Wade through the weed to get some magnificent trout
  |  First Published: March 2016

Wendouree will probably be on the top of every angler’s list in the Ballarat and surrounding districts as the long dry spell continues. As water levels recede, water temperature increases, and with no rain in sight for most waters in the district, Lake Wendouree has become one of the only viable fishing options. Most waters have good stocked healthy populations of trout and redfin, however the anticipated spring rains never eventuated.

Some of our waters have become very difficult to fish due to the low water levels and weed growth that is normally covered when they are full. These conditions haven’t stopped many of the diehard fishers who got out there in the elements and have come up with ways to overcome some of these hurdles, with some great reward.

Lake Wendouree is number one on the radar, but it’s not a simple walk in the park; to catch a fish there takes an enormous amount of work behind the scenes to ensure that not only us as fishers are able to use the lake during the summer months. The Ballarat City Council currently employs three fulltime weed cutters to harvest the weed out of the lake. Sometimes, it seems they are fighting a losing battle with the current climatic conditions ideal for weed to grow. The council, in conjunction with Central Highlands Water supply every drop of excess water into the lake to ensure it doesn’t go dry like a few years ago, as Lake Wendouree is the biggest asset Ballarat has, not just for fishing but also for other waters sports and leisure activities.

The lake has fished exceptionally well, which has been a surprise as normally at the height of summer only early morning, evening and after dark have yielded results. This could have a lot to do with the two-year rainbow trout stockings that were released into the lake back at the start of November for the oceanic flyfishing championships. I would say 90% of the fish that have currently been caught are rainbow trout.

Wayne Atkinson and son Anthony are keen flyfishers and part of a group that regularly flyfish at Lake Wendouree after dark out of boats or float tubes. If you drive around after dark you might catch a glimpse of them by the red lights flashing on the rear of their float tubes for safety. Wayne mentioned things have slowed a little with the warmer weather, but they still average 2-3 trout each per session. The anglers head out just on dark and normally finish fishing around the 10.30pm mark, but if the fish are on the chew they stay out longer. Wayne said the killer fly pattern is a rabbit fur mudeye pattern, which obviously represent the mudeyes that the trout feed on at this time of the year. Wayne and the guys have tried a few different variations to the killer fly pattern like tying in rubber legs to give the pattern a little more movement. He has reported that this modification has been successful paired with a slow retrieve.

Father and Son team Steve and Nathan Angee have cracked onto the trout on Wendouree, fishing mudeye out of a boat suspended under bubble floats. They anchor in clear water with no weed in the evening and drift their bait. A great session saw them catch eleven brown and rainbow trout all caught and released. The main share of the fish caught has been rainbow trout around the 2.5lb mark, and they fight like mad.

Lake Wendouree is very versatile water to fish and anglers have also caught fish on bait. I recently had a session trolling lures with my three boys in the main rowing channel with great success. We trolled the new bullet spawning brown trout lures floating and sinking them very close to the back of the boat, because of how shallow the water is. There are areas in the channel that have excessive weed growth that fowl up the lures, which affects how naturally the lure presents in the water. There are some areas free from weed and we concentrated our efforts on them with excellent results, catching some feisty 2.5lb rainbow trout. If you aren’t careful these fish will take you around the floating lane markers that line the main rowing channel, which has unravelled even battle-hardened anglers. Losing fish is part of the sport though, so chin up! My son Will bagged two beautiful rainbow trout during the session, with a couple of other hook-ups and drop-offs.

Newlyn Reservoir continues to fish well for those anglers that put in the hard yards and wade through the ribbon weed to cast lures into the open weed free water. Mudeyes fished suspended under bubble floats have worked well in the same areas. John Greengrass is one such angler, who loves nothing more than to tackle the elements and put in the hard yards. John has nailed some great sized redfin on the redfin 5.0 minnow pattern bullet lure. John describes it as the killer lure on the reddies at Newlyn. John fishes this lure with confidence, which I believe makes all the difference.

Moorabool Reservoir has quietened off recently mainly due to anglers not wanting to wade through the muddy banks. I’ve heard on the angling grapevine that the redfin are still on the chew with lots of smaller specimens and the odd thumper caught on lures, the humble old garden worm, and yabby fished on a running sinker rig. Evenings and at first light have been the most productive times to catch these fish.

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