Trout forecast
  |  First Published: September 2016

September is on us and the trout season is about to re-open, but before we talk trout, what’s been happening in the depths of winter?

The Ovens and King rivers have been write-offs for the entire winter. Huge rainfall and snowfall in the Victorian Alps lead to widespread flooding. Lake William Hovell has ticked over slowly with a few trout caught, but nothing amazing. Lake Mulwala has seen a few Murray cod caught, a lot of crayfish, and further afield, Lake Dartmouth has been slow. The family friendly waterways have been the real standout this winter as many kids and families alike enjoyed catching rainbow trout in these annually stocked fisheries.

What can we expect in September? If the last month is anything to go by, we can expect submarines to replace cars and oldmate to recruit two of every species for his wooden boat. It’s been insanely wet. For 40 days and nights I fell asleep to the sound of rain on the roof, and then woke to the sound of rain on the roof!

The Ovens River in Wangaratta has just passed moderate flood level, and is still rising. The creeks rage with dirty water, the region’s waterfalls are spectacular and the fish will be feeding like no tomorrow, particularly trout. In September, trout fishing in the streams will be good, but tough. I’m predicting the best trout season here in northeast Victoria since 2011, but the water will be high and wading will be almost impossible in all but the tiniest of trickles.

Trout are a fast growing fish. With these flooding rains, there will be an abundance of worms in the system for them to feed on. As the rainfall arrived early this winter, there should have been an abundance of microorganisms in the streams for newly hatched trout in this year’s spawning run to feed on. These great conditions will lend themselves to a high survival rate of newly hatched trout fry as well. Big things will come this trout season, but fishing should be pretty tough due to high water.

Ovens River should fish well upstream of Porepunkah, but trout numbers will drop away the further downstream you get. Anywhere along the Buckland River should see steady trout fishing this September. The brown trout should be in better condition than the rainbow trout, which will have just finished their spawning run.

Downstream of Lake Buffalo isn’t worth fishing for trout, as it’s become more of a Murray cod fishery. Upstream of Lake Buffalo will be slow close to the lake, but should see very good trout fishing further up the valley, around Abbeyard.

Catherine River is worth a fish anywhere along its entire length. The more remote areas upstream should fish well for those keen enough to hike in. Dandongadale River should fish steadily up high in the Alpine National Park. Down closer to its junction with the Rose River it could go either way. It’s a hard section of river to predict, as some years the fishing in the lower reaches is red hot and in other years terrible. After all the rain, it will definitely be worth a shot.

Due to low flows, warm water and sections of dry river last year, trout fishing in the Rose River will be patchy. Some sections will be light on numbers and other sections will have fantastic catches. The biggest trout will be found in sections of river that seem to have very few fish, so perseverance should be rewarded.

King River should be okay upstream of Lake William Hovell, but slow downstream. Downstream of Lake William Hovell isn’t recognised as a trout water anymore. The removal of willow trees has led to more sun exposure, which has resulted in warmer water temperatures. Murray cod have pushed well upstream into the once bustling trout fishery around Cheshunt. There are still trout there, but not enough to target. Upstream is a totally different story. There are fantastic numbers of trout in the King River upstream of Lake William Hovell, particularly around Pineapple Flat and further up.

15 Mile Creek should fish well in the Toombullup State Forest upstream of the farms, but downstream in the lower reaches will be slow, as that section of creek dried up in a lot of places during summer and autumn.

Cod season is closed and the rivers will be too high to fish anyway. September is going to be all about the stream trout this year and as we head into October we may see a few redfin sneak into a few lakes. We ‘ll save that chatter for next month.


Waterfalls, such as Pine Gully Falls in the Warby-Ovens National Park, have barely flowed for five years. This winter, they have been quite a spectacle – an indication of the rainfall we received in this area.


Holly Alexander with a rainbow trout caught on a Strike Tiger Nymph in Stanley Dam, during the winter school holidays.


Hugh Blythe worked a soft plastic in Stanley Dam on a bitterly cold afternoon.


Hugh Blythe caught a nice rainbow trout on a Strike Tiger Nymph soft plastic in Stanley Dam. He’s a fantastic fisher and caught a heap of trout that afternoon, most were returned to the water for other kids to catch.


Lake Dartmouth has been fishing consistently all winter. It hasn’t been exceptional, but anglers have been picking up a couple trout for their efforts. The author caught this one in the middle of July on a day that was far from warm.

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