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  |  First Published: March 2017



How time flies! It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was reporting on trout opening in September, and now here we are in March, the start of autumn!

Before I talk about March fishing in the Wangaratta area, firstly here’s a quick recap of how the fishing has been.

This summer has been the best summer on memory for cod fishing in the Wangaratta area. I have caught stacks of both Murray and trout cod. I even caught my personal best Murray cod on a surface lure!

It wasn’t just me that had a ripper of a summer, many people I spoke to also spoke of the great Murray cod fishing around Wangaratta.

Up in the hills it took a while for Lake William Hovell to start firing and produce a few redfin, but they should fish better in autumn and I will go more into that further on. The trout fishing has been much better than most summers due to intermittent rain events.

So it has been a great summer of fishing, and now as we head into autumn, here is my forecast for March.

Murray cod

March usually see’s the beginning of a slowing down of the Murray cod fishing. Some years they slow down during February, and other years they bite red hot until late March and early April. This is largely due to the weather and related water temperatures. As soon as we start getting those cooler and longer nights the water temperatures start to drop and the cod’s metabolism slows right down, causing them to feed less frequently.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. March is when the water begins to start cooling, and the cod begin to start slowing down, but they are usually still quite active and willing to take a lure for most of the month.

I do a lot of my cod fishing of an evening. I love to sneak out after tea in summer and fish for around two hours up until dark. I usually use a subsurface lure until sunset and then switch to a surface lure for the last hour of the day. Using this system I average probably three to five Murray cod an evening. Sometimes I catch none, and other times I catch eight to nine. Usually they are all small fish in the areas that I fish.

In March I still expect to catch cod frequently, but my expectation might drop to two to three fish, or even one to two fish later in the month as the fish feed less frequently leading to the active fish being harder to find.

April is the greatest transition month when the fish slow down the most in the Wangaratta area and I will talk more about that next month.

So in a nutshell, if you’re planning on heading to the Wangaratta area during March for some cod fishing, do not be disappointed if you do not catch any cod, and do not be surprised if you catch 20 in one day, because March can really turn the fishing on as quickly as it can turn it off.

I am looking forward to some great sessions in March this year.

Trout

Thanks to consistent rainfall throughout winter, I am actually quite excited about the autumn trout fishing. I expect to see some larger trout caught than other years as they will have fed more often this summer. This is thanks to increased flows leading to better water conditions enabling them to feed more regularly, and the fact that we have had huge amounts of grasshoppers around this summer.

Stream flows should be really good as the creek and river levels have remained higher than average all summer. Even many of the more seasonal creeks have continued to flow all summer this year.

Redfin

In late summer, the redfin fishing had just started to pick up in Lake William Hovell. I caught a nice one around 30cm long there in February trolling a Halco Crazy Deep lure, and my mate Lindsay Knowles and I caught 30 or so small redfin the same day, all caught on Strike Tiger Nymph soft plastics in the new orange spawn colour.

As a by-catch, I also caught a few small rainbow trout that day, approximately 20cm long. This was a welcome surprise and also a fantastic indication of what might be ahead this autumn and winter for Lake William Hovell.

Autumn is the best time of the year to fish for redfin in Lake William Hovell and some of my most memorable redfin catches have been in late March.

March is still a bit early to target trout in Lake William Hovell, however towards the end of the month, later in the day and in the evening it may just be worth trolling a small winged lure along the steep shaded western edge of the lake to try and pick up an early trout.

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