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Red-hot or stone cold!
  |  First Published: April 2016



Summer ended on a very hot note with daytime temperatures threatening to break records. As a result, we saw some very good cod fishing in the Ovens and King rivers in the final days of summer. Hopefully, this late season burst of heat leads to a delay in the autumn cod fishing downturn that we experience each season.

Each season, April sees a typical hot and cold fishing pattern with the Murray cod in our local rivers. One day the fishing can be red hot, the next day it can be stone cold and completely dead.

The cooling of the water tends to slow down the Murray cods’ metabolism, meaning it takes much longer for them to digest food. As a result, they feed less frequently and become more of an opportunistic feeder rather than the usual summer feeding pattern where they just eat wherever and whenever they can – a bit like me at McDonalds!

What this means is that if conditions are not perfect, and the fish are not hungry, they’re less likely to hit a lure or take a bait.

If a Murray cod does not want to eat… it won’t! You can run your lure right in front of its face, and even brush the lure over the cods head, but if it doesn’t want to take it, it won’t.

So the tip for April cod fishing in the Wangaratta area is to watch the weather patterns, look for a high and stable barometer, and try and head out before an approaching cold front comes through and drops the barometer. Or, if you’re like me and work weird hours, just go out whenever time permits as often as possible and hope for the best. Eventually, you’ve got to be at the right place at the right time for a red-hot autumn cod fishing session!

April can be a great time of the year to fish for our much-prized introduced species, both trout and redfin. Let’s talk trout first.

Trout swim upstream in autumn to spawn. They are often swimming upstream for much of April as they make their way to cooler, shallower gravel-lined sections of the small streams known as a redds. A redd is the name given to the area that a trout chooses to spawn over.

During April, as the water cools right down, the trout will be swimming upstream for most of the month. This can be a very exciting time of the year to fish for trout in the Ovens River catchment.

Like Murray cod, the trout fishing can also be quite hot and cold throughout April, but for different reasons. With Murray cod, and most native species it is mainly to do with water temperatures and weather patterns, whereas with trout it is more of a hormonal thing as they prepare to spawn.

On the whole, trout fishing is much more predictable during April than Murray cod fishing in this area.

Try fishing in some smaller tributaries of the larger waterways where larger fish are likely to be swimming upstream to spawn. Some of the small creeks that flow into the upper Ovens River fit this criteria quite well. Of course, this depends largely on how much rain we get in March as there needs to be a reasonable flow of water to fish in, and for the trout to swim up.

Don’t be surprised if larger trout turn up in very popular and heavily fished sections of the waterways as they pass through on their way upstream. During April, you don’t need to venture into the remote areas as the fish from the remote areas will come to you.

I’ve always liked bright fluorescent coloured lures during April when trout fishing. Fluorescent orange and fluorescent yellow super Vibrax bladed spinners have served me very well during the autumn months over the years.

At the complete opposite of the spectrum, black lures also tend to work well, particularly early in the month when there are still plenty of crickets around.

The redfin fishing can often be red-hot during April, particularly in Lake William Hovell, which is the best redfin fishery in the catchment.

The redfin in there are usually quite small, however a few larger ones do turn up from time to time, and the cooling waters of mid autumn tend to produce the best results when targeting larger redfin.

Try bait fishing with tiny live yabbies, or fishing with small soft plastics. These can either be bobbed up and down under the boat or kayak, or can be cast and retrieved close to the bottom. This is a great technique to employ when targeting redfin from the bank in any lake that has redfin. White is my favourite colour soft plastic for redfin.

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