Take a gamble and give the trout a shot in May!
  |  First Published: May 2016

Rug up folks, the colder weather is right on our doorsteps! Autumn has started off really well, with a lengthy spell of above average temperatures paving the way for some great early autumn cod fishing. We had rain during mid-March but it was not enough to cause the rivers to become high and dirty.

Murray Cod

Provided we do not get too much rain leading up to May we may still have some reasonable Murray cod fishing in the Ovens and King rivers this month. May is a tough time to catch cod around Wangaratta on any given year. Below average rainfall usually leads to better cod fishing during May, but even when the conditions are perfect, the fishing can still be tough as the water becomes very cold.

If you’re lure fishing, try to retrieve your lure as slowly as possible. Whether it is a surface lure, spinnerbait or hardbody lure, the slower you can retrieve it, and the longer you can leave it in the cod’s face to annoy it, the more likely the fish will be to hit the lure. I find really large hardbody lures, which are quite brightly coloured and intrusive work well during May. Something like a fluorescent coloured Number 1 Stumpjumper is a great start.

Bait fishers can’t go past bardi grubs, cheese or worms. Worms tend to catch more fish, but are also known for catching smaller fish so it may be worth persevering with a big stinking frozen bardi grub! As with lure fishing, do not head out with high expectations as after all – it is May! On a positive note, May seems to be the time of the year when we see some of the largest fish get caught for the entire year, particularly downstream of Wangaratta in the far lower reaches of the Ovens River, which are backed up by the waters of Lake Mulwala. Another positive to fishing for Murray cod in the Wangaratta area during May is that there are no snakes! I have seen the odd red-bellied black snake, but they aren’t common and are usually restricted to moving around on the warmest days in May and the middle of the day!


Trout fishing can be interesting during May. It can be red hot or they can be completely shut down. Trout begin spawning in many of the streams of North East Victoria, and continue through June and sometimes into the start of July.

Early in the month you may find some great trout fishing before the spawning really begins. The Ovens River upstream of Bright will be worth a try. As the larger fish tend to swim upstream into the smaller creeks to spawn, look for creeks that flow into the main Ovens River that you think trout may be likely to swim up and fish them. The tributaries don’t have to be big, and if we get a really wet April the trout will even swim up a seasonal flowing creek to spawn. Small tributaries in the headwaters of the Ovens River catchment are worth fishing for trout during May. So too is Lake William Hovell. I find that Lake William Hovell stands out from the crowd during May. It’s only a small lake, but every year it fishes well for trout, particularly for boat or kayak-based anglers. Try trolling winged lures anywhere around the lake, and concentrate your efforts on the low light periods of the day and in the shaded areas. During the afternoon, I find the western side of the main body of the lake is usually productive as the late afternoon shadows creep across the lake.


Once again, it is all about Lake William Hovel during May. The redfin fishing, which is usually at its best in the lake in March and April can slow down quite a bit during May, but in saying that, some of my most memorable fishing sessions on the lake have been during May.

When redfin fishing on Lake William Hovell during May you must locate the schools of larger fish. They are there, but you need to find them. The best way to do that is to drift slowly around the lake and drag your bait along the bottom, or cast soft plastics around as you drift. If it is windy, use you anchor and keep trying new spots every 10 minutes or so. I have been doing well up there this autumn with 2” Strike Tiger curl-tail grubs in whitebait pearl colour, and small yabbies for bait.

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