I HAVE written about this relatively small impoundment a number of times over the past 15 years and I have certainly seen the ebb and flow of good times and bad there.
I am glad to report that in recent history, the fishing is again well worth talking about. In June, lake Wallace was still 100% full and as I sit and write, water is still spilling over its wall despite this prolonged drought. It’s an unnatural phenomenon but I’ll tell you about that later.
Lake Wallace can be easily found, just west of Lithgow on the Great Western Highway. Take the Wallerawang turn-off and the dam is immediately obvious.
There are no petrol-powered craft allowed on this dam but the bank offers plenty of fishing spots that are easily and safely accessed by the family sedan.
The Wallerawang branch of the Central Acclimatisation Society has seen to it that Lake Wallace annually receives its share of rainbow and brown trout and, in the near future, a seeding of Australian bass may even take place. Stocking numbers have ranged between 20,000 and 50,000 trout fry annually, with rainbows dominating numbers.
Being the highest direct-fed dam on the Coxs River has meant that Lake Wallace water levels have been sustained. Being connected to Thompsons Creek Dam and Lake Lyell by a network of pipes has also helped, with top-ups being regularly supplied by this association with the local power stations.
Lake Wallace certainly does have a reputation with local anglers as a very finicky fishery. By that I mean the fish may not bite for months on end but, when Wallace fires, it’s certainly a place you want to be.
Well known for its trophy trout, the lake relinquishes such specimens with a reluctance and often the accolades that go with these trophies are well worth the time and effort that goes into their capture.
Hot spots may not be all that obvious on first glances but the map hereabouts should help first-timers to put their lure, bait or fly into some productive water.
While the trout fishing can be a year-round prospect with some fantastic Summer fly-fishing, the Winter fishing is recognised as being the most fruitful and that is what this article will tilt towards.
Lake Wallace sports mainly rainbow trout and these predominately pelagic fish roam throughout the dam. The dam is generally quite shallow, less than four metres deep, and extensive weed growth has smothered many areas.
While it can make fishing some areas a chore, there is no doubt that this weed supports untold food supplies for the trout. This has made the fish very fat and quite lazy – they don’t have to expend too much energy to get a feed.
The abundance of food has undoubtedly affected their condition factor, which is quite high, as will be obvious from the first fish you land.
Finding these fish may take a couple of location changes and also the ability to be versatile in your approach. There are obviously many methods of tangling with these fish and often you may have to use a couple of different techniques before the fish begin to show themselves.
It’s no secret that the change of light at dusk and dawn are favoured feeding periods for many fish and the Lake Wallace residents are no different. Favourite lures include Tassie Devils and their various clones, metal spoons, small metal slugs and vibrating lures such as the Heddon Sonar and similar. Are all good choices.
These heavier lures obviously aid the shore-based angler in getting some distance and these dense lures also enable the angler to work the water column effectively. My favourite lure colours for Wallace are gold or copper, silver/white, silver/red and black and red.
Lures such as the indelible Baltic Minnow or similar, although very inanimate in the water, seem to pick up fish with uncanny regularity in this dam.
Metal spoons in the longer, narrower style cast the best, easily being able to punch into a stiff headwind.
Small gudgeon, Asian or crucian carp and shrimp, found in their hordes around the rock walls and ribbon-weed beds, are the main Winter fodder for the trout in Wallace. Imitating these food sources is often the key in this lake.
Freshwater fish just love rising water levels and when Delta Electricity is pumping from Lake Lyell up to Wallace, the fishing really picks up around the dam.
Initially, the outflow point itself is the prime spot. Fish instinctively will turn and run up a flow or current line and, for the first day or three, the fish will congregate tight in the flow, feeding on all the various offerings that have been pulled into the large vortex of eddies that naturally form along the edge of the flow line.
Once the rising water spills over new ground, the fish will disperse and cruise these newly-flooded margins or simply follow wind lanes.
Various land-dwelling insects get caught up in the rising water and are blown across the top of the dam until the wind chop drowns them and they become trout fodder. With this in mind, it can pay to fish the wind-blown shores but look for the deeper areas as ribbon weed can be a chore.
Whenever lure-casting, it always pays to vary retrieve styles. If using heavy metal lures, several pauses during the retrieve will allow the lure to hold a better working depth.
