Wendouree’s big reds are biting hard
  |  First Published: April 2017

Fishing in the Ballarat district over the past month has been a bit on the lean side with Lake Wendouree still the shining light for the district. Wendouree is a renowned trout fishery, but not over the past month. Big redfin are showing up and taking the mantle as the number one catch.

The summer has come and gone. It was a reasonably mild one compared to other years, which has helped with our water levels in our fisheries. We can now look forward to the autumn – one of my favourite times of the year for its cool evenings and beautiful, bright sunny days with little wind. Cooler nights mean water temperatures cool down and the trout in our waters will really start to feed up again before the winter breeding season, even though in most of our fisheries in the district they can’t breed due to not having a constant supply of running water, which they need to spawn.

The trout will start once again to forage in closer to the shore instead of out in the deeper water. They normally follow the small baitfish, smelt, which will be the main food source for the next 4-5 months, as the mudeye hatches are near the end of their cycle by around the end of April. The smelt move in close to the shore to do exactly what the trout do – breed – and this is when the trout really target them. It’s very exciting, but frustrating at times, to target trout in our waterways.

During the autumn months, for anglers who like to flyfish, we look forward to hopefully the second hatch of the mayfly this season. I’m full of optimism for the next couple of months after the spring hatch of mayfly on Wendouree was the best for nearly a decade. I wrote extensively about the hatches last year and about how good they were. Flyfishers from all over the state ventured back to Wendouree to fish the once famous Dunn hatches on Wendouree and they were certainly not disappointed with excellent catches of both brown and rainbow trout being taken on mayfly patterns, which included dry flies, emergers and nymphs.

Lake Wendouree is not the only water in the district that has mayfly hatches we can look forward to. Hepburn Lagoon, Newlyn Reservoir and Moorabool Reservoir during the coming months will all have hatches of mayfly, normally around midday until 3pm on overcast days. That’s when conditions are the best to tackle the Dunn feeders, starting with small brown nymphs in size 12 or 14. I then use emerger patterns like a Possum Emerger or a Shaving Brush pattern. Later in the hatch I move to a dry fly pattern.

Wendouree over the past month has produced excellent fishing once again. With big redfin on the menu, I don’t know if you’d really go out to target the redfin specifically that reside in Wendouree or whether they are just a by-catch. Your guess is mine. You can fish mudeyes for trout and catch a redfin, and you can cast a lure, plastic or fly and catch a redfin. If you call catching redfin around that 4lb mark a by-catch, I’m happy with that. I will catch them all day – they’re a magnificent fighting fish and for edibility, they’re number one.

Father and son team Steve and Nathan Angee have been cleaning up, catching some cracking big reddies out of Wendouree. The boys have been casting hardbody lures and plastics out of a drifting boat around the islands on the west end of the lake and also through the rowing lanes.

Emma Corbett has shown how it’s done by catching a 1.7kg 47cm redfin from Wendouree during a fishing competition for the Ballarat Anglers Club recently. Emma snagged this beauty fishing a mudeye under a bubble float anchored in the rowing channel.

I have been out on Wendouree targeting the rowing lanes over a few sessions, mainly in the mornings when it’s overcast. I believe this is the best time to catch a fish. I have been trolling small hardbodied lures about 10m behind the boat and you might say that’s too close. It doesn’t seem to worry the fish at all, even though Wendouree’s maximum depth is 2m.

The reason I have my lures very close to the boat is so they don’t go down too deep and get fouled up by weed. On one of my recent trips I was lucky enough to snag a 45cm 1.65kg brute of a redfin that really fought well and tasted even better. I also managed a couple of small brown trout between 30-35cm that were released, and a dozen smallish redfin as well. Lures in gold and silver have done the damage.

Ben Young and Damien Kierl have been getting amongst the action on Wendouree catching some quality brown and rainbow trout. Ben caught a ripper brown of 1.96kg 56cm casting a Nories 107H pimped up lure with red and black spots on it. Damien has been landing some lovely trout including a magnificent rainbow of 1.5kg on mudeyes fished under a bubble float.

Fishing waters other than Lake Wendouree in the district over the coming months should be good. I have already mentioned a couple of waters that should fish well going on previous years. Other waters that are really worth looking at are Cosgroves, Dean, Bostock and Tullaroop reservoirs. They are all land-based fisheries and within 45 minutes of Ballarat. Anglers using baits, flies, plastics or lures all have a chance to catch a trout or redfin in these waters.

Photo courtesy of Steve Angee.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Angee.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Hon.

Photo courtesy of Ben Young.

Photo courtesy of Damien Kierl.

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