I think it’s fair to say the Ballarat and district anglers are very lucky to have one of the state’s best fisheries right at their doorstep. I could theoretically jump in the car and have a line in the water in about 5 minutes. How good is that?
The Lake Wendouree fishery should not be taken for granted though, as a lot of work by stake-holders goes in to ensure that we as anglers and other lake users have an excellent facility that can be accessed all year round. Most lake users will know there is a lot of weed in lake Wendouree that is harvested. Without the weed harvesting, which is carried out and paid for by the ratepayers of Ballarat, we would not be able to fish at all! In fact, you could probably walk across the lake on top of the weed – the weed would be that thick!
This year the weed harvesting has removed record tonnage in the thousands of tonnes of weed, and for whatever reason, the weed growth has not slowed and the harvesters have struggled at times to keep up with the harvesting program. We are still very lucky that we have plenty of weed free areas accessible to the land-based and the boat anglers and we’ve been reaping the rewards over the last month.
Anglers casting lures or soft plastics from either boats or the shore have scooped the pool over the last months with excellent catches of brown, rainbow trout and also redfin, although the reddies numbers have been down a bit from the previous months.
Ben Young, who is a gun angler, has been nailing plenty of quality brown trout from the boat and bank. Ben puts in lots of hours either on the way to work or the way home and also between school drop-offs and pick-ups. The key to his success is that he likes to fish overcast weather and covers plenty of water. Ben prefers speed when using both lures and plastics, and his favourite plastic is the Eccogear 3” Power Shad and for hardbodies, the Nories Laydown Minnow BR 107 pattern customised with some permanent markers. They look unreal, and yes, the fish love them too.
This time of the year, as we move right into the depths of winter, the fish are very aggressive and love to smack something with a bit of colour, as food is scarce during the winter months as most insects are dormant. Because of this, the trout mainly feed on or smelt and other small baitfish.
Nathan Angee is a young gun would have to be the keenest of young anglers that you would ever come across. I think school gets in his way sometimes and he’s usually out fishing at every opportunity he has. Nathan has been snagging some excellent browns and redfin, once again casting lures and plastics, but all from the shore. Nathan was lucky enough to snag is personal best for Wendouree recently at 60cm. This brown trout ate an Eccogear 3” Power Shad.
I have been out on the lake casting hardbodied lures and plastics in the main rowing channel with excellent results, catching and releasing some lovely rainbow and brown trout, as well as some lovely redfin. The key to success is to cover plenty of water, and fish overcast weather with plenty of wind. Sometimes the rougher the conditions, the better the fishing will be! Despite this, I always make sure that I don’t put myself or others in danger being out in rough weather.
The bait anglers have been catching there fair share of the trout and redfin in Lake Wendouree. Recently, Nick Kalkbrenner caught what I believe to be the best looking and coloured brown trout I have ever seen come out of the lake. He caught the monster 68cm and 3.5kg brown trout on PowerBait fishing from the shore. Nick fishes Wendouree a lot during the winter months, and usually uses either PowerBait or worms on a running sinker rig.
Newlyn Reservoir, like a lot of other waters at the moment, has been over shadowed by the likes of Lake Wendouree, but anglers who are willing to brave the cold wet and windy days have been rewarded for their efforts.
One such angler, Gordon Thompson, has ventured out to Newlyn, mostly midweek, to have a fish and he has been landing some lovely brown trout using mudeyes suspended under bubble floats. Gordon recorded his best trip recently where he nailed two browns at around 3lb. Gordon mentioned he was the only angler there that day and the water was low with lots of weed, but when once he cast his floats over the initial weed beds close to the shore, there was lots of clear water and the trout were cruising along the other side of the weed beds feeding. Gordon said it was like throwing candy to a child, they just grabbed the mudeye and off they went.
Newlyn normally fishes well during the winter months, with the fish mainly targeting smelt as their main food supply.
Moorabool Reservoir has been off the radar for quite a few months now with low water levels and muddy banks, and it’s not been very appealing to anglers. The winter months at Moorabool Reservoir normally fish extremely well and anglers who brave the elements are generally rewarded for their efforts.
Smelt and midge feeders are what you would be targeting, and the midge feeders are generally early morning and the smelters can feed all day, given the right weather conditions. I prefer to fly fish Moorabool during the winter months with smelt imitations or woolly buggers. The secret to fishing out at Moorabool is to cover plenty of the shoreline, always keeping an eye out for any movement or disturbance on the water. The other trick is to be patient, you might not see a fish one day and the next day the fish might all be on the chew, but that’s fishing!
For the anglers casting lures, it’s pretty much the same scenario as when I’m fly fishing. I cover plenty of water and use smelt patterns, minnow patterns or wobblers, as they seem to attract the fish. Some of the fish that reside in Moorabool are real trophy sized, so you never know what you could catch out there.
I haven’t been mentioning this dam over the last few months as a good water to fish over the winter months, as I have not heard a report about it at all. I myself have not been able to head out and wet a line so far, but over the next couple of months, I will certainly make a point to fish it.
Last year there was some awesome brown and rainbow trout caught and some true trophy fish amongst them. I believe these fish are going to be even bigger this year, and the most productive method will be casting hardbodied lures along the deeper banks and shorelines. Bright colours would be my go to, as the fish are very aggressive at this time of year.
Photo courtesy of Ben Young.
Photo courtesy of Ben Young.
Photo courtesy of Nathan Angee.Reads: 462