Ballarat brown trout bandits
  |  First Published: November 2015

Extended dry season - words that we as anglers certainly do not want to hear but must now recognise as reality. The Ballarat and surrounding district have moved through a cold dry old winter, with great hope of a very wet spring. But our optimism was not enough as the weather pattern has continued in cold, dry fashion. The water levels in the district are all still falling which is a bad sign of things to come especially with summer on the way. Hopefully we receive some late spring rains!

Dry Old Show

It would be a shame to not receive these rains as the waterways have been stocked with some magnificent trout by the fisheries department, paid for by the proceeds of your angling licences. Lake Wendouree is the exception to the rule in the district. Hundreds of thousands of dollars has ben invested by the local council and state government over the drought period to ensure that lake Wendouree is drought proof. There is always water in Wendouree and every drop of rain we get now flows straight into the lake.

Tullaroop Reservoir is the top fishery in the wider district at the moment with some excellent trophy sized trout being caught but the drop in reservoir levels will have a significant impact on the spring fishing results. Instead of fishing over green grassy bays and banks you will be fishing over muddy sandy shorelines with not much incentive for trout to move into the shallows. For now, conditions are good and anglers have been catching some thumpers on bait, lures, plastics, and flies Ben Sharp scooped the pool recently with two absolute stonker brown trout! Both were approximately 8lb, caught on local minnows fished on a running rig. This makes a lot of sense as the main diet for Tullaroop fish is small smelt, minnows, and yabbies. I fished Tullaroop myself with mud eye suspended under a bubble recently and was lucky enough to land a beautiful rainbow trout approximately 3.5lb. The fish seem to be just cruising around looking for food now after their winter slumber and for a lot of trout fishermen this makes spring the prime time for fishing.

Reservoir fishing

Moorabool Reservoir is now starting to show some real potential. Once again, the reservoir is suffering from low water levels but there are still some grassy banks that the trout have been feeding over. Tom Kulczynski has been putting in the hard yards once again and has been reaping the rewards. I mention Tom’s name in nearly every report because he fishes lots of different waters with varied methods. Tom is always happy to pass on his reports and his valuable knowledge can help other anglers to catch fish. Tom has been catching some awesome brown trout on scrub worms at Moorabool recently with quite a few over 3kg. His secret is to put 4 or 5 scrub worms on a running sinker rig and fish on the grassier banks – big bait, big fish. Tom suggests that the smaller fish are scared off by the sheer size of his bait ball of wriggling worms and cannot swallow them and that only the big fish can inhale them. Proven to be a good theory as Tom has conquered these big Moorabool browns. Although time of day hasn’t mattered, overcast weather seems to affect the fishing positively.

Lake Wendouree has had a slow start to the season with some tough fishing. I’ve had a few short sessions with not much to write about but can vouch through the experience of others that the fish are there! Ben and Jakey Young have been catching a few by casting either soft plastics or hardbodied lures from both boat and bank. The lake will certainly fire up over the coming months as the weather warms. Currently, the water temperature is absolutely freezing and the insects are a bit on the slow side, once this warms up we will have plenty of midge, caddis, and mud eyes hatching and with that the trout and redfin in the lake will certainly come on the chew. Fly fishermen will once again be hoping for some mayfly action, we saw glimpses of hatches in autumn so hopefully they fire up and bring the lake back to the pre-2010 drought years when lake Wendouree was Victoria’s premier mayfly water and a destination for fly fishers from all over Australia. Not a bad rap for a lake in the middle of Ballarat!

Fishing in the district will be dictated over the coming months by rainfall and hopefully we get plenty of it. Waters that I would normally write about during the spring months, like Hepburn Lagoon, Newlyn, Bostock, and Cosgroves Reservoir, are all still very fishable but this may change obviously depending on the weather conditions.

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