Stout trophy trout on surface lures
  |  First Published: June 2017

Anglers around the Ballarat district are catching quality fish due to excellent fish management strategies and plans put in place by the Victorian Fisheries Department. Fisheries work with local Ballarat District Anglers Association, which is made up of local angling clubs around the district.

The clubs provide very important information to Fisheries, including fish captures from district waters, fish weights, sizes and condition factors. This information is used to compile evidence to substantiate fish stocking rates for our waters.

Fisheries have plans in place to increase or decrease stockings depending on the information that has been supplied. They also use historical information to assist with the decision-making. This includes drought recovery plans, which worked a treat after the last drought. I believe the current stocking rates and management have got it right. Fisheries need to be congratulated as well as members of angling clubs and other anglers who are supplying the information.

Fishing over the past month has improved with reports coming in from quite a few of our district waters. This is unusual for this time of the year. Anglers have normally packed their rods away for the winter slumber by now. Over the past month some true trophy-sized trout and redfin have been recorded with Lake Wendouree producing most of those captures. This will change over winter.

Other district waters should produce trophy trout and redfin as well. This normally happens as the bigger fish come in closer to the shore for the annual spawning or breeding season. The fish are looking for gravelly or rocky shorelines to spawn.

Unfortunately most of our waters in the district don’t have running streams that are suitable for this natural spawning run to occur. They are mostly landlocked. This doesn’t stop the big fish from coming in close to the shore to try to spawn like they would in places where the conditions suit. Over the next few months, there will be trophy fish caught like in previous seasons.

Lake Wendouree produced an unforgettable fishing session for me and my fishing mate Ben Young recently. I thought I would share this experience with you instead of just saying we caught this and that. On our fishing session we decided that we would use some older lures that aren’t as well known to a lot of anglers who cast or fish lures for trout.

The lure I’m talking about is a bent minnow style lure. It’s a surface/subsurface lure that is available in different sizes and colours. A lot of bream anglers use this lure. The lure is cast out from a boat, kayak or from the shore and retrieved at various speeds, fast or slow. Giving the rod a twitch on the retrieve helps as well.

I prefer to use a lure like this when there is some wave action on the water surface. It swims better and the trout are more likely to be looking around than in glassed out conditions. That doesn’t mean they won’t bite the lure in those conditions. This is my experience.

Lake Wendouree is covered with weed that continually grows and is harvested all year round by mechanical weed harvesters. They keep most of the lake fishable to anglers with the weed at variable depths. Sometimes I think they are fighting a losing battle. This is where the bent minnow style comes into play. You can use this lure in most of the lake, which isn’t accessible to other forms of angling. The fish in Wendouree are located everywhere. With this style of lure you can fish to them.

On our fishing session I couldn’t believe the countless rainbows and browns that we landed, hooked and had follows from, including an absolute horse of a brown trout – my personal best at 71cm, 3.7kg. I think it was the biggest fish since Wendouree filled up after the drought. This brown will sit proudly in my fishing room at home.

Wendouree over the past month has continued to produce excellent catches of magnificent trout and redfin. The big redfin have been the talk of the angling community with lots of guys and girls catching these big redfin. This has been very evident with the amount of posts on social media platforms like Facebook. Over the next month we will see plenty over 50cm (trophy-size) show up.

Andrew Christoforou is one of the many anglers who have been able to land some of the big Wendouree redfin. Andrew recently scooped the pool with two big reds at 48cm each one weighed 2.265kg. He caught them casting soft plastics.

Jason Mackley, like Andrew, bagged a couple of the big reds casting plastics as well. The big redfin catches seem to be in pairs, male and female. That’s an indication that they are in spawning mode, so if you get one you might get two.

Steve Angee has continued his lucky streak catching some lovely brown and rainbow trout including a lovely 2.5kg brown. Steve has also bagged some of the big reddies up to 48cm on his trusty Nories BR-74 lure, which he has been using for the past two months. Steve said while he is on a winner, why change? Fair call, Steve!

Jayden White, a very keen young angler, continued to bag some very nice trout over the past month mainly fishing out of a kayak casting hardbodied lures. Jayden has concentrated on the main rowing channel to catch his fish.

Ben Young, mentioned earlier, is quite happy to pass on his knowledge to fellow anglers, young and old. He will always say g’day and ask if you are catching any. Ben is one of those anglers who likes to test new gear and gadgets to assist him in catching whatever fish species he is targeting. His latest weapon is his electric trolling motor, which includes an option called Spot Lock. He is using this in conjunction with his depth sounder/fish finder.

Ben has been trolling hardbodied lures in the main rowing channel targeting redfin. Ben watches his sounder all the time. When the boat goes over a school of redfin he marks it on his sounder. If he gets a strike on his lures he then sets Spot Lock on his electric motor. The electric holds the boat in the exact position using GPS tracking. Ben then casts his lures or plastics over that area and normally catches plenty of redfin. I have seen him getting big bags of them on Wendouree and other lakes. One of Ben’s recent catches included a big redfin measuring 48cm.

Newlyn Reservoir has started to fire up with some nice small to medium sized redfin being caught on lures, plastics and garden worms. Tom Nyguen has been sneaking out to Newlyn recently with some success. He caught some decent brown trout casting the Bumble Bee Bullet Lure. Newlyn is generally a very good winter fishery with the trout targeting smelt/small baitfish. Anglers using baits, flies or lures will need to change their respective baits, lures or plastics to match what the fish are feeding on to give them the best chance of catching a fish.

Tullaroop Reservoir over the past month has been relatively quiet with only a handful of reports filtering through. This will change. Tullaroop is one of my favourite winter fisheries. Colby Lesko loves to fish Tullaroop over the winter months casting lures and recently had a trial run in readiness for the winter months. He landed a magnificently conditioned brown trout of approximately 6lb.

Over the past few years, excluding last year, Tullaroop has produced magnificently conditioned rainbow and brown trout. Some have been over the magical double figure weight. Tullaroop was heavily stocked last spring with both rainbow and brown trout. Anglers will see a few of these smaller fish show up. If you’re prepared to rug up and walk the many miles of Tullaroop’s shorelines targeting the deeper, rockier shores, casting hardbodied lures, you will be rewarded. You could latch onto one of these absolute brutes that lurk in Tullaroops waters.

Just a quick tip: ensure your gear is up to scratch with new leaders and strong quality hooks. For anglers who like to fish bait, mudeyes suspended under bubble floats will bring some trout undone. Maybe try a bunch of garden worms or salted white/blue bait on a running sinker rig.

At Moorabool Reservoir over the past month the fishing has been improving. For those anglers who like to fish during the colder months Moorabool is one of those waters I would suggest you target. The water level is very high in Moorabool this year unlike in other years. It was heavily stocked with trout last winter. Add this to the resident population of trout and redfin and there are plenty of fish to be caught.

Moorabool has very expansive shorelines which anglers can cast flies and lures or fish baits from. The main food source that the fish feed on during the winter months in Moorabool is once again smelt. Anglers will need to represent these small baitfish when choosing an artificial lure or fly. Bait fishers could try a big bunch of worms or a mudeye fished under a bubble float.

Kiel Jones loves to fish Moorabool during the winter months targeting trout feeding on smelt. Kiel is prepared to walk miles and miles in search of these smelt feeders. He likes to target them on early morning, especially before the sun comes up. Kiel has already been rewarded for his efforts landing some very chunky rainbow trout.

There are very exciting times ahead for those who like to venture out to Moorabool.

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