Surprise happy ending
  |  First Published: May 2003

Good news this month: The Mitta Mitta River has dropped to a very fishable level after an extended irrigation release of water from Dartmouth Dam.

There have been some excellent reports coming in and it looks like being a surprise ending to a very ordinary trout season. The water flows were reduced towards the end of March and have now stabilised at good height for anglers and fish, especially trout.The best reports have come from around the township of Mitta Mitta, where fish up to 3kg have been caught and kilo specimens are regular catches. Lures have accounted for most of the fish taken so far but as word gets out and more fisho’s hit the water I’m sure that all methods will account for good catches.

Spinning with bladed lures is the best method through the faster runs and glides. Use fairly heavy lures of about 7g to 14g, cast upstream and retrieve slightly faster than the water flow with a flicking motion of the rod tip to impart an erratic movement.

The best colour and pattern to use is always a matter of contention and just about every angler has ‘the only one that works up here’ on the end of their line. Many patterns that consistently produce results have been tried and tested over the years.

Probably the most successful and oldest spinner type on the market is the Celta. These have been around for years in a range of sizes and colours and work very well. The red/black and green/black patterns are the most popular, followed closely by the solid black and black with orange spots.

If you carry a few in different patterns and colours you are sure to do well. Jensen Insect spinners are also effective and popular lures. The green body with the silver or bronze blade is my favourite, along with the smallest all-black model.

Change the lure to suit the conditions – use a lighter lure in the slower water and a heavier one in faster water. The lure needs to be just off the bottom in the runs and glides because this where the fish hold, waiting behind shelter to ambush passing food.


Spinners generally don’t work as well as minnow-type lures in the deep, slow pools during daylight but they can be dynamite after dark. Size, rather than colour, becomes the most important consideration at night. Use the largest spinners that you have and preferably the darkest. Cast them around the edges of the pools and work them as slowly as you can – just fast enough to get the blade moving is ideal. Big trout will be prowling these areas looking for big lumps of food like frogs, mice and small fish.

Don’t worry about making a noise with the lure – the harder it hits the water, the more likely it is to provoke investigation from prowling fish. The angler, however, should be dressed in dark clothing and moving as quietly as possible. Don’t wade if you can avoid it – wading makes noise and creates a wake/wash effect large enough to disturb fish. Keep out of the water altogether it you can.

Minnow and spoon lures are good trout-takers and work well in the deeper pools and slower runs. The Rapala CD minnows in the rainbow and brown trout patterns are the stand-out lures in 5cm, 7cm and 9cm models. The 50mm and 75mm Knol’s Natives are also very successful. With hundreds of similar lures available you should have no trouble finding something similar.

Among the spoon lures, the old faithful Wonder Wobbler, in chrome or brass, has been catching trout for decades. There also are many types of spoon lures and most will work well if fished in the right area at the right time. Generally, the shinier the better but sometimes the patterned types will work well. The frog and redfin patterns in the Wonder Lure range are good examples. This type of lure is comparatively cheap and you can afford to take along a few different types and patterns.

Crickets deadly

Bait-fishers should also fare well with bait being plentiful and cheap. One of the best baits is a live black cricket. Look under rocks along the river banks and you should find plenty. Other good places to look are under the bark of trees and dead timber. They can be fished under a float, free-drifted or with a split shot in faster-running water. I prefer to fish with them at night, when the fish more likely to be looking for them.

Another stand-out bait is the mudeye, or dragonfly larva –a little harder to collect and fairly expensive to buy. Try dragging a fine mesh net around reeds in backwaters and around dam shores. Submerged dead timber is also good. They can be fished in the same way as black crickets and are best used live under a bubble float. Dead mudeyes can be saved and fished with a small piece of lead shot in fast water.

For the fly-fishers I suggest brown and black nymphs. I like to fish a tandem rig using a bead-head weighted nymph trailing an unweighted smaller nymph. It is a bit early for glow-bugging but brightly-coloured minnow patterns such as the Clousers in No 4 or No 6 can be very successful.

In the evenings, Muddler Minnows, Craig’s Nighttimes, Mrs Simpsons and similar patterns are good. Don’t forget to try a black cricket or large hopper pattern. Dry flies are probably going to be most successful in the mid afternoons, when most insect activity occurs. Keep an eye on what is happening around you as go and change methods to suit.

The cod fishing continues to be very good in Lake Mulwala and the Murray River although things will start to slow down dramatically towards the end of this month as the really cold weather starts to set in. I suggest you fish the deeper areas of the lake and along the river channel. Fish will start to move there looking for alternative food sources as the margins of the lake shut down for Winter.


Phillip Ratcliff of Wodonga with Decoy, the Wonder Dog, patiently bait-fishing for cod in the Murray river below Lake Mulwala.


This plump little hen brown fell to a green-bodied Jensen Insect in the upper reaches of the Mitta Mitta River


Amy Loh from Melbourne with a nice brown trout caught on a black Celta spinner in the Mitta river

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