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Wimmera trout battle through the drought
  |  First Published: April 2016



While my time in the Wimmera has been minimal lately, due to a well-earned break chasing barra up north, the reports and stories have rolled in with anglers who are prepared to do their homework for a trip have fared well. Once again we missed out on much needed rains, but the coming months show plenty of promise with tips far and wide of the drought breaking and predicted rains set to replenish the system.

Across the Wimmera, the whole system is now floundering at around 23% and to many the rains can’t arrive quickly enough. Premier trout lake Toolondo now sits at 9%, and there has been some mortality there on the warmer days. With a maximum depth of 1.8m and crystal clear water, the pelicans and cormorants have had a feast. Sad, but this is Mother Nature doing her thing and we can only hope for a reprieve in the coming months.

TAYLORS LAKE

Fast becoming the Eildon of the Wimmera with great catches of both cod and golden perch, Taylors has seen its fair share of boat and bank angling over the warmer months. Lately the cod have played very well and I recently had the pleasure of seeing a 1.2m specimen landed by a very happy local angler. This beast was returned to fight another day and certainly stirred some interest among the doubters. Many fish within the slot limit have been landed with the odd one kept, but it’s great to see most anglers return them.

The goldens have been active at first and last light and trolling seems to be the best option – use smaller spinnerbaits and deep diving lures to entice them to hit. With a maximum depth of 6m, lure selection is critical and bouncing the bottom with them is paramount. Carp, redfin and silver perch are also an option, proving Taylors to be a great fishery, hopefully for many years to come with careful management and stocking.

LAKE FYANS

Without doubt Lake Fyans is the prime trout lake throughout the region, with some sensational fish on offer over the last few months. As the water temperatures cool with the onset of autumn, we should see some great browns landed using most methods. The cooler water will also see the big redfin swing into action, as the large girls become hungry and chase that pre-winter feed they require while brooding eggs. Rainbows still dominate the catch rate here, and with many of the October ex-brood stock still around, fishers have been delighted with numbers. Mudeye under a bubble float has been the most reliable method for all fish here for many years now, but soft plastics worked around trees and weed beds have also produced. Trolling accounts for many fish here, and it’s important to mix your lure selection up with shallow and mid water runners for best results. Doing this will also increase your chances of snagging a big reddy on the deeper diver.

LAKE BELLFIELD

Not normally a target lake for trout stalkers, Bellfield is fast becoming a great option as catches are revealed and numbers of fish increase. Holding both browns and rainbows as well as many redfin and some great chinook salmon, Bellfield has become a go-to lake for anglers in the know. Being an electric-powered vessel only lake means it doesn’t get pressured as much as nearby Fyans or Wartook, and has become a favourite for kayakers. The mainstay here has been some very nice rainbow trout averaging 1.7kg. These have been caught mainly by cast or troll. Recently, one unlucky local lost a monster brown at his feet after a 15 minute battle because he forgot to pack his landing net!

ROCKLANDS
RESERVOIR

With the water still dropping to a four year low of around 16%, the fishing has been a little slow and anglers have struggled to trouble the scorers. I’ve said for a long time that there are two requirements for Rocklands to fish consistently – a higher barometer of around 1020 and above, and stable water levels. Sure there’s plenty of smaller redfin on offer, but the larger fish seem to take a dive when these two key elements aren’t aligned.

Trout have started to become more aggressive of late and contrary to popular belief there are some absolute stonkers to be targeted here if you use the right methods. As with all trout fisheries, the ever-reliable mudeye under a float is best but if you target them with shallow and mid-running hardbodies you will find them as well. Cast into structure for the best results, as these big models hang off trees stalking and waiting for an opportune feed. Bass have also been active and a good by-catch taken mainly by trolling Stumpjumpers intended for redfin. These hard fighting little natives are never too far from structure or rock ledges and give a great account of themselves on light tackle.

WIMMERA RIVER

Once again, the river has produced very well over the summer with native fish thriving. Goldens, cod and catfish are the most regular catches, apart from the ever-present carp. Most of the goldens are around the 900g mark and the cod have varied in size from new releases to fish in excess of 80cm. Redfin should become more active as the water starts to cool and become a welcome by-catch. Catfish are more common now, with better flows and management of the waterway to the extent that the Horsham Angling Club hold twilight competitions for them on a regular basis. Best baits here have been yabbies and worms, but a few nice fish have also been landed on spinnerbaits and hardbody lures. Jackalls and rattling lures work well around the snags and deeper edges.

TOOLONDO
RESERVOIR

The lake is at a four-year low of 9% and looking very sad, with the only anglers able to access it being those in small tinnies and kayaks. Reports of a few fish dying came in recently, so we are hoping for a change and autumn kicking in early to produce rains to rejuvenate the lake. Another dry winter will see the demise of Toolondo and another great fishery lost.

LAKE CHARLEGRAK

After getting off to a flying start at the opening of cod season, the reports have all but dried up here with anglers struggling to land a fish. Whole yabbies, scrub worms and cheese have been the prime baits and a night fish has produced the best catches. With a maximum depth of around 2m this is another lake desperate for rainfall and inflows.

LAKE WARTOOK

Although not delivering the expected big numbers of fish this year, which I suspect is due to varying levels, Wartook has been consistent for most of the year with fish being landed by most anglers. Trout of both species dominate catches and have been taken using most methods. Mudeye once again has performed as the prime bait, but a few were landed on peeled yabby tail fished on a running sinker rig on the bottom. The reddies school deep here and can be frustrating to land otherwise. Sounding them up in schools is the easy part, tempting the normally aggressive reddies is another story.

A live bait of minnow or gudgeon dropped among a school is the best method. Ice jigs or heavily rigged soft plastics can also stimulate the bite and spur the school into action. Trolling diving lures is a good way to locate the schools but many have said this year has produced individual fish on the troll rather than the normal double hook ups.

• Enquiries to Trevor on 0438 132 130 or 03 5388 1338. Catch us on Facebook ‘Victorian Inland Charters’ or check our web site www.victorianinlandcharters.com.au

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