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Rethink your tactics
  |  First Published: May 2016



This time of year is a transition period for trout anglers. Many are already out looking for the big fellas, working the shallows and covered banks for marauding fish on the hunt for a feed

This is where tactical changes need to be implemented, as these fish not only become wary but wise up quickly as well. Where you would normally use a diving or sub surface lure to entice deeper fish, a surface lure retrieved to bank or boat usually brings on a strike or follow. Reverse your thinking as to where the fish are feeding, in summer the insects are blown in at the top end of a lake and the trout are usually there waiting! In winter the trout will be at the bottom end of a lake where the weed collects and can often be seen skirting the edge of such places for an easy feed. Work the wind lanes from bank or boat, as big trout love to cruise these areas.

LAKE FYANS

Redfin have started to school here and the numbers are becoming consistent now for anglers targeting these lovely eating fish. As the colder water spurs them into action and the weed growth ceases we will see some terrific trolling action. Reddies won’t be the only species rustled up, as the bigger trout in here will also rise to a surface lure. There will be some trophy fish out of Fyans this winter. It’s been a long road to recovery, and with plenty of fishing pressure due to surrounding lakes dying off, the stocking here has kept many anglers entertained. Rainbows and browns were liberated here at various sizes and are thriving, so expect Fyans to pull some big surprises over the winter!

LAKE WARTOOK

Dropping water levels have not been kind to the lake but Wartook has still produced some great fish and will continue to do so all winter. Reddies haven’t been as abundant over summer but they could make a late appearance leading into the colder months and school in May or early June for a brief period, but the window of opportunity will be slim. The trout will become very active here in the coming weeks and bank and boat anglers should find themselves willing fish as they become hungry and search more ground for a feed. Mudeyes or minnows/gudgeon fished under a bubble float is the best method in the brighter times of the day but darker conditions are ideal for trolling or cast/retrieve styles of fishing.

TAYLORS LAKE

Some lovely fish have been landed here including several cod over the metre mark, with many smaller fish captured as well, but the best option has been to target golden perch. Prior to Easter the yellas decided to switch on and have since delighted many from both the bank and boat. Yabbies fished on the bottom on either a paternoster rig or running sinker rig have done well. The cod have been taken using most of the usual methods including spinnerbaits, deep diving hardbodies, yabbies, and grubs fished on the bottom. Work the timbered areas and the rocky ledges. However, you can catch them in open water, therefore if you find the bait you’ll find the fish.

WIMMERA RIVER

Golden perch thrive here and have become a regular catch for anglers who put the time in and source good bait prior to a visit – yabbies and scrub worms are ideal here. Location-wise it’s important to look for structure or overhanging trees as these fish are mostly ambush predators laying in wait for a passing feed. Spinnerbaits,slow trolled or cast lures as well as plastics should see you hooked up if worked in the right areas. Cod have been a little quiet of late but may make another strong surge between now and the closed season. Redfin should be a viable option at this time of year as they tend to school and roam the edges. Baits as per above or flashy lures should entice a hit.

LAKE TOOLONDO

Unfortunately the lake has become so low it’s almost impossible to launch here in anything other than a small tinny. The fish to the best of my knowledge have pulled through but have gone back in condition due to very warm water temperatures over the summer – stress levels would have been very high. Let’s just wait and see if the rains turn up and the fish spring back to action.

ROCKLANDS RESERVOIR

As with most lakes, Rocklands has suffered the same fate with water levels dropping fast to supply downstream users and provide stock and domestic water. Although now at a four year low it continues to fish well on the higher barometer days for redfin and trout. Some bass are being taken but I suspect as water temperatures drop they will become a rare catch over winter. Carp continue to pester every bait that lands in the water but provide many hours of fun for kids and big kids too! The trout here may get a little more pressure this winter and if spring and summer catches are any indication, there’s some monsters to be had. I lost a brown weeks ago that would have been in excess of 75cm – one of the bigger fish I’ve seen for some time. Stick to the timber lines and drop-offs for best results trolling for reddies and trout, for the bass, target the structure as they are never too far from cover.

LAKE BELLFIELD

Once again Bellfield has turned on some lovely fish over the past few months and I expect that to continue right through the winter months with the chance of some very good chinook salmon emerging as the temperatures drop right off. Stocked around three years ago now, they have been a rare catch but if the progress in the Camperdown crater lakes is any indication, then we should see some fish of 2kg+ being taken soon. Brown and rainbow trout also inhabit this lake, as well as a healthy population of redfin. The reddies tend to be on the small side but the occasional bigger fish is landed. With good bank access in a lot of areas it’s a picturesque lake with potential. Not usually on the radar of the serious anglers due to lack of reports/exposure as well as an electric motor only policy, I think it may become a lake of the future if managed carefully.

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