Natives fire up
  |  First Published: December 2003

JANUARY signals the hottest few weeks of the year but I’m confident that it will also spark the local native fish into action.

It really frustrates me when all the days virtually average around 35° and it takes a brave man to sit out there all day – but you just have to love those hot evenings. The simplest advice that I can recommend is obviously apparent, so make the most of those scorching days and get out there, and its not such a bad way to end the day.

Back in November I predicted a great season for Lake Hume’s golden perch and I’m happy to say that it was outstanding. The water held around the 70% level for a month. The word on the street was that the yellas were on the bite, everyone knew about it, and great numbers of boats were out there every night. Most competent anglers were rewarded and I can only hope that this is a great reflection of the years to come. May the stocking of goldens long continue!

This month you really are best to turn your attention to redfin. The yella numbers tend to taper off because of the falling lake level but they will still turn up when you target the reddies. If you want to really work hard for the goldens, troll small lures deep and as close as possible to structure.

For the redfin, I have found it’s great to use small lures that can get down past six metres and run a 2” soft plastic grub a metre in front of the lure off a dropper. The most popular lure for trolling reddies with a dropper would have to be the medium-sized Luhr Jensen Hot Lips but I reckon the Aussie-made 60mm Deep Merlin, 50mm Knol’s Deep Native, and the AC 40-50mm Invaders and 60mm 30ft Minnows work just as well.

Best areas to chase the reddies in Lake Hume are points or heavily-timbered areas. The big points are always a good start because they usually have some sort of the wave-generated water movement.


This month really signals the start of great native casting in our bigger rivers and some great dry-fly trout opportunities. The Mitta Mitta, Upper Kiewa, the west branch of the Kiewa, Narial Creek, Swampy Plains and Indi rivers will all be worth checking out.

This is by far a pick of times for fly anglers. Hopper and beetle patterns dead-drifted in the shade of overhanging trees during the heat of the day work well. They try an unweighted brown nymph drifted through the faster water late afternoons and, on dark, fish the insect hatch with an appropriate dry fly.

The cod above Lake Hume usually start to co-operate this month. Bait anglers, who primarily use bardi grubs, usually do best but lure-casters can still get among them. The fast current can make for a tough time, particularly for lure-casters, but there are plenty of big cod to make the hard times worthwhile.

I recommend casting big spinnerbaits, from 3/4oz to 1oz, as tight as possible to the willows and fishing them down the faces of the branches and timber with the slowest retrieve as possible. If the current is very hard, maybe one angler should cast and the other hold the boat in the current. Trolling the slower water with divers close to the boat and steered around the timber always seems to do well.

Anywhere from just above the backed-up water of Lake Hume to around Tintaldra has good numbers of cod. Last season spinnerbait fan Kelvin Smith did well from his canoe. Among the Murray cod were many trout cod, which are a totally protected and should not even be removed from the water if at all possible. Make sure you know the difference and handle them with kid gloves.

The Ovens River fished very well last January and should perform much the same this year. The lower Ovens from North Boorhamen downstream to Bundalong can be fished thoroughly by boat but anywhere else is restricted to a canoe. There is so much water rarely fished with lures because of its tough access but there are brilliant Murray cod on offer.

In the slower water, floating minnows that dive quickly and cast well are tough to beat. There is such a big selection of divers now available and all no doubt succeed but we had best success on the 75mm Knol’s Native, 70mm AC Invader and the 70mm JP Hornet. The fast water is best fished with spinnerbaits, with their strong vertical presentations.

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