Finding yellowbelly and cod in the rivers
  |  First Published: March 2017

The past few months have been filled with a lot uncertainty surrounding the long-term effects of the black water event in January.

Speaking to many local fisher, the stories of dozens and dozens of dead fish are very concerning. I have spoken to people who believe they have statistics that show the effects are not as damaging as other black water events but have also spoken to people from the fishing industry, who are highly credentialed, and their thoughts are the complete opposite saying the majority of fish are now dead.

The black water event has made me dig deeper into our river systems. I’ve spoken to some at Fisheries who say their research shows lots of bigger fish migrate to the area. We have lost many big fish because of the black water event but knowing that the majority of fish migrate here gives us hope that if all the big cod have died that possibly there are more to return.

We will have more of an idea on the effects of the black water after this month’s annual fish survey taking place on the Goulburn River. This involves a group of anglers fishing alongside Fisheries officers in the same area as previous year’s surveys. The statistics will be compared to previous surveys and this will give us a clear picture of exactly what has taken place. Yes we have lost lots of fish but fingers crossed it’s only the 10-15% reported and not the almost 100% that some have said.

Reporting on the Goulburn has been tough this month with many locals refusing to fish the river. Some are trying to avoid the Goulburn River to decrease the chance of adding any more stress on surviving fish and some staying away feeling that it’s pointless fishing there.

There have been reports of big fish in good numbers being caught above Murchison and closer to the Goulburn Weir. Trolling Codgers and Ballistas have worked well in recent months and many are now trolling the bigger bladed spinnerbaits. The Pirate spinnerbaits with the new vibration blades have worked well and I expect they will continue to bring success in the coming months.

Broken River didn’t get the black water like the Goulburn and this has been fishing very consistent. There is a lot more fishing traffic down the Broken River but this has not spooked the fish. The fish have not been huge but the numbers have been high with some catching 10 cod in an evening session. Using swimbaits and spinnerbaits at the start of the session and then shifting to surface lures in the evening has been the best method.

The waters in behind Kialla Lakes have seen good numbers of yellowbelly being caught around the faster flowing sections. Casting Jackalls or baitfishing with a large heap of shrimp have worked best on the yellowbelly.

Hopefully some of the fish from the Goulburn escaped upstream into the Broken River and if so we should see an increase of fish caught in coming months.

Local Channels

Reading Trelly’s Tackleworld report in February, I saw they were reporting a cod being caught over a metre in the channel that runs from the Waranga Basin to Colbinabbin. Going off the Tackleworld report the same fisho has managed to catch 3 over 1m and plenty between 70-90cm for the last 2 years by casting big cod lures anywhere from the mouth at Waranga Basin, all the way through to Colbinabbin. These techniques to catch big cod can be used in the Main Eastern and there have always been reports of big cod being caught in there. Most of us are using inch long lures to chase redfin in the channels but this gives us something to think about in regards to big cod lures.

I have had a bit of fun in recent times catching redfin on surface poppers. Small cup-faced lures that pop, not walk, has worked best. The fish are not huge but any fish off the surface is always fun and using 4-6lb line with a small reel is a blast.

Waranga Basin

The basin has now seen most of the summer holiday boating traffic dwindle down and is now very easily accessible. The Basin has been fishing well with majority of fish being caught either trolling or jigging ice jigs in the schools. Fish up to 40cm have been caught along the wall area through towards the caravan park.

Small AC Invaders in colour 4T (red) or colour 80 (redhead/white) in 30ft have done a lot of damage of late along with drifting worms and yabbies.

One report came in with a Murchison local wrapping an inch or two of foil above his hook while drifting bait. The foil works like a reflector with the sun (you could almost call it a poor man’s spinner) and it has produced fish.

There have not been many reports of big cod being caught this summer but with more people now targeting the basin with big lures I am sure a few metre cod will be reported in coming months.

Shepparton Lake

The lake has not had much fishing action of late with only the odd angler out fishing. Those in boats and kayaks have had luck trolling shallow running lures and Tassie Devils for trout. Bait fishers have been floating Powerbaits and worms to catch the trout.

Yellowbelly have gone very quiet this summer and there’s only been a few fish caught deep in the weeds.

Fisheries have re-stocked the lake with some mixed size silver perch recently in the hope that they will become another fish locals can target in the lake. Silver perch can be very frustrating if you’re baitfishing for cod but if you target them with smaller hooks and bait on light gear you can have a lot of fun.

There has been plenty of fish stocked in the lake for our enjoyment but with plenty of fat pelicans calling the lake home I suggest we’re not the only ones enjoying the stocked fish.

Kialla Lakes

Lake number one has produced most reports lately with most fish being caught on bait around the willow trees. Yellowbelly between 20-25cm have been the average size with the odd redfin and carp being caught. Lure anglers have caught smaller numbers of fish casting Jackalls around the willows.

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