the pool with a personal best 3kg brown trout. In the coming months Lake Wendouree will be the place to be - whether you cast a fly, drown a mud eye, troll or cast lures and soft plastics, the trout and redfin will be on the chew.

Newlyn Reservoir

Newlyn Reservoir is back on the map. The water level is still very low but slowly rising we can only hope for those spring rains for a mid-season boost. The fish are starting to move around and are starting to feed once again. The ‘Newly Master’ Tom Kulczynski - one of the most consistent anglers on the scene - has just started to catch some beautiful brown trout again. Tom has used a two-pronged attack to catch and release some of the trout that lurk around in Newlyn Reservoir. Tom reported catching them by casting lures and drifting a mud eye suspended under a bubble float. He fishes hard, sometimes from dawn till dusk and is duly rewarded for his time and effort. The flavour of the month in lures is the frog pattern Tassie Devil.

Moorabool Reservoir

Moorabool Reservoir has flown under the radar recently and not many anglers seem to be attempting to fish there. Kiel Jones, a regular fly fisher who fishes Moorabool a lot over the winter and spring puts a lot of time in and and covers miles and miles of shoreline has been snagging the odd brown trout that have been feeding on the local smelt in the reservoir. Kiel walks the perimeter until he sees a feeding fish and observes the fish’s movements and feeding patterns. He doesn’t race in all guns blazing casting flies erratically! Kiel says they are easily spooked so if you rush in they will swim back out into the deep water. Smelt feeding happens in very still conditions so you have to be very accurate with your fly presentation and also have the right pattern, not to mention a fair bit of luck! In my experience I have had with smelter the fishing can be frustrating. When the water level rises the Moorabool Reservoir will be an excellent water to fish. I recommend trying a deadly old bunch of worms on a running sinker rig, or a mud eye suspended under a bubble. In the shallows the fly fishing can be awesome early morning or on evening when the chironomid start to hatch and ball up.

Tullaroop Reservoir

Tullaroop Reservoir has quietened down a little but if you’re prepared to put in the effort you will be rewarded. The water level at Tullaroop continues to drop but this hasn’t bothered the fish. Anglers using mud eyes suspended under bubble floats have been catching trout. Kevin Brady, a member of the Ballarat Anglers club, recently snagged a these monster that tipped the scales at over 8lb. Lure casting still seems to be the most productive way of luring these big fish out of the deep with lots of casts between actually getting a follow and a chance to catch a trophy fish.

Colby Leskie is one angler who has put in the hard yards casting lures all over the vast shorelines. Colby has been using a wide variety of hard bodied lures that vary in size with the Daiwa Double Clutch proving to be the most consistent and productive lure. Colby mentioned that Tullaroop brutes are hard on your gear - make sure you have very strong hooks and fish with new and tested lines and leaders when you start a new session. The power and force of these fish is unbelievable. The steeper banks have been the areas to target but hopefully with some spring rains the water will rise and these bigger fish will come into the shallow bays dotted along the western shorelines to forage for flooded out worms and grubs. That’s when the fly fishermen and bait anglers will have a better chance of catching one of these absolute bruisers.

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