It has been a long cold and wet winter in Gippsland, but spring has finally arrived and with it the opening of the river trout season.
The weather leading up to opening was magnificent, with air temperatures up to 30oC recorded in parts of Victoria. These warm conditions have caused the snow from our snowfields to melt and in the headwaters of our rivers, consequently water temperatures are quite cold. I checked the rivers’ temperatures in numerous spots and found them to be between 4–6oC, which is about average for this time of the year. Of course, with these low temperatures there was never going to be much movement from either trout or insects.
I headed to Omeo for the opening and found the rivers in great shape, prime for fishing. I initially headed to the Bundarra River, which is a lovely small river that flows through a very pretty little valley. A lot of other people had the same thought as I did, and the river was packed. I spoke to many of the other fishermen but the action was quiet. A bait fisherman drifting worms had caught a reasonable fish, while a spin fisherman caught 4 browns of about 300g. Apart from those two fishermen. The fish that were caught were pretty lean, as you would expect after winter.
I then headed to the upper Mitta Mitta River, known as Big River. Above the junction with the Bundarra River, the Mitta Mitta looked magnificent. The water was trundling along at a good rate, but low enough that I could comfortably wade it. There were very few fishermen on this section of river but pickings were pretty lean. Apart from one flyfisher catching a small brown, I did not see another fish.
Lower down, the Mitta Mitta around Hinnomunjie, the river was flowing a bit harder and yielding more fish. The flyfishermen picked up a few small fish, but the spin boys were doing quite well. However because the river was flowing harder wading was difficult.
Other local rivers were in a similar state. The Livingston River looked a million dollars and fished quite well for this time of the year. This river holds quite a large head of small browns, particularly in the upper section around Cassilis.
The Cobungra River, which flows off Mt Hotham, was flowing fairly hard and contributing to much of the additional flow in the Mitta Mitta River. Fishing was tough in this river.
Over the next month, the fishing should really pick up as the days get longer and warmer. Insects and beetles will start to appear, water temperatures will rise and the fish will start to actively feed.
A worry for recreational fishers is the native title claim that has been lodged by the Gunai/Kurnai people. This claim encompasses most public land and water in Gippsland, including the mountains, road reserves and the ocean up to around 30km offshore. They are claiming the right to access, possess, use, fish, and own the land and waterways. The claim even includes the "right to give or refuse permission". This claim is listed to go before the Federal Court in November or December this year, and could have significant implications for recreational fishers. Hopefully which ever decision is made we will not lose access to the waterways we have fished for the past two centuries.Reads: 601