The biggest problem with using these heavy metal lures is that their inherent weight gives the fish good leverage when they jump and often the lure gets sent flying homeward. Believe me when I say it’s frustrating at times.
To avoid this you can employ some fancy rod work or fish with monofilament, not braided, line. Two to three kilogram line is ideal. The stretch in the mono offers a little more leeway than the directness of braid in this situation. It’s a trade-off deal as you will lose strength, durability and feel, but maybe you’ll have a better chance to stay connected for a little longer.
Bibbed minnows are excellent lures in Wallace and the iconic Rapala minnows are my favourites, not forgetting the Tilsan minnows. The downside of these small imitative lures is their weight, which makes them difficult to cast a workable distance in a dam. The upside is that they draw an excellent response from the fish and they stay put despite the aerial antics.
It’s always worth having a bait rod out while you are standing and working an area with a lure. The best bait is PowerBait, which has a deserved reputation on many salmonoid still waters and it’s no different at Lake Wallace.
The trick is to fish light leaders and small hooks to allow the PowerBait to float longer (refer to the rig diagram), a key attribute in this very weed-ridden dam.
Try the pink or rainbow PowerBaits. Natural baits can work and, while not many brown trout get caught in Wallace, a share of them have fallen to a bunch of wriggling worms sitting on the bottom.
I would consider PowerBait to be my first choice, especially during the colder months, even if this does appear to preclude the brown trout from catches.
During Summer, mudeyes fished live under a bubble float is about the best bait you can use. Remembering that apart from some evening and night fly-fishing, the lake is not generally as productive during the warmer months.
The shallow nature of this dam produces often high Summer water temperatures that can affect trout behaviour. It makes them very lethargic and reluctant to chase much at all.
Canoes and kayaks are ideal craft to explore the dam in more detail. The eastern bank is largely inaccessible from the shore but a canoe will open up this area, and more.
There are a few no-go zones, which are buoyed off. Please don’t ignore them as the perimeter of the dam and adjacent power station are patrolled regularly by security guards each day.
Casting lures from a small canoe or kayak into the deep water near the wall is a great way to access the deepest section of the dam, about eight metres down, allowing fish to stratify and swim in more preferred conditions during the warmer periods.
Once again, working the water column with a count-down method is often the key. Casting in towards the rock-fill wall and working your lure deep can be effective on the local brown trout but always expect rainbows and count a brown as a bonus.
Slow trolling is very productive but if there has been a recent blow then weed will often be a problem. If this is the case, methodical casting should achieve some positive results.
While facilities at the dam include a shower and toilet block and gas and timber barbecues, overnight camping is not permitted on the foreshores or adjacent grounds. If you are looking to spend a night or two in the area, the best places to stay are the Black Gold Country Cabins in Wallerawang itself. They cater for camping or cabin accommodation.
The Royal Hotel and the Commercial Hotel can be found along the main street of Wallerawang and both offer good pub meals and accommodation. These venues will also put you close to other fishing opportunities in the local area.
During open season there are plenty of trout streams to walk along but your best bet will be one of the many dams in the area, such as Thompsons Creek Dam, Lake Lyell or, slightly further afield, Ben Chifley or perhaps Oberon Dam. There are plenty of choices.
|Black Gold Country Cabins||02 6355 7305|
|The Royal Hotel Wallerawang||0263 557023|
|The Commercial Hotel Wallerawang||02 6355 1089|
Brightly coloured Winter rainbows and one silver yearling, all caught on PowerBait at Lake Wallace.
Twilight is a great time to be on the water at Wallace in all respects.
Hooked up at Main Point. Apart from being one of the more productive locations around the dam, a full vista of the lake can be seen from this point.
A typical kipe-jawed Winter rainbow from Wallace.
Cloaked in fog and rugged up, but the fishing is hot at the outflow when it’s going.
Spoon-fed trout. When the fish are taking small gudgeon and the small Asian or crucian carp. a small gold or copper spoon is ideal.
1 Main point: Good deep water for spinning and bait drifting.
2 Dam wall: Good lure casting into deep water and good Summer fly-fishing. Bait fishing at the extremities of the rock-fill wall is also very good.
3 The outflow: Excellent lure fishing when Delta Electricity is filling the lake from Lake Lyell.
4 Pipeline point: Excellent all-round fishing opportunities.
5 Excellent bait fishing all along this bank.