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Cracking Start to the Season
  |  First Published: October 2016



Trout fishing season has started off with a bang – great news for the anglers around the Ballarat district. Even better news is that most of our waters are either full and overflowing, or getting very close. This hasn’t happened for a few years and the threat of another heartbreaking drought is fresh in our minds from a few years ago. Hopefully, the rain continues to fall throughout spring, and all waters get to the stage of overflowing.

The fishing has really fired up around the district with most waters producing lovely fish. The fishing will only get better over the next few months, as we see the weather warm up and insects hatch. Trout really start to feed up from their winter slumber, especially over newly flooded shorelines. Food will be abundant, worms, grubs and more will be flooded out and easy prey for hungry trout.

Fishing in the district over the coming months should be absolutely awesome. The only issue is picking a fish – something that hasn’t happened for a few years. Victorian Fisheries and local volunteers have been stocking rainbow and brown trout in most of the waters in the district, which is great news. Some waters have been stocked in hope they receive the much needed spring rains to fill them up – a win for anglers and a great use of money raised from our fishing licences.

Lake Wendouree is starting to fire up, with mixed reports from anglers doing well and others struggling. Lake Wendouree’s water level is full and overflowing, which is great to see. The weed cutters are still harvesting from the lake and have cut as close to the shoreline as possible. This is great for the shore-based anglers. As a result of this weed cutting, anglers have caught some cracking fish from the shore.

Local Wendouree guru Ben Young has been nailing fantastic brown trout up to 6.5lb, casting soft plastics from the walking tracks around Lake Wendouree. Ben has been catching and releasing his fish recently. Early in the morning, before the sun comes up seems to be the best time. The plastics doing the damage are only new on the scene, Westin ShadTeez brook trout pattern in a 9cm size. Big lure, big fish – that’s the theory.

Shane Jeffrey, another keen angler, has been flyfishing Wendouree out of a drifting boat with some success. One session rewarded Shane with four trout. The biggest was a lovely 52cm brown trout on an Olive Magoo fly pattern. Flyfishers Ian Penberthy and Cam Griffin have been having success from the shore, during the day and after dark. Cam recently managed to wrestle a 7lb male brown trout on a Craig’s Nighttimes fly pattern after dark. Ian has landed some magnificent browns up to 5lb as well, on smelt fly imitations during the day. Lake Wendouree will only get better for flyfishers with warmer weather and insects hatching, as local mudeyes start to move around as well.

Young guns Ben Cochrane and Jayden White-Powell have been getting amongst the brown and rainbow trout on Wendouree as well. The guys have been casting hardbodied lures out of a drifting boat. The most successful lure has been the Bullet Minnow Christmas beetle pattern.

I’ve been having luck using the same method casting hardbodies from the boat. Overcast, windy days have produced the best results. Finding fish has been the hard part, but once you find them, you’ve a good chance of catching a few. The lure doing damage for me is a customised Norries B74 lure, using a slow roll retrieve.

Lake Wendouree over the coming months will be one of the go to places to fish in Western Victoria. Angler numbers will be high. With so many waters being nearly full, anglers will have a lot of choice for waters to fish in the district. Lake Wendouree is appealing as you can use all methods of angling, whether it’s bait, lure, fly or plastics. Shore or boat anglers are catered for, with four different boat ramps located around the shorelines.

Newlyn Reservoir is back on the map, full of water. Absolutely magnificent brown trout have been caught out there last month. I’ve landed some cracking fish up to 56cm, and Shane Jeffrey has landed browns on fly as well. Tom Kulcyznski has been nailing these lovely browns on lures – the fish seem to be about the same size, 4-5lb.

Newlyn looks awesome at the moment as the water is up over flooded grass, bushes and shrubs. Fish are in close, feeding on whatever has been flooded. Fishing over the coming months should be fantastic for flyfishers, bait anglers and casting lures or plastics.

Hepburn Lagoon, ‘Heppy’, is full to the brim and overflowing – a familiar story. I’ve heard no reports from Heppy as yet, but it’s worth a look. The only issue I see for this water is that it got low over the summer. How many fish survived over that time is unknown, but I’m sure there’ll be quite a few. Heppy is well stocked with 5000 rainbow and brown trout released every year. Hepburn is a shore-based fishery, which is easily accessed from the southeastern and northwestern shorelines. Anglers using flies, baits, lures and plastics are all in with a chance to catch a quality fish.

Moorabool Reservoir is water well worth looking at over the next few months. Moorabool’s water level is rising, though not as much as other waters in the district. The reservoir’s water is creeping over very grassy banks and shorelines, so it looks fishy to me. I’ve had a few trips out there to flyfish and have only managed to land one fish, but I’ve had a few other chances. I’d put it on my list of waters to fish over the spring months, as the reservoir has been heavily stocked with trout over the past few years. Moorabool holds a good population of redfin as well. For anglers headed out to fish Moorabool, a good old bunch of worms on a running sinker would be hard to go past.

1

Ben Young with a magnificent brown trout of 6.5lb prior to release, caught on soft plastic, in Lake Wendouree.

Photo Courtesy of Ben Young

2

Shane Jeffrey snagged this lovely 52cm brown trout using fly.

Photo Courtesy of Shane Jeffrey

3

Jayden White-Powell with a lovely Lake Wendouree brown trout, caught casting a Bullet Minnow hardbodied lure.

Photo Courtesy of Ben Cochrane

4

The author with Lake Wendouree brown trout that nailed a customised hardbodied lure.

5

The author with a beautiful golden coloured brown trout, from Newlyn Reservoir.

6

Moorabool Reservoir brown trout, caught by the author flyfishing using a Tom Jones fly pattern.

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