Anglers in NE Victoria’s alpine high country are experiencing the best trout fishing they’ve seen for 10 years, according to locals, with a return to stream conditions reminiscent of the mid-90’s. Many feared that the devastating bushfires of summer 2003, in the wake of a long but now ended drought, would ruin fishing for a long time, but such fears have proved groundless.
Right through February excellent returns have been reported by bait, lure and fly anglers, with all rivers running cool to cold at ideal summer levels, each holding bumper populations of wild-bred brown trout and rainbow trout.
Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley reservoirs at Falls Creek are completely full and anglers are taking rainbow trout to 2.5 kilograms by mid-depth trolling large lures about 50 metres out from the shoreline and in the bays. Shore-based anglers are also doing well with mudeyes and scrub worms fished under a bubble float, with smaller fish, mostly rainbows, to 1.5 kilograms being recorded.
Sub-alpine rivers such as the Kiewa, Mitta Mitta (upper and lower) Ovens, Bundarra, Cobungra and Snowy Creek are fishing extremely well, with an abundant return of the food chain evident, resulting in many more than normal trout from last winter’s spawn surviving and thriving in the perfect conditions. Anglers report that trout captures to 1.5 kilograms are becoming more common this year, with one lucky competitor who fished the upper Mitta Mitta River at Glen Wills during the recent Combined Clubs and Pubs Fishing Competition landing a 2.3 kilogram (given as being 5 pounds 1 ounce) rainbow trout, taken on a floated live hopper. The lower Mitta Mitta River is flowing at 600 megalitres, which is only a trickle compared to full flow, with anglers able to walk across the river almost dry shod in many places. The low water is providing very good flyfishing opportunities, with rainbow trout to 750 grams and a few browns being taken during the day on dry flies.
Interestingly, especially if you’ve ever unexpectedly encountered one, snakes are not so evident along streams this summer, possibly due to the amount of rain and cooler weather we’ve had of late. It even snowed recently at heights above 800 metres, lowering the barometer for a while and putting fish off the bite. Actually, this sort of changeable weather is a feature of the high country in summer and many visiting anglers have trouble interpreting stream conditions and trout behaviour. At such times it’s advisable to consult a local fishing guide, ideally an accredited member of the Professional Fishing Instructors’ and Guides Association, (PFIGA), who can assist anglers facing every sort of situation.
The Gibbo River’s catchment has experienced a lot of logging since the bushfires. Many magnificent gums killed by the flames have been removed and taken for woodchip. It’s a shame that they’re deemed unsuitable for anything else. It’s these operations that are contributing to turbid water in the Gibbo at times.
Flyfishing enthusiasts are about in large numbers at the moment, with reports of some very nice fish being taken, especially towards dusk as trout are rising to a myriad of moths and during the day, small beetles and hoppers. Best dry flies this month are size 12 to 14 Royal Wulff, Red Tag, Adams, Blue Dun and hairwings include Elk Hair Caddis, Red Humpy, Yellow Humpy, plus various stimulator patterns. Best wets include the good old reliable bead heads, black nymph, brown nymph and damselfly in sizes of 10 to 12. A double rig of a Royal Wulff combined with a black bead headed nymph will often take trout when things are proving ordinary. The nymph should be tied in about 30cms below the dry.
For the latest fishing information about these waters contact Geoff Lacey at Angling Expeditions Victoria on (03) 5754 1466 or check out the website at www,anglingvic.com.au
Ben Bowman caught this brown trout on a F5 Rapala in a brown trout pattern.
Wading up a gin clear high country stream in search of a wild brown trout .Reads: 1953