It’s not all doom and gloom
  |  First Published: April 2017

Compared to last year, we have experienced quite a mild summer with reasonable rainfall down here in the southwest, which has been good for water levels all round. However, it was not enough to prevent yet another outbreak of blue-green algae on Lake Bullen Merri which bloomed in February.

This has affected the fishing and a warning issued by the Barwon Southwest Water Authority recommends you don’t come into direct contact with the water or consume any fish caught there.

Anglers into catch and release are still picking up the odd rainbow and Chinook salmon from the sometimes annoying new releases through to fish well in excess of a kilogram. The wind blows the algal bloom around the lake, often concentrating the algae in pockets, so boaters are generally concentrating their efforts on the opposite shoreline.

Flat line trolling medium to deep diving minnow lures in 4-6m depth has worked for those persevering on the lake.

Lake Elingamite near Cobden has suffered a slow decline in water levels, which is especially noticeable at the boat ramp. Duck punts and kayaks are now the only watercraft that can easily launch and enter the lake. This doesn’t sound too good, but compared to previous years, the lake’s levels are actually up. As long as we get decent rain by late autumn, the lake will reopen to larger watercraft by winter. This will give the browns and rainbows released in October last year a chance to stack on some weight.

Lake Tooliorook near Lismore has also suffered a drop in water levels. Boats around 4m can still launch here. The problem is floating weed that has been dislodged by wind and wave action. The weed is described as Agrostis (a creeping bent grass that survives damage) and besides being an absolute nuisance when casting, it easily wraps around turning propellers causing outboard motors to stall. Hopefully in the coming weeks this weed will eventually be blown onto the shoreline where it will eventually break down and rot. There’s plenty of trout in the lake, but not many anglers are presently chasing them.

Camperdown angler and rod builder Ken Carmen ticked a major box on his fishing bucket list recently when he hooked, landed and released six estuary perch from the upper reaches of the Gellibrand River. Ken originally went looking for the Gellibrand’s famous river blackfish that can grow to bigger than average in this river, but encountered a school of EPs instead. Ken said he was at least 20km upstream from the river mouth at Princetown right in amongst the thick bush. The water here is 100% fresh (although often discoloured with tannins) and chock full of snags.

The fish ranged from approximately 400-800g in weight and succumbed to Fish Arrow minnow style soft plastics cautiously cast in and around the many snags. I didn’t ask Ken just how many rigged plastics he actually sacrificed, but I imagine quite a few. This river is very heavily choked with snags and that is an understatement if ever there was one.

Trevor Holmes from Victorian Inland Charters was recently down fishing Lake Purrumbete and besides putting his clients onto at least 120 keeper redfin over two days, one of them hooked up to and eventually landed a Chinook salmon that pulled the scales down to a whopping 5.86kg. This is how big the Chinooks used to be many years ago when they were initially stocked here. Hopefully this is a sign of some great fishing to come!

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