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Spring into prime time
  |  First Published: November 2016



We’ve had a big start to spring fishing in the Ballarat district. Rain continues to fall and most of our lakes and fisheries are full to overflowing. This hasn’t happened since late 2010. Hopefully the rain continues, as some of the waters in the western district and west of state still need a lot of water to bring them back to 2010 conditions.

Our river systems have had a very good flush out, which is great news. With the abundant amount of food that’s been flooded out around all the lake margins, which haven’t been full for years, there’ll be a smorgasbord for the foraging trout. They’ll put on plenty of weight over the coming months.

A lot of our waterways will be slightly discoloured due to the amount of water that flushed into them. This will not stop the trout from feeding. Big trout will move from their comfort zone in deeper water into the shallows because of the food supply, so it’s time to get out there and make the most of this opportunity. This weather pattern doesn’t happen every year, so like the old saying, ‘make hay while the sun shines’.

Lake Wendouree is the top lake in the district at the moment with excellent catches of both rainbow and brown trout being caught. Flies, baits, lures and plastics are all catching fish at the moment. The lake is over full and a big win for anglers wishing to fish Wendouree at the moment. Weed harvesters have been able to get in very close to the shoreline, which means we have nearly 6km of fishable shore.

Ben Young has had his boys out trolling Nories B74 lures and recorded excellent catches. The best was a cracking 58cm brown trout caught by young Jakey – probably one of the best conditioned brown trout you would see caught and released from Wendouree.

Flyfishers have started to catch quality fish. Luke Barby loch-style flyfished out of a boat and snagged some magnificent browns stripping wet fly patterns, Killer pattern an Olive Magoo. Shane Jeffrey has also been rewarded flyfishing from the shore. He caught some awesome browns as well – up to 5lb – once again stripping the Olive Magoo fly pattern.

Over the next few months, flyfishing in Wendouree should really fire up with the much anticipated mayfly hatches. Every year they seem to be increasing, since the lake went dry a few years ago. Hopefully this year Lake Wendouree reverts back to its glory days of Victoria’s premier mayfly fishery.

Damien Keirl and his young daughter Lesinda have been spending quality time fishing mudeyes suspended under bubble floats around Lake Wendouree shorelines. They’ve had excellent results nailing some lovely brown trout. The baitfishing will only get better over the coming months as the trout turn the feeding patterns towards mudeyes that live in the weeds in Lake Wendouree. Morning, noon and night are the most productive times to fish bait on Wendouree, especially on overcast days when trout really come on the chew.

Newlyn Reservoir is full and overflowing with water slightly discoloured. This has not deterred the hungry trout that are gorging themselves on worms and grubs that were flooded out of the ground. Jayden white has nailed some lovely trout casting the pacey’s perch pattern Bullet Lures up to 3lb. Other reports are of anglers catching quality browns up to 5lb casting lures. Over the next few months the sky’s the limit for Newlyn Reservoir, whether you flyfish, cast lures or fish bait.

Hepburn Lagoon is the mystery bag amongst our fisheries in the district, as the water level got very low. We don’t know how many fish survived over the summer period. Now like other waters full and overflowing, Heppy has been restocked with brown and rainbow trout, which are only small. We’re relying on the residents that survived from last year and previous years – that’s where the mystery comes into play.

Heppy looks absolutely magnificent with the water being crystal clear and full of food. Hopefully those resident fish come in around the shallow margins to feed on abundant stick caddis, nymphs, snails and mudeyes. Hepburn Lagoon is a shore-based fishery with the main access points being on the Eastern, Western and Northern shorelines.

The best methods to use are baitfishing with mudeyes under floats and a bunch of garden worms fished on a running sinker rig, or flyfishing nymphs, Tom Jones, Mayfly, Woolly Buggers, Mrs Simpson, Craig’s Night Times and Muddler Minnow fly patterns. For anglers fishing lures, spoons and wobblers are excellent at this time of the year.

Tullaroop Reservoir is overflowing, with kilometres of grass filled shorelines and fish in amongst the grass, rushes and bushes feeding on everything that moves. Tullaroop this spring could produce some awesome fishing as the big browns and rainbows come into the shallows to feed. The water is discoloured at the moment, but this won’t stop feeding fish. Anglers casting flies, lures and fishing baits could catch some monsters in the coming months.

Moorabool Reservoir is probably the only reservoir around Ballarat that’s not full. I’m sure over the coming months it will fill. After spending plenty of time fishing out there over the winter months, the water has risen over grassy bays and shorelines, and some of the grass is up to 3ft high, which means food, food and more food. Trout will cruise in amongst these flooded shorelines eating grubs and worms – they’ll be hard to catch, with the humble old garden worm being the best bait to use.

This season in Ballarat brings exciting times to anglers able to fish lots of waters that are full and stocked by Fisheries – something that hasn’t happened for a few years now.

1

Cracking Lake Wendouree brown trout caught by Jakey Young under guidance from Day Ben.

Photo courtesy of Ben Young

2

Luke Barby with an awesome Lake Wendouree brown trout caught Loch-style flyfishing.

Photo courtesy of Luke Barby

3

Shane Jeffrey, shore based flyfishing Lake Wendouree, landed this magnificent brown trout on a Magoo fly pattern.

Photo courtesy of Shane Jeffrey

4

Father and daughter fishing team, Damien and Lesinda Keirl with a lovely Lake Wendouree brown trout caught on a mudeye.

Photo courtesy of Damien Keirl

5

Jayden White caught this lovely brown trout from Newlyn Reservoir casting a Pacey’s Perch pattern Bullet Lure.

Photo courtesy of Jayden White

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