Warm Water Woes
  |  First Published: March 2006

Over the past few months I have been reporting what wonderful trout fishing we’ve been experiencing in the Victorian High Country. We are still getting good fishing but as we are now well into summer, and it will not be long before autumn arrives, the fishing has gone off just a little.

 There are still lots of fish around and the water in our streams is running beautifully for this time of the year. Huge numbers of grasshoppers are along most of our waterways but the water temperature has increased significantly.

I fished the upper Mitta Mitta River recently. When I commenced fishing at about 10am I checked the water temperature. It was quite a reasonable 18 degrees. I fished well into the afternoon and noticed that the fishing had shut down by mid afternoon. The temperature gauge measured the surface temperature at 22 degrees, up 4 degrees from mid morning.

 Trout are basically a cold water species and like water temperatures to be somewhere between 8 and 18 degrees. Between 18 and 24 degrees the fish will survive but as the temperature gets over 20 degrees the fish usually go off the chew. Over 24 degrees can be fatal. So what to do?

 I suppose we can quit fishing and go home but I’m always reluctant to take this option. Finding some water that’s a little cooler is the way to go. This can often be done by moving to another part of the river or another river altogether but I have a preference for ones with lots of shade and therefore, cooler water.

 The second option is to concentrate on the fast broken water. Trout will often move into these areas to escape the heat and find water with more dissolved oxygen.

 Thirdly, and probably most obviously given my recent visit to the Mitta, we can fish early mornings and evenings when water temperatures are at their lowest.

 As we towards autumn I notice the days getting shorter and the nights getting a little cooler. It will only be a matter of weeks before the first frost appears in the mountains. This will have a huge impact on the fishing as the water temperatures decrease.

 The rivers around Dargo such as the Crooked, Dargo, Wonnangatta and Wongungarra are all quite low and very hot. I suggest you look elsewhere.

 On the other hand the Mitta Mitta River above Lake Dartmouth is still producing good fishing so long as the days are not too hot. Fish up to 1.5kg have been quite common. Unfortunately, carp have moved into the river as far as the Omeo Valley area.

 The Cobungra River has also been fishing well. This is a great little grasshopper stream and is carrying some really nice browns at the moment. The Bundarra River is also fishing quite well, again to hoppers.

 The Gibbo River has been a mixed bag. It is not fishing particularly well and the water has been quite dirty at times.

The Livingstone Creek upstream of Omeo continues to fish well for small browns.

 It is great to see the CMA together with Parks Victoria undertaking a spraying program along the upper Mitta Mitta River in an effort to rid the area of blackberrys and English broom. The team has two all terrain vehicles, one of which is amphibious. They have sprayed a significant area between Glen Wills and Blue Duck. This has made much more water available to anglers. Well done to these two organisations!

A good brown trout from the upper Mitta. In hot weather it pays to fish early or late in the day when water temperatures are lower.

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