Hooray! September at last! The trout season in Victoria’s rivers is finally open! Last year at this time the low stream levels in the rivers were somewhat disappointing, but that’s all behind us now. This year they’ve been running at full volume right through winter.
There’s literally a mountain of snow melting right now and the water is flowing down to swell the rivers even more. Added to that, there have been excellent conditions for spawning trout, with good numbers of juvenile and adult fish observed in the Kiewa River between Mt Beauty and Tawonga.
Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley reservoirs at Falls Creek are now accessible for fishing and despite cold conditions (there is still snow on the ground at 1800m in some places), fat rainbow trout to 1.5kg and more are responding well to soft plastic lures and wet flies. In particular, weighted size 12 black or brown nymphs have been working well for intrepid anglers wading knee to waist deep in icy cold and utterly freezing water that chills to the bone in minutes.
A more comfortable prospect may be Lake Guy at Bogong Alpine Village where the air temperature is much warmer, since this lake is located further down the mountain, exactly halfway between Falls Creek and Mt Beauty. This water is usually more suited to trolling, but shore-based anglers record many a good catch early in the season. The feeder streams hold good stocks of rainbow trout, and a few browns as well, making a stop here well worth the effort. The east Kiewa River is the better of the two feeder streams but is a bit difficult to access in places, being fenced as a result of construction works for the new hydro-generator. One can gain reasonable access to all stretches, however, by entering at a point downstream and progressively wading upstream along the edges.
Further down is the Mt Beauty Pondage and the fabulous upper Kiewa River. I have received an unconfirmed report that the Pondage was restocked in late July with 5000 yearling rainbow trout. The Pondage usually receives at least 2000 trout each November, being the only water in the area that is artificially stocked, so such a top-up is not out of the question. The Pondage holds excellent numbers of stick caddis and mudeyes that hide in the reeds, enabling feeding trout to gain weight very quickly. Catches are rarely less than 750g, and often well over a 1kg.
The upper Kiewa River, from Mt Beauty to Mongans Bridge at Coral Bank, is positively stuffed with brown trout of all sizes this month, and it is possible for many anglers to take their bag limit (five trout per day) in an easy morning’s fishing. Best lures are medium-sized soft plastics and metal blades, with big bunches of unweighted worms floated down the current doing a brisk trade as well. Many fish can be taken close to or actually under the banks, where the current is not as strong.
There was a bit of concern earlier about a farmer who had stretched a fence of barbed wire across the Kiewa River, but that occurred much further downstream during the drought when the river was very low. Thanks to VRFish and DPI Fisheries, the fence has now been completely removed.
The other waters that I report on, including Lake Catani at Mt Buffalo, the Ovens River, lower Mitta Mitta River and Snowy Creek are in excellent condition and fishing well.
Lake Dartmouth is rising slowly and the trout are responding well, as expected. Many good-sized brown trout are being taken on trolled fresh baits, instead of lures. The best time to fish is in the early morning. Scrubworms and mudeyes are the preferred baits, mounted on size 12 hooks and trolled behind ‘fenders’ and ‘cowbells’. Many anglers are taking up to five trout per day using this method.
Former VFM editor Marc Ainsworth, along with his dad Murray and John Derbogosian, fished with scrubworms using more conventional techniques and took a total of eight browns and two rainbows over two days, as well as releasing many more. They also caught four Macquarie perch of about 1kg.
Lake Banimboola (the pondage) below Dartmouth, is the star performer at the moment. Many anglers have stopped fishing the pondage, and the numbers and quality of fish caught has risen dramatically. According to John Scales, anglers are guaranteed plenty of action if fishing with worms on a size 10 hook on light line under a running sinker. This is proving to be a simple but very effective rig at the moment.
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.auReads: 2023