Wily Winter Trout
  |  First Published: June 2009

It is never good when we hear about a fish kill. Mid May gave us just that scenario when Bullen Merri hit the news with reports of a fish kill. Memories of some huge kills in the past came to mind, but this time it was a bit different.

Numbers are hard to estimate, perhaps a thousand, but the size was what interested everyone. It seemed that only small new release fish died. Why? Fisheries are looking into the cause but there are always a few theories. One was that maybe the lake had a sulphur burp. To the uninformed it would be best described as a ‘fart in a bathtub’. Perhaps in this case more like a swimming pool. Only the fish in the immediate area would die. Another thought was perhaps stress. Maybe, but fisheries test the water before releasing fish. Hopefully the test on the dead fish will reveal all.

Purrumbete is where all the focus is at present with plenty of visitors to the lake. Clubs are making the lake very popular and it is good to see that with boat access and a park with some excellent amenities, people will still travel in these tougher times.

The fishing has been a bit slower but there is still good fishing to be had. Brown trout to 2.5kg are finding local gudgeon (bullheads) hard to resist, especially if fished a bit deeper under a float. Rainbow trout to 1.5kg prefer the good old mudeye fished under a float, with weed edges the best place to look. Redfin are still being taken with some rippers to 1.2kg.

I know I mentioned the rough weather last month and as yet it has not eventuated. It will, believe me, and when it does head for the south east side of the lake. You wont be alone. There will be plenty of plastics, flies and hard body lures being tossed into the rough water. There will also be plenty of fish being caught.

Salmon were all the talk a few months ago but I am afraid they seem to have gone quiet. In fact it seems we may not see any for a while. Fisheries had a small stocking in 2007, none in 2008 or in 2009 and it now seems possible we may not see any next year. On the positive side the lake got 45,000 trout last year and will receive the same again this year. For those who can remember, the lake was only stocked with rainbows and salmon originally and now the browns are definitely filling in any slack left by the salmon.

Other waters to have a look at locally in July will be the West Barwon Dam as it fills. Trout will feed along the edges of the rising water and it is always worth a cast of a Tassie Devil along the rock wall. Wurdi Buloc will also be on the rise. Some anglers using flies and lures have continued to catch good rainbows and browns leading up to winter. As the spawning urge cuts in, a lot of these fish will move to the channel entrance. This area is worth a look, remembering the no fishing signs.

As for Bullen Merri, we can only wait.

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