Water is the main point of discussion throughout the Wimmera once again, as the dry season continues to take a toll on many lakes. Levels are falling to a critical stage, and given we are having an above average summer already some real carnage may develop over the coming months.
A lot of hard work has been done by Fisheries, to restock and prolong the waterways, but this could all be undone if the summer rains and thunderstorms don’t arrive soon. Toolondo especially is feeling the pinch, with some fish kills occurring over the very hot Christmas period after several days over 40°C. Let’s all hope some relief turns up soon.
With the onset of scorching days I’ve worked closely with the Fisheries team and the local CMA to devise a plan to try and save the lake from drying out, losing stock and the title of the best trout lake on mainland Australia. After some quick meetings, discussions and a flurry of texts and messages, an urgent meeting was called at the lake in mid-December. At this point it was decided that to salvage anything from the lake we needed to isolate the southern lake from the northern and eastern lakes by cutting off the sandbars and making the south end a priority - both water and fish wise. Within days machinery was in and completed this task. Allowing the shallow eastern lake to evaporate (given that very few fish would still be there), the priority now was to pump out what water was left in the northern lake to the southern and create a cooler, deeper section where the existing fish can congregate and hopefully be relocated over the sandbank into the southern lake and survive.
It’s a long shot I know, but the only option we had of preserving anything from a terrible summer season and to maybe pull the lake through until rains arrive. A huge thanks goes to Anthony Forster of Fisheries Victoria, Dave Brennan of the Wimmera CMA and Bernie Dunn at GWM for their input and willingness to see the lake survive.
Dropping water levels here have made good fishing a little sporadic, but those willing to put in the time have reaped rewards with some good bags of redfin, taken especially on the troll. Early and late in the day produces best, and some holidaying anglers have also done well fishing into the night. Due to falling water levels trout have been very quiet here lately.
The bass continue to thrill anglers, who take them as a bonus catch while trolling for redfin. Look for structure, and rocky outcrops for the best results. At this time of year we see them congregate in numbers so persist in the areas where you find them.
Toolondo has been in decline and currently sits at 11% capacity, but has surprisingly still produced some cracking fish for both lure and bait anglers. It is impossible to troll in such weed growth and shallow water. On the calmer days putting a mudeye under a float is your best option, but if the wind gets up and some wind lanes form there is some great fishing to be had. I know I’ve given the OSP bent minnows a great review over the last few months and they continue to dominate all other lures thrown in this lake. The shallows at first and last light are a great place to look as the bigger fish herd up minnows and smelt. Redfin have started to come on the chew finally and are a welcome by-catch when targeting trout.
With high water levels and great numbers of fish, Fyans has become a Mecca for trout anglers in the region. Some lovely fish are available, with lots of browns over 3kg sighted and a few landed. Backing these up is a whole series of sizes ranging from the big boys down to a lot of fish of around the 900g mark. Rainbows also seem to be abundant, and given that the water temps are cooler than most lakes, they are in good condition and ripe for the picking. Nories Laydown Minnows have been a strong choice here for most fishos and produce the goods on the rainbows.
Tassie Devils have also taken their share of fish too, and the standard white and orange are your best choice. Some very big redfin are still being landed, the best of which I’ve heard of was a touch under 3kg landed on a Warlock diving lure in black with pink stripes.
Taylors Lake is alive with natives galore for those willing to fish during the night and early morning, and mainly from the banks where the fish move into the shallows for a feed. Peeled raw yabby tail has been the most effective bait but there have been several cod taken on whole yabby or scrub worm. Bardi grubs also produced a few fish as well as cheese balls and raw chicken strips. There seems to be plenty of small silver perch too, and the ever-present population of carp to break the monotony of waiting for a native to arrive. Good redfin are regularly landed on baits, bladed lures and spinnerbaits cast around snags and trees.
While the reports haven’t flowed in this month, the quality of the fish has improved as the lake slowly drops and the water temperature rises in the Grampians surrounded lake. Wartook is set in the valley and is therefore the last place to experience the summer boom, as the fish rise to insects and freely chase baitfish in the shallows. Wartook holds some of the best looking specimens of brown trout around, however, they never seem to grow to great length. What they lack in length they make up for in bulk – a typical brown of around 55cm tips the scales to around 3kg here, whereas other lakes this length would only yield around 2.5kg.
Rainbows have been hard to tempt on the dropping water levels, but anglers trolling Tassies early and late in the day have taken a few. Some redfin have come to the fore, they have schooled up and deep diving daytime trolling has done the trick. A few are taken on bait, as well as Rapala ice jigs worked through located schools.
Cod continue to bite well, and much the same as Taylors, they respond well to yabby, cheese and scrub worms. Anglers putting the time in have caught fish up to 70cm, but there are plenty of smaller fish around the 20-30cm mark to raid bait supplies. Trolling hasn’t produced many fish this year and boat traffic may be accountable for poor bank angling since the opening. A few redfin have been taken on worms, and lure casters have also landed some good fish.
With levels rising and falling here due to much-needed flushes from environmental flows, the fishing has been very patchy. There have still been some quality yellas caught, and a few smaller cod on baits. Carp dominate the river system and are always present to entertain the youngsters on both worms and corn. Expect some stability in the fishing over the next few weeks as things settle down on the river, however but this won’t last long – as water temperature skyrockets the natives will go deep and into hiding. First and last light will be the ideal times from then on to chase natives with spinnerbaits, large hardbodies and rattling lures. Cast the snags and logs, and work the shaded area for best results. Schools of smaller redfin are on the move in the river too but aren’t very big.
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