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Stocking mishap brings smiles
  |  First Published: November 2016



Rain has drenched North East Victoria (and the rest of the state) throughout September, leading to widespread flooding. This is short-term pain for long-term gain in the Ovens River catchment.

Throughout September, the trout fishing has been very good in the upper reaches of the catchment. Some anglers have found the fishing tough due to the high water, however most anglers, or at least the most experienced anglers, have had an awesome start to the season.

Most inexperienced anglers with less than 5 years of fishing experience are in unfamiliar territory fishing in these flooded creeks and rivers, which are carrying the most water that they have carried since March 2011.

The law of averages suggests that by November the streams should all be settling nicely. Given the enormous amounts of rainfall that we have had, I dare say that even the small streams will have great flows of water this November, which is just fantastic.

With the increased flows comes increased food. More worms get washed into the system with each rain event, and there are more aquatic invertebrates than usual and more microorganisms coming from submerged grass growth as it breaks down.

As a result of the increased food, we should see some fantastic growth rates for trout in the streams this spring. I have already caught trout this spring that have been in great condition. Once November comes, with a decent flow of water and other food sources becoming available such as grasshoppers and mudeyes, which should be abundant this year. Things are looking great for trout fishing this November!

If you’re chasing trout, try the Ovens River upstream of Bright. If we get a lot of rain leading up to November and the Ovens River is really high, try the Buckland River or the Buffalo River above Lake Buffalo. Although large, these rivers are a bit more manageable during high water flows and both have good numbers of trout in them.

The King River around Cheshunt has declined as a trout fishery since the removal of the willow trees has allowed the water to warm up too much. There are still a few trout in there, but not a huge amount. On a positive note, less trout in a river usually leads to larger trout, and I have already heard of one 4lb brown being lost in the King River at Cheshunt this spring.

Upstream above Lake William Hovell there is a fantastic number of both brown and rainbow trout in the King River. A four-wheel drive is required to access the King River above Lake William Hovell, or a total lack of respect for your two-wheel drive… In that section of King River, there is easily accessible water for a few kilometres just upstream of Lake William Hovell. There is also access much further upstream in the headwaters via Mt Cobbler or Mt Stirling. These upper reaches, around Pineapple Flat and King River Hut, offer some superb trout fishing – some of the best in the state in my opinion!

That area is subject to seasonal road closures though, so it may pay to check with Parks Victoria as to whether the gates are open or not before you plan your trip.

Between Top Crossing Hut (Near Lake William Hovell) and Pineapple Flat, there is kilometres of rarely accessed water in the King River, where only the diehard trout anglers with a super keen sense of adventure dare to go…. and reap the rewards for their efforts!

Around Wangaratta, I am predicting that the Ovens and King rivers will still be higher than usual, however they should be fishable to bait anglers drowning a bait in an attempt to catch a carp.

Remember that the Murray cod season remains closed for the entire month of November, and it is illegal to target Murray cod during this time.

Now for some super exciting news! Victorian Fisheries has committed to stocking 50,000 golden perch into the Ovens River at Wangaratta! In recent times, I have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of ‘catchable’ fish species in Wangaratta. For years we have only had Murray cod, which is great for sport anglers, but no good for kids, families and spring time anglers.

Recently, I gave fisheries Victoria some feedback from many of Wangaratta’s licensed anglers, and fisheries listened, took our concerns on board, and have come up with a solution.

It is unclear exactly when the golden perch stockings will take place, as it’s subject to availability. It’s also unclear whether they will be stocked in one lump sum, or over several smaller stockings.

What is clear is that for the first time since 1995, golden perch will be stocked into the Ovens River to provide angling opportunities to licensed anglers, with the hope that the stocking may start around Christmas time this year.

On a side note… Wangaratta has just had its first ever taste of family friendly fishing. Something I have been working towards for a long time is to get yearling rainbow trout stocked into Merriwa Park, particularly during the winter school holidays. The pond that I had suggested is the deep pond behind the lawn tennis courts.

Well… they were stocked just in time for the September school holidays, but through a slight mishap! They were put into the wrong pond. Instead they were stocked into the pond next to the kindergarten.

This proved to be extremely popular with locals flocking to the pond to fish for these yearling rainbow trout. I doubt that this pond will be stocked again, but I am seriously hoping that the Wangaratta council can see the positive benefits that this fish stocking has had on the young people and families here in Wangaratta, and allow Victorian Fisheries to continue the stocking into next winter.

Victorian Fisheries are as keen as mustard to stock this pond and develop it into a family friendly fishery to add to the growing list of these fantastic little waterways, so am I, and so are the kids! Let’s hope that the Wangaratta council does not let everyone down.

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