Settle in for a fish in the lakes
  |  First Published: October 2016

Our local rivers could either be picture-perfect, dirty or in flood. The late winter and early spring rains have made it hard to predict what’ll happen in October. If we get rain, I hope it’s not all at once. When the rivers have had a couple weeks to settle down, with some rain, it’ll be perfect time to chase Broken River yellowbelly. There are three areas that are best when we get spring rain – the weirs along the Broken and below the lake in Benalla.

Flowing water downstream of these areas is perfect for springtime fishing, but you have a window of two or three days before they get too dangerous to fish, with water being too high. If the rivers stay high in October, there are plenty of areas closer to Shepparton in the Broken River, around the walking bridge near Broken River Drive and near the train bridge. Plenty of sharp bends in these areas can have back eddies where the fish sit. It’s easy to target these areas when the river is flowing and the lure or bait stays in the strike zone for longer.

If the water is steady and we don’t get much rain or environmental flows, the Goulburn’s a good option. Baitfishers would do best in the Goulburn. Out at Raftery Road, there’s plenty of good bank access and live bait. There are endless areas to fish with sandbars, snags, weed areas and deep bends, all within walking distance of each other. If the river is flowing or dirty, stay away from the Goulburn, as it doesn’t fish as well as the Broken on a sharp rise.

Kialla Lakes

The Lake system is rebounding again. In 2015, Kialla Lakes had no action. I think this has to do with more people fishing the lake, and also the better water conditions. The brown, still looking swamp is a lot cleaner now, and the fish are looking healthier as well.

I caught many fish early this year that were more white and milky looking. The last couple of fish have been a darker shade and actually look like yellowbelly. The hot spot seems to be near the crossover from lakes 1-2. There are anglers fishing it daily, and mostly with bait. With lures, I tend to fish around the willows, small sandbars and rocks. I try to fish the edges of these areas and have had the most success doing so. If you have a kayak or canoe, target the island as it holds some big fish.

Local Channels

The channel system should be nice and clean with all the early spring rain and flows settling down. With locals looking for a fishing fix in the closed cod season, I suggest the channels. Lures or bait work well and exploring new channels has really been productive for anglers. In years gone past, the old outlet channel produced good amounts of yellowbelly. The inlet and outlet channels at Waranga Basin always fish well in the spring. I find the best lure when searching new areas is the Jackall TN50 – it seems to catch fish in any water. Once you find them, you can chop and change lures to upsize fish.

If you’re using bait worms and shrimp, around any structure will work best. Floating shrimp under bridges can be very successful in the spring months. If you’re not keen to leave the Shepparton area, the main eastern area around Pine Lodge is still producing fish, and it does almost all year round.

Shepparton Lake

Shepparton Lake has dropped right off again and it’s very difficult to fish due to weeds. Shepparton are hosting the 2016 Teachers Games and the fishing section will be held from the lake. It’ll be interesting to see what fish are entered in that event. PowerBait Salmon Eggs in orange are still proving to be a hit in the Shepp Lake. There are reports of bag limits being collected quite easily. For those targeting reddies this week, casting a plastic Squidgy Bug in jelly prawn or green grunter is working well. The choice to baitfish with worms is there, but they seem to be hitting lures at the moment.

Craigmuir Lake

With the water temperature more suited for catching yellowbelly, kayakers have been enjoying themselves. They’ve been catching most fish trolling small hardbodies and lipless crankbaits. Yellowbelly up to 45cm have been reported in early September. Some anglers caught 3-4 fish in an evening on the troll.

If baitfishing, try to get your hands on some small yabbies and live shrimp. Both are dynamite on the fish in Craigmuir. There has been a lot of carp being caught of late. With all the late winter rains, they came to the edges and gorged themselves in the runoff. If you catch a carp, don’t just leave it on the bank to stink out the area.

Waranga Basin

The Basin has gone up over 40% since June and now sits at 92%, which is a hell of a lot more water! It also makes chasing the fish harder in deep water, as you now have to find lures that dive deep enough to target bottom feeding fish. The Halco Crazy Deeps are probably the best lure if chasing these fish, or you can drift and bottom bounce jigs or Jackalls. The fish may still be around the edges, but after the initial rise, they have seem to have moved off the grass flats and into deeper water. There’s an advantage to the higher water levels – on the Murchison side, there’s a few more points and drop offs well and truly underwater.

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