Small Trout Abundant
  |  First Published: June 2005

Trout fishing in northeast Victoria’s alpine high country has already begun winding down with only a few anglers taking to the water over the last couple of weeks, despite exceptionally good weather and excellent stream conditions.

As reported previously, the fishing is the best we’ve seen in 10 years, with many large rainbow and brown trout from all rivers and mountain streams during the height of the season. They’ve become scarce and only small fish, mostly rainbows to 350 grams, are being caught in any numbers.

One reason, probably the most likely, for the scarcity of larger trout is that they are gearing up for their annual run to their spawning grounds, often up tiny little, mostly unknown, creeks that one could easily jump over. Such trout can sometimes be seen from mid to late May in the upper Mitta Mitta River, in the vicinity of ‘The Joker’ camping ground at Anglers Rest, lining up right across the river for up to two weeks before they suddenly move off as if on command. Anglers encountering this phenomenon can find it very frustrating because the trout cannot be caught and are reluctant to move. Wading into their midst only makes those closest move a little to the left or right. They return to their original position as the wader moves on.

The trout cannot be caught because, prior to beginning their spawning run, their digestive system closes down completely. They do not feed at all. In fact they cannot, thus allowing them to concentrate on the task at hand. Namely, reproduction of their species. The trout resume eating after spawning and it is then, in early spring that ‘mug’ anglers sometimes catch huge trout.

The small trout mentioned earlier are in huge numbers, with many local anglers saying they have never seen so many before. The fish range in weight from 150 grams to around 350 grams on average. To help emphasise their numbers, during a recent 3 day campout with 16 first time flyfishing teenagers, they caught and released over 14 rainbow trout on dry flies within 30 minutes. And this was on their first day!

The abundance of small trout can be explained by the healthy food chain, which has improved to levels not seen for a long time. A brief inspection of submerged rocks in fast water will reveal healthy numbers of aquatic invertebrates. These form a large percentage of a trout’s food intake. Thus, an unusually high proportion of fry from last year’s spawn have survived and will become part of next season’s expected bumper trout population.

The pondage at Dartmouth remains quite shallow as Southern Hydro builds another hydroelectric generating plant close by, although normal levels should resume very soon. During this low flow the fishing has been good with reports of pan sized and smaller trout being taken by lure and bait anglers.

A hydroelectric generator is also scheduled to begin being built on the east Kiewa River at Bogong Alpine Village in June this year and should be completed by December 2008. It will employ about 200 people during erection and access for anglers to the river will be maintained at all times. More information will be made available as it comes to hand.

Fishing in Lake Mokoan, near Benalla, has slowed down reports Heather Williams of the caravan park (03) 5765 2298. Murray cod have become harder to find although yellowbelly and redfin are plentiful for shore based anglers. Many fish caught lately have been a little small, mostly undersize to just size. Best baits are worms and shrimp. Most fish are being taken from along the bank opposite the park and along the Yarrawonga Road.

For the latest fishing information for the alpine high country contact Geoff Lacey at Angling Expeditions Victoria on (03) 5754 1466 and check out website www.anglingvic.com.au

Small rainbow trout have been abundant in high country streams this season.

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