Now’s the time to get amongst some Wangaratta trout
  |  First Published: November 2015

One thing is for sure – it’s been a dry spring. September saw Wangaratta receive less than 25% of its annual rainfall. The upside is that the rivers and creeks have been in great condition and access to the waterways has been good and much earlier than most other seasons. The downside is that with little rainfall in the forecast things could be mighty dry this summer.

Ovens River

By November expect many of the rivers and creeks to be somewhere close to their usual summer levels. So for Melbourne cup weekend, expect to find similar conditions to what you would normally see in December. There is always a remote possibility though that we could get a deluge of rain, which would mix things up a bit.

So far this spring, we have had exceptionally good trout fishing. The season started off well in September and remained that way for quite a long time. Locating the trout is hit and miss with some streams containing lots of fish, some having a few and some having just enough to keep the angler interested.

The main river in the catchment, the Ovens River has fished quite well for trout all spring. Early in the season trout were landed on just about everything that was thrown in their direction, but September saw quite a lot of fishing pressure on the Ovens River, which has caused the trout to inhabit their environment warily.

By the end of September, anglers using the most natural presentations achieved the best results. Small natural coloured soft plastics have been working in the lure department, and fly fisherman have been picking up a few on nymphs. Bait fisherman have been having a great time, catching plenty of trout on scrub worms.

The best section of the Ovens River has been from Bright upstream, although I have also had a few reports of trout being caught from down around Porpunkah as well. During November, the Ovens River should continue to fish well as the last of the remaining snowdrifts melt away and plenty of water flows down which the Ovens River drains. Around the region, the Buckland, Buffalo, and Rose rivers should all tick over well with the trout found in patches. The most likely parts of the rivers to hold trout will be the headwaters.

Rivers running rife with trout

The King River should fish well for trout during November, but only upstream above Lake William Hovell. Downstream of Lake William Hovell the river has degraded so much as a trout fishery in recent years that it is no longer worth targeting fish there. The water there no longer gets much shade as so many of the willow trees have been removed, and as a result the water is much warmer than it once was, making conditions unfavourable for trout.

The lower reaches of the Ovens and King rivers have provided some great fun for anglers heading out chasing carp over the spring months. The yellowbelly that used to be stocked in the Ovens River years ago are now almost obsolete as the population of protected trout and cod has replaced them. I would love to see a few yellowbelly stocked around Wangaratta each year to provide a springtime option for anglers, especially the kids! But in the meantime, chasing carp with light line, soft tipped rods and a bunch of worms or corn kernels is keeping us very well entertained.

Lake Buffalo should start to come to life during November as the water begins to warm up. There is not a huge population of yellowbelly in the lake, however there are a few, and a few large ones at that. November is the best time of the year to target them. Look for rocky outcrops, particularly around the island. Try casting lipless crankbaits around the steeper banks, or bait fishing with small yabbies around the many dead standing trees in the lake. There are still plenty of redfin in Lake Buffalo, with a few good ones in the mix to keep anglers entertained while they wait for the yellowbelly to show up.

Don't forget that the Murray cod season opens on December 1st. With the weather the way it is at the moment, I am expecting conditions to look perfect during November. Don't be tempted to jump the gun and start flicking lures around or you could find yourself staring into the eyes of the law.

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