The end of another winter in the Wang
  |  First Published: August 2016

What an amazing start to winter we have had here in North East Victoria. The fishing has not been amazing, but the cold, dull, overcast and rainy days we have been experiencing certainly have been amazing and will lead into great fishing for most species next season.

By late June the Ovens River was flowing hard through Wangaratta. All of the creeks and streams are close to their full capacity and most of the seasonal gullies are flowing.

Sadly, this has led to fishing conditions in and around Wangaratta that can only be described as poor at best! But, there are some great options not too far away and some very exciting things on the horizon.

Firstly, the trout season closed in early June on a high note. The trout were all very active and most people who went trout fishing caught trout. There seemed to be a lot of small trout around in some of the streams, which is a fantastic sign for next season. If we get a wet winter, there will be an abundance of worms in the system and the trout will be eating like there’s no tomorrow.

As trout are one of the fastest growing species of fish in Victoria’s freshwaters, those tiny trout could be approaching a nice decent size by the time the season opens if this rain and high water flows continue. That is a positive!

Recently, my mate Shane Orr and I headed down to Lake Mulwala for a combination of crayfishing and fishing. We caught around a dozen crayfish made up of a combination of massive females and undersized males, but did not catch any legal sized males. We also managed to troll a nice 49cm Murray cod. During August, you can always head down to Lake Mulwala. So that is also a positive!

In recent weeks, Lake William Hovell has really been turning up the heat and providing some very good trout fishing. I have received several reports of trout being caught with most being trolled on Tassie Devil lures. During August this will not change. Focus your attention on the low light periods of the day like sunrise and sunset, and all day on overcast and foggy days. The moment the sun comes up, the trout will go down deeper into the clear water.

When this happens, small deep diving minnows can work, but I like the dual depth Tassie Devils that can be rigged to dive down to around 6ft or so.

The redfin fishing will be very slow in Lake William Hovel during August. No doubt a few reddies will be caught, but they will be by persistent anglers and they won’t be caught in great numbers.

I have actually seen schools of redfin in Lake William Hovell in winter, they just swim very, very slowly, and no amount of enticing with a soft plastic would get them to show any interest. Interestingly enough, some lakes fish their best for redfin in winter. They’re a hard species to work out, that’s for sure!

Closer to Wangaratta and it is hard to say what the Ovens and King rivers will be like, but at a guess I would say very high, and possibly dirty. They are high now in late June and there is more rain in the forecast.

I find that the Ovens River can be fished at high levels, provided you can find a nice slow backwater. The water level measurement for the Ovens River in Wangaratta is usually somewhere between 7.9-8.9m. The minor flood level is at 11.9m.

I can fish the Ovens River with bait right up to around 10m. The best spot to fish during high water is behind the Wangaratta showgrounds. There is a small gate behind the toilet block near the Wangaratta Magpies clubrooms that you can park near and walk through to a large backwater that is nice and calm even when the water is quite high.

I usually only catch carp at this spot, but I do catch the odd Murray cod, which are still catchable during August as the season does not close until September.

Even if the river is fishable, and the water looks great at that spot, just remember that it is August, so do not expect too much.

Exciting news

Now for the exciting news… I am not going to go into too much detail, but I have been campaigning hard to get a certain waterway in Wangaratta stocked with trout for the kids during the winter school holidays. This waterway, which I am not naming just yet, as there are still a few stakeholders to contact and hoops to jump through, will be stocked with trout in winter under the Victorian family friendly waterway banner, and will quite possibly even be stocked with yellowbelly to provide a fishing option during the spring and summer months.

It will be stocked primarily as a local fishing hole for kids on school holidays and for people with mobility issues, however, it will be open to all members of the public who hold fishing licences or an exemption from having one.

I have met with council town planners and been in direct contact with fisheries Victoria, and at this stage it is all looking good.

Hopefully I will be able to announce in full in next month’s edition exactly where it is and what is going on, but for now… just seek comfort in the knowledge that Wangaratta may very well have a year round fishing option very soon!

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