Chuffed with Chinooks
  |  First Published: February 2017

Right now is the best time to tackle our sweetwater lakes and rivers thanks to the below average weather we have experienced for much of the year.

Anglers can still launch a boat at Lake Elingamite near Cobden and Lake Tooliorook near Lismore. Of course, if we fail to receive a reasonable amount of rainfall in autumn this could mean a wait of a few months until the winter rains have set in.

Meanwhile, our summer hasn’t contained many hot days to date, which not only increases evaporation, but warms the water and can easily send our trout and salmon down deep. This is downrigging territory only. This hasn’t fully happened yet, but when it does, it may not last as long as it has in previous years.

Lake Purrumbete continues to offer up trophy trout; not in huge numbers, but for those who show patience and perseverance, and fish in low light or night time hours. There’s been browns topping 5kg available.

Presenting bait such as local minnow or gudgeon, as well as mudeye under a bubble float close to the weed beds, has been successful. Casting or trolling a wide variety of minnow lures from the edge of the weed beds out into around 6m has also accounted for some nice trout.

Lake Bullen Merri has experienced a real fishing bonanza when it comes to Chinook salmon. From late November onwards these fish have invaded the shallows big time in search of schools of minnow and gudgeon. Ranging from newly released fish barely measuring 30cm, all the way up to specimens pushing the 60cm, these fish caught either on bait, soft plastics or lures. Many anglers either working from the bank or out of a boat have caught well over a dozen fish in a single session, including myself.

Trolling minnow lures has to be the most popular method recently. Depending on the time of day and cloud cover, the Chinooks have been caught in depths as shallow as 3m, and that’s very close to the bank. From there out to 6m depth is where most anglers are concentrating their efforts.

Lake Tooliorook has seen plenty of rainbow trout to over 40cm caught, as well as the odd pan-sized redfin. Trolling minnow lures or presenting bait under a float have been the most popular methods. However, this lake is also popular with fly anglers either walking the bank or working from a drifting boat.

Lake Elingamite has browns and rainbows currently well over 30cm eating almost anything that comes their way. The warm weather here has certainly fired up the reddies, with many specimens coming on board well in excess of 1kg.

As previously stated, if autumn rainfall is adequate, I cannot see why this sweetwater fishing bonanza won’t continue right through into next winter.

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