Drought over for Crater Lakes
  |  First Published: July 2016

Since late April up until the time of putting pen to paper I have emptied approximately 170mm of rainfall out of my gauge. This has finally put an end to the drought that we have been experiencing for many, many long months. Our rivers have begun to experience a flow coming from upstream and our lakes have certainly stopped receding and are slowly beginning to rise.

In late May, I happened to be out Lismore way, so I called in to look at Lake Tooliorook’s water levels. What I saw was not what I was expecting. By my reckoning the lake is approximately half full. I know from previous trips when the lake was much healthier that the deepest section was 5m deep. Now I could drive right down to the end of the concrete ramp and the northern jetty has a depth gauge on it. It was out of the water by 50cm and the gauge reads in increments to a total of 2m, so that means that another 2.5m of water will fill the lake.

The water level is at a point where canoes and kayaks can just comfortably get in, but as this lake has not been stocked for some years with trout, only redfin are available. You can only imagine the few redfin that are in there are on the huge side.

Very recently I ventured out for the first time this year onto Lake Bullen Merri. In the last month, trout – mainly rainbows – had been caught around the lake’s edge and sure enough, schools of fish were clearly seen on one or both of my sounders.

Add to that several largish rainbows leaping from the water as I commenced my first trolling run. Fish echoes were clearly seen in depths from 3.5-5.5m and after landing my first ‘bow early on, I thought I was in for one heck of a day, but it was not to be. One fish and one fish only for me and after talking to others out on the lake things were very quiet indeed. However on a given day, two-year-old fish approaching 2kg and one-year-old fish sitting around the 1kg mark can be a common catch.

Chinook salmon are also moving into the shallows and at the boat ramp at South Beach I spied a very large brown trout cruising around the pontoons, so browns are also available.

Flat line trolling a wide variety of medium diving minnow lures certainly does the trick. I caught my fish on a Pontoon 21 Greedy Guts 55 minnow, which I find works for me, even on a quiet day, it may just take patience and perseverance.

Local gudgeon minnow caught overnight in a trap tends to be the number one bait to use but the current health of the fish is excellent, so the fish are certainly gorging themselves, making it harder to tempt them to strike.

Lure fishing with offerings that give off good action could tip the balance in the anglers’ favour by simply annoying fully fed fish into striking.

Lake Purrumbete remains relatively quiet, however plenty of pan-sized redfin remain schooled up in depths around 10m and catching a cricket score of them in a single session is not unheard of.

Water temperatures are sitting around 14-15°C and dropping fairly quickly. When this drops under 12°C, the trout will really fire up and that day is not that far away.

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