Just like the good old days this May
  |  First Published: May 2017

I am totally pumped by the insane fishing action that we have seen in the Wangaratta region this autumn. In all of my life I have never seen anything quite like it.

In the last two weeks I have had one of my most memorable Murray cod fishing sessions for my entire life, with my mate Brett Corker and I both landing Murray cod over 80cm in the one evening, only 10 minutes apart. Best of all we were five minutes from home in Wangaratta.

I then went trout fishing in a small tributary of the Ovens River with my great young friend Will O’Connor a week later where we had a sensational day catching heaps of wild brown trout on small soft plastics.

Just yesterday I went fishing at Lake Buffalo with my dad where we experienced the best redfin fishing that either of us had ever seen. Dad is 66 and often speaks of the great redfin fishing of the 1960s and 1970s, and said that yesterday’s fishing session was equal to the ‘good old days’ of redfin fishing.

We kept around 40 and released probably five times that many, and we were only fishing for three hours! At one stage, dad ran out of bait so he ripped the gills out of a redfin, put them on the hook and continued to catch heaps of redfin on fish gills.

Now, let me look into my crystal ball and see what might happen in May. It usually sees the beginning of frosty mornings here in the Wangaratta region. Everything has cooled right down, the water is very cold and the fishing can be very slow, and also very hit and miss. Don’t despair, there are still plenty of great fishing options around.

Murray cod

The Murray cod fishing around Wangaratta can be very hit and miss in May. Overall it is a quiet time of the year to fish in the Ovens and King rivers. I’ve had some great cod fishing sessions in May, and the cod will still feed in May, so don’t write the month off completely.

In fact, some of the biggest Murray cod in the river tend to get caught in the colder months, including May. I am hoping to do a bit of cod fishing this May, provided we do not get too much autumn rainfall in April, which may render the rivers too high and dirty. If I can get out, I am expecting to have quite a few fishless trips, and to most likely pick up a few cod. It is all about reward for effort during May in the Ovens and King rivers.

Just a stone’s throw from Wangaratta, Lake Mulwala often fishes very well in May and can still produce good numbers of Murray cod. I consider Lake Mulwala to be a better option for Murray cod fishing in May than the Ovens River, however the Ovens is definitely worth a try if the water conditions are favourable.


May can be a great time of the year to fish for trout in the streams. It can also be an unpredictable time of the year as well with the trout swimming upstream and preparing to spawn. The later in the month we get the more unpredictable the fishing tends to be.

In some of the streams, the trout actually start spawning around mid to late May. Usually this can be visible to the angler by the way of freshly disturbed gravel in the shallow fast running water. If you do see evidence of trout spawning, it is probably a good idea to head to a different stream, perhaps further downstream and leave the spawning fish to do their thing. As stated, this spawning usually takes place late May.


May can be an awesome time of the year to target redfin in the Ovens River catchment with Lake Buffalo and Lake William Hovell both being viable fishing options. I have had some of my best ever fishing sessions in both lakes in May and even June.

I find the numbers of redfin tend to drop away a little bit. However, the average size of the redfin increases as the big fish like to come out and play. Try fishing in the deep water in May where the water at the bottom of the lakes is often warmer than the water at the top where it is exposed to the cold air. I find 25-30ft of water to be productive.

Just to clear up the biggest misconception in freshwater fishing in Victoria, it is not illegal to release a redfin into the water in which it was caught. It is illegal to be in possession of live redfin. You can’t put your redfin in a bucket of water, and technically speaking you can’t put them in a live well, but there is no law prohibiting an angler from unhooking a redfin and throwing it back into the water where it was caught. It is very much illegal to relocate redfin from one waterway to another.

All up, May still has some great fishing options in the Ovens River catchment. Lake William Hovell and Lake Buffalo are the standout fisheries for redfin, and Lake Mulwala for Murray cod.

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