River Productive Despite Wimmera Fires
  |  First Published: March 2006

The heat wave has continued with countless days over 40 degrees. This hot weather has limited most of my fishing to early mornings and late afternoons. Which have been well worthwhile, particularly in the Wimmera River and at Taylors Lake for native fish.

A huge bushfire burnt through the Grampians in late January. This fire has affected a large percentage of bushland, property and stock. Access roads to Lake Wartook, Moora Moora Reservoir, Lake Bellfield and the McKenzie River were closed. I don’t know how badly these areas were burnt; more on that next month when I know more and the smoke has cleared.

Wimmera River

The fishing in the Wimmera River continues to be very good. The most popular fishing areas have been between the Big Water at Drung through to the Dimboola Weir.

Yellowbelly, catfish, silver perch, small redfin, carp and the occasional small Murray cod have been taken with baitfishing producing the best results.

The catfish have been the dominant species caught with most averaging 30 to 40cm, with a few very large catfish to nearly 2kg. Baitfishing in the evenings with worms, yabby tails and yabbies have been the best baits. During the latest full moon the catfish really went mad with catches of twenty fish a session not uncommon in the Horsham area on warm evenings. The best rig to use for the catfish has been a light running sinker or completely unweighted rig.

Some good yellowbelly to 2.7 kg have been taken from the river but they have slowed a bit compared to last month. Baitfishing with yabbies and worms have been best for the yellowbelly although lure fishing is always worth a try here as well. Small StumpJumpers, spinnerbaits and Hogback spinners are proven fish takers in the Riverside area, having some great snags for the lure casters to aim at.

Bankfishing has been best as it is now very difficult to launch boats due to the low water level.

Taylors Lake

I have been spending a lot of time baitfishing Taylors Lake from my boat amongst the timber. I have found the best fishing has been in the early mornings, especially for cod and yellowbelly. The redfin have been biting well right through the day. The best baits have been small yabbies, gudgeon and worms with the redfin showing a definite preference for gudgeon.

The redfin have averaged around 500g and are easily caught once a school is found. Just keep moving and tying up for twenty minutes at each spot. If you don’t get any bites, try another tree until you find them.

I have been catching a few decent yellowbelly at Taylors to 1.5kg on small yabbies with a lot of small yellas around 30cm taking the baits as well. Fishing right in close to the tree trunks is the best way to catch them because they don’t seem to wander far from the snags.

Small Murray cod seem to be very abundant at Taylors. Release them quickly and carefully to minimise releases mortalities. I unhook them while still in the water. There’s really no need to handle them. I even measure them in the water!

On my last four trips to Taylors I’ve caught small cod with yabbies and gudgeon working equally well. The largest cod I’ve managed this year went 52cm. They aren’t that big but are still a lot of fun amongst the timber.

I haven’t been doing a lot of lure fishing at Taylors but it’s always worth a try with spinnerbaits and StumpJumpers. Fluoro green has always been a top lure colour with the wall area a good spot to start.

The water level at Taylors is still around half full and small boats can still be launched at the ramp with care.

Lake Fyans

Due to low water levels (1.3m), the decision was made to commercially net this water for two weeks, much to the disgust of local angling organisations and anglers that travel from all over the state to fish this water.

The aim of the netting was to reduce the biomass of fish within the lake so there would be less chance of a fish kill taking place should dissolved oxygen levels become too low with rising water temperatures and large amounts of rotting weed.

With the amount of fish that were taken during the netting, I wouldn’t bother fishing Fyans again this year.

I have seen many lakes in the Wimmera get much lower than Fyans is currently and still produce magnificent fishing. There was no fish kill to be seen. There are many other lakes around that were, and still are, in a much worse condition than Fyans and yet there’s no suggestion to net these waters.

The fish have been taken now so let’s just hope we get some good rains to refill the lake and that with stocking, the lake recovers in a few years time.

Lake Wartook

I have no recent reports from Wartook as all of the roads leading to the lake have been closed because of the bushfires. The lake itself was pretty badly hit by the fire from what I have heard.

This lake usually fishes very well for trout during March with mudeyes considered best, particularly in the early mornings.

It will be interesting to see how the lake and the McKenzie River recover from the huge fires that swept through.

I will have more to report on Wartook next month because it is one of my favourite waters. I will be straight out there to check it out once the roads open again.

Rocklands Reservoir

The water levels are still low at Rocklands but small boats can be launched at the wall quite easily.

The redfin fishing has been good with many fish between 500g and nearly 1kg taken at Brodies on gudgeon and minnow. Drifting has been the best method of finding the fish but fishing amongst the timber has also been good on the larger fish in particular. The trout have been a bit quiet. Many big carp have been caught on worms.

Trolling with small hard-bodied lures and spinners should be good on the redfin in March.

Below the dam wall in the river there have been a few good size redfin taken on spinners along with the occasional brown trout.

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