Trout Fishing Hidden Gems
  |  First Published: August 2007

Although alpine trout fishing is now confined to just lakes and impoundments for a while, one should not despair as the best fishing is often during winter when really large specimens can be taken close to shore.

As a professional fishing guide, I regularly include some lake fishing in the mix of a week’s fishing with clients whatever the season, with a few surprises not uncommon. As part of this service, I sometimes take clients to a couple of well-stocked lakes that nobody else seems to know about or are interested in.

One such water is Lake Catani, at Mt Buffalo. This water is relatively small, less than three acres in surface area, and is surrounded by long native grasses and woody shrubs. The water is always very cold and access is difficult in places although wading is possible along about a third of the shoreline, the rest being a bit too deep but ideal for fishing from a belly-boat or canoe. Lake Catani is populated to excess with wild-bred rainbow trout, containing so many in fact that they reach an average of only around 500–750g. The last time I was there, with flyfishing first-timers, we averaged a strike in about every four casts with most resulting in captures, all of which we released. I am hoping that more anglers will soon discover this wonderful lake and take a few fish out and thereby raise the average fish size!

If visiting Lake Catani during winter, please be aware that is located at 1200m above sea level and falls well within the snow line of the area, so bring very warm clothes, including a complete change in case of accidents. A walk of a little over 1km up a slight incline is also required to reach the best sections as some access roads are closed in winter. Most of the walk may be over freshly fallen snow.

If fishing Lake Catani in summer, be aware that it lies within a state forest and there is a toll of $9.95 per car to pay at the entry gate, but you will quickly discover your modest outlay to be a good investment, believe me. The access road gates are open right to the lake in summer and there are toilet facilities on hand as well (closed in winter).Another rarely visited lake is in the Bogong High Plains area at Falls Creek. Actually, it’s not officially a lake, but a silt trap, about an acre in surface area and designed to stop silt flowing into Rocky Valley Reservoir. This little lake hasn’t got a name, although I call it ‘Lake William’ when referring to it in fishing reports – and it is absolutely teeming with wild-bred brown trout. The fish grow to around 750g in summer, but the Lake is both inaccessible and unproductive in winter. A word of warning though, being a silt trap of very efficient design, one needs to know where one can walk and wade and which areas to avoid on danger of becoming trapped in deep underwater silt that acts like quicksand that can drown or suffocate an unwary angler. If visiting this water for the first time, it’s best to contact me for advice.

Mt Beauty Pondage at Mt Beauty is at full capacity and fishing is excellent during the day, with rainbow trout to 1.5kg, average 850g, being taken on fresh baits presented under a bubble float and lures of various designs. Some good fishing on nymphs is available towards dusk around the reeds at the northwestern end of the pondage. This water is stocked with yearling rainbow trout each November and fish grow quickly due to an excellent food chain.

Dartmouth Dam is fishing quite well despite being at around just 10% of capacity, which is a lot of water anyway. The boat ramps are easily accessible and, as usual, the best fish are taken by trolling around the trees and submerged snags along the eastern side and in the arms further out. One needs a bit of local knowledge to do well here, but someone at the pub will usually help you out on that score. The pondage (Lake Barinboola) is full and fishing is excellent, with rainbow trout to 1.25kg falling for suspended fresh bait and medium-sized bladed lures

Alpine fishing conditions can change very quickly whatever the season, so for the latest update phone Geoff Lacey at Angling Expeditions Victoria on (03) 5754 1466 or check out website www.anglingvic.com.au.

‘Lake William’ in the Bogong High Plains near Falls Creek recently. This little lake is teeming with brown trout to 750g, making it ideal for teaching novice flyfishers the basics of this ancient art.

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