Now that September is finally here, trout fishing in the Victorian alpine region is about to take off! I’m writing a bit ahead of the actual opening but can assure you that this will be the best season we’ve had for many years.
Why? Well for starters, multitudes of small trout that survived to the end of last season, as mentioned in earlier reports, are now healthy yearlings. Furthermore, we’ve had a bumper crop of fingerlings enter the rivers during July and August. Of course, many of those are destined to become lunch for larger fish, but there’s definitely more trout in the system right now than there has been for a long time, believe me.
The wattles are blooming, wombats are about and we’ve had a few days of spring weather already, but there’s lots of rain still to come. And then there’s the snowmelt, bringing high water levels and strong currents, although anglers will still be able to fish the larger rivers.
Looking back on last year, the opening weekend was a bit of a fizzer despite good fish stocks, with too much rain and high water to contend with. This resulted in wet posteriors and poor returns regardless of what fishing method was employed.
The east Kiewa River, usually ignored by anglers as being too low and slow, is flowing nicely at the moment and well worth a visit when the season opens early in September. At this time of year the east Kiewa contains brown trout to half a kilogram or more. They like to sit in the glides, hard up against the riverbank during the day. But be careful because careless wading easily spooks them.
The west Kiewa River is flowing at full throttle and cannot be safely accessed at the moment although there are several spots that may be worth a try if you have felt-soled wading boots. Anything else is inviting broken bones or worse – a broken rod!
Another good stream to fish in early spring is the upper Ovens River between Germantown and Harrietville. This water contains large browns that can be taken on worms or large weighted nymphs using a short leader with casts made directly upstream. The casting distance needs to be minimised to keep tabs on the fly because the fish will spit it out really fast if you’re not paying attention. A word of warning from one who knows: stay below knee deep when wading or you risk being swept off your feet by the current!
Another very good water in spring is the Victoria River at Dinner Plain, near Mt Hotham. This river contains large brown trout and a few rainbows at this time of year. They move out of the Mitta Mitta River in June to spawn somewhere in the upper reaches of the Victoria, then slowly return downstream between September and November each year. The river usually runs very strongly but being quite narrow, access is good. Use a big bunch of live and wriggling earthworms with a medium-sized running sinker.
The Kiewa River at Tawonga is flowing strong and clear due to some limited early snowmelt and seasonal rains. Anglers have been getting some big fish using bunches of earthworms with a size 10 hook on a running sinker rig. If the main snowmelt coincides with a large downpour then the Kiewa may well overflow its banks. When this happens, anglers catch tailing trout in submerged farmers’ paddocks, especially towards the end of the day.
The upper Mitta Mitta River from Glen Wills to Taylor’s Crossing is absolutely chock full of small to medium size trout right now. Reports suggest they’re moving in large numbers during the day. A similar event is occurring in the lower Mitta Mitta River,especiallynoticeable between the townships of Mitta Mitta and Eskdale. I have no fishing reports but suspect that trout are also moving in the Cobungra Riverand theBundarra River, both being important tributaries of the upper Mitta Mitta River.
For the latest information on fishing in the alpine high country, contact Geoff Lacey at Angling Expeditions Victoria on (03) 5754 1466 or check out his website www.anglingvic.com.au.Reads: 684