Lake Eildon and surrounding areas provide many options for those of us who are piscatorially minded. Fisheries have stocked the lake, pondage and rivers generously, making this area an ideal destination for keen fishos to take their families with the objective of introducing them to the world of fishing. These great waterways are accessible and provide a better than average chance of catching a fish for little nippers just starting out! The one thing I do know about taking the family fishing is that success is important. If that success isn’t achieved quickly, the objective of the day easily becomes keeping the kids entertained.
Enter Eildon Trout Farm. Situated on Back Eildon Road, heading towards Eildon from Thornton, Eildon Trout Farm is a working hatchery that offers the opportunity to catch rainbow trout, brown trout, and Atlantic salmon, as well as redfin in various ponds on the property. The fishery operates on a catch and pay policy for those using bait, however recently the option to catch and release has been added (with the approval of management) for those anglers who would like to fly or lure fish. Please see the fact box in this feature for the costs involved.
Lee Carpenter is the host and manager at the farm and I caught up with him recently to not only sample the fishing on offer, but also to get a tour of the operation and an insight into their future plans.
Eildon Trout Farm produces all of its own fish to sell either through the retail outlet, commercially or as fingerlings for farmers and stocking groups. Fish produced are brown, rainbow, brook and golden trout. Atlantic salmon and Chinook salmon are bred and Lee is also dabbling in redfin and Murray cod.
Tours are available if booked in advance. I highly recommend taking a tour as it provides a real insight into the effort that goes into producing the fish, the workings of the ponds, and how the entire facility works environmentally.
The biggest thrill for me however was when Lee naturally stunned some of the brood stock so we could get a better look at them. The colouring and size of the fish are amazing and to get up close and personal to a golden trout is something I will remember for a long time.
Eildon Trout Farm has five stocked dams that you can fish in. Entry is $2.50 per person and rod hire (includes bait and bucket) is a further $2.50 per rod. You then pay a per kilo rate (rates vary depending on the species caught) on any fish you catch. The team at the farm clean and prepare your fish to take home.
The bait provided is similar to the pellet mix used to feed the fish and guarantees success. The size and species of fish varies depending on the dam you fish and the farm will provide an approximate cost per fish as a guideline. It would be very easy to get caught up in the moment and have plenty of fresh fish to take home! As far as the family situation is concerned, the kids are going to be entertained from the first cast and will get a first hand understanding of what it’s like to hook and fight a fish. You also have the opportunity to show them the different species and in general the fish are beautifully coloured.
Another option recently introduced is to bring your own gear (lure or fly) and test some new lures and your skills with the option to catch and release. Some rules do apply though and the management must approve catch and release. This is a great option if the fishing has been tough elsewhere and of course you can still keep your catch if you want to. I spent a couple of hours with Lee fishing the main dam and caught some beautiful fish. It was not a fish a cast, you still needed to think about the lure you were using, your retrieve and even the areas to cast to. The fish still needed to be deceived.
I loved it, and probably would have stayed all day if time permitted. The scenery is beautiful and the challenge was enough for you to want to have one more cast.
Lee explained to me that the farm is popular with groups and fishing clubs. There are BBQ facilities available and the teams from High Country Fly Fishing School and Walkabout Fishing tours can organise to provide lessons on fly-casting and hardbody/soft plastic lure rigging and presentation. Tours can also be organised to go through the working element of the farm.
You don’t have to fish, you can organise to visit and be served some of the local produce. While you are enjoying that, you can select any fish you want from the ponds and the team will clean and prepare them for you to take away.
Another great aspect of the farm is the local produce they sell. They smoke their own trout (I can highly recommend this dish – seriously moreish) and produce a superb smoked trout pate. They also sell locally produced cheeses, gourmet food, and wines. They can also provide some hints on how to cook your catch and have some rubs and marinades that will take your catch from excellent to exquisite.
The farm has plans to use the largest dam on the property used as a native fish fishery. There are currently a few large Murray cod and golden perch in the dam with a sprinkling of redfin as well. Lee is determined to further develop the options for this lake. It has the potential to showcase our native species, including bass. If the couple of golden perch I saw patrolling the margins while we had a quick cast are anything to go by, you could potentially catch the fish of a lifetime.
I am happy to recommend a visit to Eildon Trout Farm. The venue provides a relaxed atmosphere, is family friendly and best of all you can leave with a feed of fresh fish and some quality local produce.
You can contact Lee and the team on 03 5773 2377 or get more information through their website www.eildontroutfarm.com.au
|Entry:||$2.50 per person (children under 5 free)|
|Rod Hire:||$2.50 per rod (includes bait and bucket)|
Catch and release cost per person
Costs per kilo