Time to play catch up.
  |  First Published: April 2007

It has been interesting in East Gippsland over the past few months. Regular readers will have noticed that there has not been an East Gippsland report for the past few months. There were two reasons for this.

Firstly, the bushfires that started in early December and ended in mid February caused road closures to nearly all our trout rivers and streams. The fires also made most sensible people stay well away from these mountain areas due to the dangers involved and the fact that the emergency services were busy using these roads. Secondly, with one of the driest and hottest summers for many years, the fishing was crap!

Well things have changed. The fires are now extinguished, the roads are open and we have received good rain over much of this area. In fact, parts of East Gippsland received their highest February rainfall for nearly 50 years. This was due to a southeasterly low pressure system moving into the area from the Tasman Sea in late February and dumping heavy rain.

This was coupled with some really heavy thunderstorms shortly afterwards. The amount of rain received varied considerably between areas. In Bairnsdale we had one storm that dumped 25mm of rain on the town in just one hour. Only 2km north of the town there was not a drop.

What this has meant for the trout fishing has varied from river to river. The Mitchell River has been running yellow for the past two weeks and continues to do so. This river receives its water from the rivers around Dargo such as the Dargo, Wonnangatta, Crooked and Wongangarra rivers. Nearly all of these tributaries are in a similar state as the Mitchell: bloody dirty. The silt that is flowing down them will have a significant impact on the fish, both trout and native, and fears are held for their well-being.

A similar story exists in the Macalister River and its tributaries. The recent fires ravaged both these river systems. What we really needed was gentle, steady rain to promote plant growth without disturbing the unstable banks and causing massive erosion. What we got was heavy rain and masses of silt and soil washed into the rivers.

On a more positive note, the Mitta Mitta River and its tributaries fared much better. These Omeo Rivers were not affected by the fires to any great extent. The recent rain has therefore been welcome and the fishing is quite good. Grasshoppers abound in the area and good fishing has been reported in the Big River (upper Mitta River) with respectable fishing in the Cobungra and Bundarra rivers.

A nice 2kg trout was caught at Jokers Flat recently and there have been a good number of trout around 700g caught along with the usual smaller fish. Over the next month the fishing in this catchment should continue to be good so long as we get some more rain.

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