Springtime is Yellowbelly Time
  |  First Published: September 2005

Now that the days are getting longer and the temperatures a little warmer, we can once again look forward to what promises to be another great native fish season.

The Wimmera River is a great option for native fish anglers, as is Taylors Lake. September has always been a productive time to target native fish in this region as they become active again after their winter slumber. The trout fishing is also popular in this neck of the woods during spring, with flyfishing and mudeye fishing being most productive.

Wimmera River

From September onwards, the native fish will be becoming increasingly active. Good fishing locations are around Horsham, Wail and Dimboola for both boat and land-based anglers.

Yellowbelly, silver perch and redfin are the main species to be targeted here at the moment. The catfish don’t really start to fire up until around late spring and the Murray cod are covered by the closed season, which opens again in December.

With the water being very discoloured at present, bait fishing with worms, yabbies and peeled yabby tails will be the best method of fishing around any snaggy or weedy area. The river always tends to fish better in the afternoons towards evening.

The popular running sinker or paternoster rigs are a good option and most often used by locals. I like to fish the bait unweighted and with an open bail arm, particularly for the larger yellowbelly, because they often drop the bait when they feel a bit of resistance from a sinker.

Taylors Lake

This is a great water for yellowbelly with some large fish to 4kg taken here every season. The average size is around1kg.

During July, local Ken Flack took a couple nice yellowbelly to 2.2kg from the outlet channel behind the wall on scrubworms. So even with the cold water there are still a few to be caught.

Surprisingly to some, lure fishing works well with large spinnerbaits, Codger lures and StumpJumpers most productive, particularly when cast and retrieved from the wall. At the time of writing the water clarity isn’t too bad and looks good for a bit of lure fishing in the coming weeks.

Most yellowbelly taken at Taylors are caught while baitfishing with worms and yabbies on running sinker rigs around snaggy areas. While fishing for yellowbelly, carp and redfin are often encountered too.

If the lake is rising over the next few months expect the fishing for yellowbelly to be excellent. When the lake is slowly dropping, the fishing often shuts down a bit so keep your eyes on water level reports.

Lake Bellfield

The redfin fishing has been good with many anglers taking decent bags. Their average size isn’t huge but their numbers make up for it. They range in size here from 300g to 600g with the odd larger fish to a kilo. Drifting with gudgeon and trolling Rapala minnows has been the best method with the occasional brown trout also taken in this way.

Although boat anglers have been the most successful, fishing from the bank is also worth the effort. Float or paternoster rigs are most effective at Bellfield due to large amounts of mossy weed on the bottom.

Fishing from small tinnies with electric motors is the way to go because you’re not permitted to use petrol outboards on this lake.

Blackfish and rainbow trout are also present in this water.

Lake Fyans

At the time of writing this lake is at 19% and not fishing well. Unless the lake receives water soon, the fishing will be very difficult here over spring. The trout seem to be doing most of their feeding at night and are not moving around much in the shallow, clear water during the day.

Anglers fishing with mudeyes under bubble floats have taken a few brown and rainbow trout around 1.5kg but had to work hard for them. First and last light has produced the best mudeye fishing.

Flyfishing after dark with slowly retrieved Mrs Simpson and Craig’s Nightime flies has been producing some good fish, the best of them a brown of 3.5kg. I plan on making some night flyfishing trips to Fyans over the next few weeks but I don’t think bait or lure fishing is a productive option at present unless the water level improves.

Lake Wartook

I have been spending a lot of time fishing Wartook lately and the fishing has been hot and cold. If you’re prepared to put in the time and effort and fish with stealth, good brown trout to 2.7kg are there to be caught. With current low stocking levels and a huge food source of minnow and small redfin in this lake, the trout haven’t really been competing for their food so an active angling approach is required to successfully fish this lake.

The lake is a lot clearer than usual and has been slowly dropping, which has also made the fishing a bit difficult. On days of high boat activity the trout also become very cagey.

With warmer weather over the next few months, fishing with mudeyes below bubble floats will be very productive if the last few springs are anything to go by. The spring fishing here is always better than the fishing in winter in my opinion.

The trolling has been a bit quiet with a lot of time between strikes. I’ve taken a few decent trout on gold Tylo spoons and Tassie Devil lures recently but only after a lot of work.

Flyfishing has been my most productive method of fishing Wartook lately. I drift while searching the water with a slow sinking fly line, using a large Mrs Simpson with a slow, erratic retrieve. Early mornings have produced the best fishing and shallow areas with deep water close by are good places to start this searching method.

The trout here feed heavily on minnow, small redfin and even their own kind. A recent catch of mine was a brown of 1.7kg that took a deeply fished Mrs Simpson. Upon cleaning, its stomach contents revealed it had been feeding on newly released brown trout yearlings and a small redfin.

I never fish Wartook expecting to catch a large number of trout but I can usually manage a few quality fish. Recently they’ve all been around 1.5kg plus and in fighting fit condition. For keen trout anglers after a bit of a challenge, Lake Wartook is well worth the effort.

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