Hoppers are the key to success
  |  First Published: February 2007

As the title suggests the local rivers have started firing early on grasshoppers. It does not matter whether you fish the Goulburn, Rubicon, Acheron or a smaller stream fly and bait anglers alike are enjoying success using naturals are imitations


With the onset of the drought and the dwindling levels in the lake, the Goulburn River has been running at a respectable 2,500 megalitres. For those in the know this is a far cry from the 7,000 megalitres that we expect at this time of the year. This is proving favourable for many anglers. Reports are coming in from all over with baitfishers reporting fish over 1kg on scrubworms. The prize capture recently was one angler (who preferred to stay anonymous) landing a 4kg rainbow trout on a Celta spinner from the Gilmores Bridge area. If you remember last year this area produced three thumper fish upto 5.5kg For an easy access point that gets more than it’s fair share of traffic, that’s pretty good fishing.

Now to the fly casters: although there have been reports of 1kg fish taking beadhead nymphs, most flyfishers are using grasshopper patterns. There are literally hundreds of fish cruising the banks waiting for these little morsels to leap to their tragic death. At the current water levels, the best bet is to wade up the middle of the river and cast back in to the bank. Remember grasshoppers don’t jump far so you need your fly to land within a metre of the edge. There have been several reports of success using the Madam X Hoppers available at Goulburn Valley Fly Fishing Centre in Thornton. The larger size of this fly, combined with its rubber legs, have been proving a hit with even spooky trout.


From the Acheron River there have a few reports of good numbers of redfin taking both lures and scrubworms. These are coming from the area in Taggerty called Southam Drive. The anglers report several bigger bites that they presumed were trout but failed to hook or land. I know that this lightly-fished area of the Acheron does hold some nice trout and would expect some more reports from it as the fly casters make their way up there to fish hoppers. The area has thick grass all the way to the edge with a combination of pools and faster runs, very similar to the lower end of the Rubicon.

Speaking of the Rubicon, in twelve plus years of flyfishing I had my best ever day on a river a week or so ago. In one four hour session I managed eight fish averaging 1kg, lost six fish and actually got busted off six more times. The grasshoppers were thick on the waters edge and every one that jumped in the water seemed to be taken. I personally counted two fish that ate twelve natural hoppers between them before I hooked and lost one of them. The reason that I was busted off so may times is because many of these fish were in thick snaggy areas and wrapped you around a log before you could muscle them out with three pound tippet.

Rick Ditchburn fished that same stretch with me and managed two for himself, both very respectable fish. Even Rick with more than thirty years of flyfishing was impressed with the size and numbers of trout in the river. That day conditions were not ideal as we had just had a splash of rain and the temperature had fallen. Personally I think you need very hot days with little to no wind. I know that I have mentioned it in earlier articles but the Rubber Leg grasshopper fly still seems to be the most productive commercially-tied hopper. It’s combination of drab bone colouration and rubber legs make it a great choice for those who don’t experiment at the vice themselves.


It’s funny, I’m having all the success in the world on the Rubicon but I can’t do a thing right on the lake. I recently spent some time with Brett from Shepparton who had previously managed a hook a 5kg yellowbelly at the Big River Bridge. Due to the low water levels we actually snuck my boat under the bridge and fished some great water. Brett had a follow on a spinnerbait from a smaller yellowbelly, while I could manage no more than a few interested trout. That day we spoke to Brett from the Water Police who mentioned that a few nice Murray cod had been caught from the area underneath the powerlines in the main arm. These were taken on large, dark lures trolled slowly and deeply. We tried this with no success.

The Delatite Arm is tricky to navigate a boat through but is proving very productive for anglers bobbing for redfin with scrubworms. Two nice redfin were caught, both going over 1.5kg. The temperature up there is in excess of 23oC, which is perfect for perch of all kinds. Back at the dam wall, fisheries are still liberating hundreds of smaller trout. These are great fun for kids because they aren’t shy of taking a wonder wobbler cast and retrieved from the bank. I’m not one to say no to any fish stocking program, but I would love to see Murray cod and yellowbelly stocked into the lake. For that matter, it would be great if some of the Pondage brood stock were released into the lake.


One father and son combination landed five trout recently in the Pondage. The biggest was a 3kg rainbow that took a luminous pink Tassie Devil at the Bourke Street end. Another good report has come from the guys at Totally Trout Fishing Centre, who told me that one of their happy customers weighed in a 4kg brownie caught on lime twist Powerbait.

The usual baits such as doughs and gents have produced trout, but lures seemed to be a bit inconsistent. Brett managed a couple of thumpers down near the gates using Wonder Croc lures, but even he says thing are a little quiet on lures.

For any angler considering ducking over into the top of the Goulburn, two anglers were recently caught in the “NO FISH ZONE” and were asked to pay a $2000.00 fine for their troubles,as well as having their fishing gear confiscated. It’s great to see that fisheries are not only patrolling this area but that other anglers care enough to protect these fish and will call the authorities when they see something wrong. Remember the number: 13FISH.

Anyway I’ll probably bore you silly next issue with hopper reports, but I may also have some information from outside my own area. My recent poor showing on the lake has forced me ask the big man in the red suit for some expert tuition. Ask and you shall receive! February 3rd will see me on a full day guide with Roger Miles from Cod Hunter Fishing Tours. This is a great chance to not only pick up some productive techniques, but also learn more about Lake Mulwala.

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