We are now past the half way mark of the riverine trout closed season. It’s been really odd, but good, to see the local bridges empty of cars.
Our trout seem to be definitely getting a well-earned rest as anglers leave them alone to spawn. The problem is that they seem to have spoken to the Lake Eildon trout that are also having a rest.
Keen trollers are picking up smaller trout, but very few large ones are showing up. A lot of anglers I know are leaving the boats at home and concentrating on the ever-productive Eildon Pondage because it’s been offering up a good selection of small silver coloured brownies mixed in with some big, more colourful ones.
Trollers have been picking up fish but the average size has been about 500g, leaving a few anglers rather dejected with the time and the effort they’re expending.
The best lures by far have been the new StumpJumpers. The 3.5 size has been accounting for the largest number of these fish. Still with the two inter-changeable bibs, they dive to depths of 2-3m. They come in a range of colours including green, yellow and orange Fruit Salad, pink and purple, and Rainbow Trout.
There are still reports of Tassie Devils working in the area known as The Powerlines. Generally, trollers are using the 13.5g models. Best patterns have been smelt and pink. For some reason very few anglers can resist trolling a pink lure.
Lately, Heidi and I have been seeing a swing towards the Dual Depth 20g Tassie Devils in the shop. It seems that more and more anglers want to troll deeper. It could just be that, as the usual lures may not be working, it’s time to broaden horizons and fill the lure box with some other options.
The recent rains may be just what the lake needs to really start firing up and, fingers crossed, current weather forecasts deliver some more by the time you’re reading this report.
Inlets and coves such as Collier Bay seem to be getting as many reports as the likes of the Big River.
Jerusalem Inlet, at times, is just a launching facility, but there are plenty of good trout to be caught not far from the ramp. You don’t need to motor far before you slow down, put the lures out and slowly begin the trolling odyssey.
There have been a few reports through Eildon of a couple of big rainbows caught up the Big River Arm by a father and son combo. These guys apparently landed three rainbows up to 4kg trolling winged lures in the outer reaches of the Arm.
August is also a good time to break out the baitcaster again, chuck the old plug back on, and start practising for what we all hope will be another boomer yellowbelly season.
I know that the first few times I went out last year chasing them with the AusSpin spinnerbaits and Oar-Gee lures, my casting left a bit to be desired. Inaccurate presentations and birds-nests really soured a few early season days. This year I will be a little better prepared!
We started weighing in big yellas around late September last year, as the spring rains flooded over new grass at Bonnie Doon. A couple of early season thumpers could be just what the doctor ordered if the trout don’t fire up soon.
They just keep stocking the Pondage! Each day that you go out there you feel confident that there will be some action. I’m not saying that you always bag out, but there is generally at least a hook up or a bite.
It’s great to see how the water level seems to be topped up each week to keep the constant water level. I’m not quite sure if it’s being managed for the benefit of the anglers (I doubt it), but it’s certainly helped the fishing.
Bait anglers have provided mixed Pondage reports lately. One fella sat there watching good-sized trout do laps around his mudeye without touching it. Another angler landed five in 45 minutes to 2kg on mudeyes.
One thing that most of them do agree on is that PowerBait still works! Heidi and I would have to say that PowerBait, in all its assorted colours, outsells gents easily in our Alexandra shop. Gents were once the number one choice for ground bait in the Pondage, but I guess the ease and productivity of PowerBait cannot be argued with.
Ray Norris from Alexandra caught a nice fat brownie on rainbow patterned PowerBait up the cemetery end of the Pondage lately. And Steve from Keilor way managed to catch his first ever trout, a rainbow that took some pink PowerBait under the bridge. I think he’ll be back to chase down another soon enough.
Steve’s fishing partner on the day lost a tussle with a brownie estimated at 3kg. It took the lure and battled all the way to the bank before it got away. Sometimes, it’s the fish we don’t catch that bring us back more so than the ones we do land.
Lure anglers are still having good success with the trusty Wonder Crocodile lures. At 10g you can cast them a mile. And they don’t seem to dive into the weeds on the retrieve.
Recently, I fished with my dad opposite the footy oval on the top Pondage. I was using fly and he was using lures. First cast each we got a double hook-up. Both of these fish were smaller silver brownies that seem to be abundant out there. They go up to about 1kg and fight like ten fish, well maybe five fish! We went on to land a further five trout for the relatively short afternoon session.
Fly casters have been enjoying a great time given that those smaller trout I mentioned can’t seem to leave a Woolly Bugger alone. They don’t always hook up, but I would rather get hits than nothing.
A recent trip resulted in one of those fish hitting my fly, off the same weed bed, four casts in a row. On the fifth cast I was hit again, this time by a brownie of about 3-4kg. As the tail slapped out of the water it looked like an open hand with spread fingers. Maybe the smaller fish stirred up this response from the big one. We can only guess.
By far my favourite fly in the Pondage is the commercially tied Bushys Horror. For those of you who are lucky enough to have Jungle Cock feathers to tie them, do it with a shorter tail. For those who have to buy them, pull the tail feathers out and shorten the fly up a bit. It does present a different fly but you’ll probably be very happy with the new pattern if my experience is anything to go by.
If you’re finding the area that you’re fishing a bit slow, move around a bit. I regularly see one particular fly caster out there who is always in one of two places. To be honest, I rarely see him catch fish.
If they’re not on where you are, even if you think it’s a productive area, just walk away. You can always come back to it. I did this recently and ended up with one of the best-looking 2kg brownies I have ever seen.
The problem is I should spend less time worrying about photos for my reports, and stuffing around with the camera in my pocket, and more time not being such a klutz with the net. The fish swam away without a photo, so I guess you will have to take my word for it.
Anyway, the rivers will be open in early September and we all know that they tend to fish really well with the lower water levels before the irrigation season opens and pushes higher flows.
It’s hard to give good advice on where to try just yet because none of us have been out there to get reports. It will be a bit of trial and error in the first couple of weeks after the opening.Reads: 1230