Tough fishing to come
  |  First Published: December 2015

We have just gone through one of the driest winters on record, with spring rains and run off non-existent.

Normally our waters around the Ballarat and district have risen over new ground throughout the spring months and our fishing is red hot. The only thing that is red hot at the moment is our weather and things look grim for the future. Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom. Some of our fisheries in the district have really fired up and some anglers have been reaping the rewards.

The Ballarat Fly Fishers Club recently hosted the Wastell Trophy. The trophy was named after one of the founding members of the Ballarat Fly Fishers Club Victor Wastell. The aim of the fly fishing competition was to foster new members and bring fly fishers from all over the state together and enjoy each other’s company and catch a few fish.

Originally the competition was a one day competition but since the 50th Wastell trophy, the club has made it into a 2 day event with a social evening planned for the Saturday night to keep up the tradition. Various waters have been fished over the years, depending on the previous year’s results.

The past couple of years has seen the Wastell Trophy based at Creswick and variety of waters that were available for fly fisher to fish this year’s waters included Lake Wendouree, Hepburn Lagoon, Newlyn Reservoir, Cosgroves Reservoir, Dean Reservoir, Moorabool Reservoir, Tullaroop Reservoir and also Cairn Curran Reservoir. Most of these waters this year are all very low due to the lack of winter and spring rains.

The Wastell Trophy this year was fished in bright sunny conditions not conducive to fly fishing at all, but that didn’t stop some 60 fly fishers representing nine fly fishing clubs from as far away as Tasmania. There were lots of fishy tales spoken over the weekend about the ones that got away except for Ballarat fly fishing club member Russell Wilson.

Russell was the successful fly fisher with a magnificent brown trout 2.9kg, which was caught first cast on a Hammills Killer fly pattern from the smallest water in the competition, Dean Reservoir. Due to the weather conditions the fishing was tough, but most fly fishers had an opportunity over the weekend the catch a fish.

Moorabool Reservoir is the standout water in the district with some cracking brown trout and redfin being caught. I have mentioned over the past few months that Moorabool should fish well and it has come up to my expectations. The fishing is by no means easy, and even more now with the water levels dropping rapidly with the water required for domestic use. Further downstream of the Reservoir the banks are very muddy and uninviting, but don’t be scared off by this, you could look at it from another angle – there’s less water between you and the fish.

The redfin have certainly come on the chew with the warmer weather, and Darryl Luttrell and Tom Kulczynski have been two anglers getting stuck into the reddies. They’ve been out there catching them on yabbies, but also casting soft plastics. The redfin are up to nearly 2kg in size, and great eating as well. The boys have been doing the miles around the banks to locate these schools of fish and when they find them, it’s game on.

Colby Lesko, another keen all round angler, has been catching some magnificent trout and redfin at Moorabool as well with his best catch to date a magnificent brown trout of 67cm and estimated at 8lb on a large bunch of worms fished on a running sinker rig. On the same day, Colby bagged some big redfin casting hardbodied lures.

Lake Wendouree is just starting to fire up with angler numbers starting to increase and a few fish being caught. The weather has been playing a big part in the fishing results on Wendouree, and normally we see a few overcast coolish days where the fly fishers are out on the lake in numbers, catching some trout that might be feeding on the Mayflies that hatch at this time of the year. This hasn’t happened so much this year, we seem to be just getting bright blue sky days and with the shallow nature of the lake the fish have been heads down, bum up in the weed and not feeding much during the day.

With the unusually warmer weather at this time of the year us as anglers need to change our tactics and fishing times. Evening and after dark will be the best time to get the best results while the weather is warm. I recently had an early start just fishing mud eye from the shore with excellent results. I landed a magnificent brown trout of approximately 1.5kg.

The lake is virtually fishable all the way around the shoreline, so if you want to fish a mud eye just drive up and pick a spot along the shoreline or one of the many jetties and pontoons that are located around the lake.

For the fly fishers, I would suggest fishing in the evening and into the dark with mud eye patterns, as the bug mud eyes that live in Lake Wendouree are now hatching into dragon flies under the cover of darkness.

Fly patterns I would suggest are Mrs Simpson, Craig’s Night Time, Fur Fly and a Muddler Minnow all fished with a very slow retrieve. One other tip, make sure you cast right in along the shorelines over the bluestone rocks, as the fish will come in very close when feeding on the mud eyes.

For the anglers that like to fish lures, cast plastics or hardbodies, once again morning and evening are the go but if you get an overcast day the fish will bite all day.

Newlyn Reservoir has seen a few fish being caught on fly, bait and lures, and early morning and evening are the most productive times. If we do get some cloud cover during the day the mayfly will certainly pop up and the trout will start to feed on them.

Kiel Jones fly fished Newlyn recently on a bright sunny day and the mayfly started to hatch, which is not the norm and the fish were looking up and started to feed straight away. Kiel bagged a magnificent brown trout of approximately 1.5kg and released him to fight another day.

My suggestions of fly patterns are a brown nymph, Shaving Brush, Possum Emerger or a Highland Dunn if the mayfly start to hatch.

In Tullaroop Reservoir, the fishing has really slowed down with the odd fish being caught. It’s more a case of the weather being too good, and angler numbers have dropped off significantly from a few months ago. The water level is still dropping and the trout have stayed out in the deeper water, as there is not much food for them to come in after, except a few caddis just on evening. Tom Kulcyznski, who just doesn’t give up easy and is desperately wanting to land one of the true trophy fish that are lurking around in Tullaroop, has been casting hardbodied lures along the deeper banks trying to lure one out.

He has been catching some superb sized redfin, but the trout have played hard to get with lots of follows but no takes. Tom said it is very frustrating but worth trying.

Photo’s courtesy of Chris Doody.

Photo Courtesy of Darryll Luttrell.

Photo Courtesy of Tom Kulczynski.

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