Mothers Day, whilst most were out doing the “right” thing, having lunch and gifting yet another cook book or bunch of flowers, this year I was lucky enough to get a free pass, as my mother was pre-occupied with a craft market for the day. All that was required was a text and promise of catching up another time (ok so maybe I didn’t get out completely). So with my duties as a son out of the way, why waste the weekend. The car was packed and it was off fishing!
The plan was to head up to the Grampians, explore a few new waterways and ultimately try and catch a few trout and redfin. Along with me on the trip was Nathan Grass.
Our first location was the picturesque Lake Fyans, located a little over 15 minutes from the tourist town of Halls Gap.
We launched in the early hours of Sunday morning in complete darkness and slowly eased our way out into the lake, hoping not to hit any submerged trees or rocks, thankfully after a few miss guided turns we eventually found our way out into open water. It wasn’t until the sun crept over the horizon that we got our first glimpse of this pretty little lake.
After reading reports of showers and wind, we were pleasantly greeted with a gorgeous sunrise, scattered cloud and a small ripple on the surface of the water, everything looked like it was lining up to be a good day on the water.
Much of the lakes margins are surrounded by flooded timber, exposed reeds and expansive weed beds, ideal habitat for both trout and redfin, With so much of the lake looking “very fishy” it was a little hard to know where to start, so we pretty much started right from the ramp. Watching the sounder, it was soon apparent that vast weed beds were going to rule out a lot of lure styles, in some areas the weed was so thick it would reach from the bottom of the lake floor to the surface in 3.5m of water! A majority of the weed in this lake is what I refer to as ribbon weed or strap weed(I’m not to sure of its proper name). Of the aquatic weeds its one of the more “angler friendly” as lures can usually be ripped free without the trebles fouling should they get hung up.
After a bit of searching around we found some areas that were suitable for trolling and we began running a variety of shallow diving minnows, with the intention of fishing just above the top of the weed.
It wasn’t too long before we had our first strike and after a few jumps and some thrashing around on the surface, a nice female brown came to the net. After a few photos, she was released….straight into the livewell to become dinner for that night.
We soon resumed trolling and again, didn’t have to wait too long before we got another hit, this time it was Nath’s turn, his rod loaded up just when his lure had passed one of the many trees in the lake, initial thoughts were that it was another trout, but the fight was different from the one we had just caught, this fish was staying deep and had quite a bit of weight, it wasn’t until we got it close to the boat and saw its head rise from the deep that we realized that this was no trout, but a BIG redfin.
Having read a few articles before the trip, I knew that the lake had a reputation for producing big reddies in the past but never having fished here before I thought the chances of actually catching one were pretty slim. Measuring in at 47.5cms and approximately 2kgs this was the largest reddie that I have seen in the flesh. A few more photos and then it was back into the water, swimming off as if nothing had happened.
After the excitement of catching such a fish, we were pretty satisfied, knowing that whatever happened from here was just a bonus.
A few lure changes and some more weaving and maneuvering between the trees, and we soon had our third fish on board for the trip, a very well conditioned brown this time a male. The coloration of this fish was very different to the first, with a very dark belly and fins.
After that the action seemed to die off, a front began to move through and it was time to get off the water before being soaked. It proceeded to rain for a majority of the afternoon, only easing up for a couple of hours just before sunset where we snuck out for quick fish to finish off the day. Although trying similar techniques to earlier as well as casting amongst the vast stand of trees, we could only manage to raise another couple of fish both of which were dropped soon after hook up. We packed up the rods and headed to the cabin to warm up, cook some dinner and discuss the plan for tomorrow.
Having heard a few recent reports the decision was made to head to Lake Toolondo for our second and final day of fishing. Checking out of our cabin very early that morning, we made our way across the Grampians dodging some wildlife along the way.
After completely drying out during the drought, Lake Toolondo was brought back to life in 2011 after refilling and was stocked soon after, since then there have been several stockings to the sum of around 75000 fish.
We launched at the Northern end of the lake just before sunrise. Although the lake is currently only at 37% the ramp still extends well into the water, making launching and retrieving very easy for my 4.4m Makocraft. There was an average water depth of around 2.5 – 3 m through out the lake so getting around was not a problem. It was interesting to see that even though the lake is well below half full, the high water level on the trees was only about a meter from its current level. Another observation that we made here was that the water clarity of Toolondo was much clearer than that of Fyans, and also had a much broader variety of underwater vegetation.
The lake is divided into three “oval” shaped clearings, with vast stands of flooded timber between them, we worked the Northern and the Western clearings, trolling various types of lures around the lakes perimeter. The first fish came quite quickly, no more than 100m from where we had launched. We then proceeded to catch a fish about every hour or so, slowly working our way around the lake until we came across the windward bank on the Southern end of the lake. Here we managed to pull three fish in quick succession all falling victim to a Jackson Trout Tune.
We fished till about 1:30pm, finishing with a total of 7 trout both browns and rainbows and another 4 or 5 lost from pulled hooks. It was definitely evident that the increased stockings here, lead to more hits and more fish in the boat and fisheries should be commended on their efforts in bringing life back to this once dry lake.
It was time to pack up the boat and then hit the road for the long 5hr trip back. All in all we had a pretty good weekend and both lakes are worthy of a return trip in the future.
If your thinking of doing a bit of trout fishing this season, give these locations some thought, if the fishing is no good, at least you have the scenery to make up for it.
WHERE WE STAYED: Lake Fyans Holiday Village
LURES: FYANS – Zipbait Rigge Deep 56F, Norries Laydown Minnow, Rapala CD5 TOOLONDO – Rapala F7, Daiwa Double Clutch 60 & 75, Jackson Trout Tune,
TECHNIQUES: Casting & Trolling – Trolling speed was 2.8 – 3.5km/h with both the outboard and electric.
TARGETED AREAS: Weedbeds, edges and flooded timber.