The Victorian trout season is over for another year and we can now reflect on that season in East Gippsland. The rivers have received a good flow of cool water for most of the season.
During a very hot spell of about 2 weeks in February the rivers heated up quite significantly and there was a small fish kill in some of the rivers including the Mitta Mitta River. Luckily we received some quite cool summer weather immediately after this heat wave and the waters cooled down enough to save a lot of trout. But overall this year has been the worst season for about 10 years.
During the spring we saw good water flows in our rivers however the terrestrials that we normally find at that time of the year were in low numbers. These East Gippsland Rivers are not renowned for their mayfly hatches however they do have reasonable numbers of mayflies during late spring and early summer. This year the numbers were poor. We all eagerly awaited the grasshopper season however following an encouraging start in December, the grasshopper season never really happened. As a consequence the number of fish moving out of Dartmouth Dam and into the Mitta system to feast on the available food sources did not eventuate like it normally does. What we were left with was a fair number of smallish river fish.
Our major river, the Mitta Mitta River, has fished OK at times but overall the fishing has been just so-so. The upper section of the river, upstream of the Bundara River, has produced good numbers of small brown trout for most of the year however lower downstream in the Omeo Valley and Taylors Crossing area the fishing was poor most of the year. It finally came good in the last few weeks of the season when the water flows increased somewhat and the fish moved upstream from Dartmouth Dam ready to spawn. I fished the lower section of the river just before closing and was rewarded by some very good fishing. I caught a variety of rainbow and brown trout that were mostly between 500gm and 1kg. The largest was just over 1kg.
The Gibbo River was the saviour for the year. It held a large number of small rainbows together with a few larger browns almost all season. The entire river fished well early in the season however as summer heated up the fish tended to congregate in the section that flows beside the Benambra/Corryong Road. This section is well shaded by a canopy of gum trees.
The Bundara and Cobungra Rivers were quite disappointing. The Bundara fished well for a few weeks during spring however after that both rivers were quite low and the fishing was really hard. These two rivers are normally great hopper rivers but this year neither the hoppers nor the trout turned up for any length of time. Middle Creek produced a few trout early in the season but like the other two, fizzled out once summer hit. Livingston Creek normally holds a lot of small brown trout. This year was no exception and fishing was quite good until Christmas. Like most rivers in the area, the water dropped and the fish disappeared.
The Dargo Rivers were interesting. Fishing in this area has been almost non-existent for several years due to low water levels, high water temperatures as well as some pretty severe bush fires. This year however a good number of trout showed up particularly early in the season so hopefully we will get a good spawning year and things will improve even further next season.
The Timbarra River near Buchan, fished well in the spring. Fishing usually tapers off in this river once the hot days of summer arrive and this year was no exception. The river does hold good numbers of small browns so it should again fish well next spring.Reads: 2956