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Southwest Success – Trout Fishing Victoria’s Crater Lakes

With a forecast of overcast conditions, light winds, a high barometer coupled with the bonus of having Monday off work, Nathan Grass and myself made the decision to head South-West in search of our spotted freshwater friends, trout.

We arrived at the Lake Purrumbete Caravan park late Friday night, we unpacked, rigged a few rods and settled in for an early start the next morning.

Waking up bright and early to a relatively mild morning with a gentle breeze and a light covering of fog, things were shaping up nicely for a good day on the water. We quickly rigged the boat and headed over to the ramp some 150m from our cabin doorstep. Funnily enough not another soul seemed to be awake at that time of the morning so we quietly launched and headed out onto the lake.

Making our way out through the shallow weedy channel, we hit the open water and began trolling a weed edge on the southern shore of the lake. Our first strike came mere minutes after setting out the first line.

Now for those that have trolled in the dark before, you will most probably know how quickly things can go from “under control” to chaos in a matter of seconds. Once a fish is hooked the first thing that should be done is to clear the other lines to avoid a tangled mess. Well I’m not to sure whether it was the excitement of the first strike for the day or the miss-guided attitude of “It’ll be right”, but we made the mistake of leaving our remaining rods in whilst fighting the fish.  Although not a huge fish, it still managed to run its way around all our other lines, creating an entanglement of braid, leader and lures in the process. After a few feeble attempts at untangling, we made the decision to land the fish and deal with the mess later.

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After wasting about 10 minutes un-tying furballs of braid, snipping off lures and and retying leaders, we reset the spread and began trolling. Within 5mins my lure was crunched again, and this felt like a much better fish.

Unfortunately, with every trip there’s always the “one that got away” story, and this happened to be it.

Clearing the lines to avoid the disaster of the previous fish, everything was going right, I was taking it easy on the fish, making sure not to pull the hooks as it thrashed its head from side to side underwater trying to free the lure. We managed to get the fish next to the boat and get a look at it, a nice big buck estimated at around 5lbs+. Looking for the opportune moment to land the fish, its head surfaced and we took a shot with the net and victory was ours…..or so we thought. How quickly things can change….as Nath lifted the net out of the water, the fish made a last ditch effort to escape capture and with a few flaps and tumbles, it manages to throw my lure and jump out of the net almost at the same time, swimming straight back to the depths of the lake, taking our elation with it.

We worked over the same area for another few runs but we couldn’t get another touch. Maybe it was the time wasted untangling our lines meaning we missed the bite, or maybe we were being punished for the lack of fish landing skill but it seemed our great start seemed to be heading south. It would take another 5hrs of trolling and casting before another fish was in the boat.

CHANGE OF TACTICS

After spending the remainder of the morning trolling with not even a hit, we returned to the ramp, so that i could grab my sunnies which i had left in the car. As we motored back through the narrow channel into the shallows, we noticed a number of decent fish darting away from the boat, we left the area and started casting small hard-bodies into the surrounding shallows for half an hour or so before moving our way back out into the lake.

Approaching the channel once again, we peppered the spots where we had previously seen the fish. I thought i would tie on a 3″ Berkley Bass minnow for something different and the pumkinseed colour was the closest I had to representing the small gudgeon and bullhead the trout feed on. Placing a cast to nearly exactly the spot where we had seen the fish 30mins earlier the water erupted and my reel started to scream as a nice fish grabbed my lure.

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Sticking with the plastics, we worked our way out into the lake, working the deep drop off on the weed edge. Casting parallel to the weed, 50m-100m off the edge seemed to be the key with most fish responding to a fast jerky retrieve , high in the water column with very few stops or pauses.

Over the next two hours, I experienced one of the best trout bites Ive seen, managing to land 6 fish, with numerous other hits and follows.The fish just seemed to be switched on!

At one stage I had 5-6 big angry brown trout chase down my lure,  like a pack of Australian Salmon or Kingfish. Spectacular to watch but equally frustrating, as they would come in and nose the lure before turning away at the last second. For the next four casts the same fish chased out my offering, I tried a number of different techniques like slowing my retrieve, ripping it away from them, and letting it sink, to get them to bite but they just wouldn’t commit.

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Lake Purrumbete browns have to be some of the best fighting trout that Ive caught. They were all in extremely good condition, very fit and fought it out all the way to the boat. Some jumping clear out of the water and taking screaming runs in the process.

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Interesting to note was that this hot bite occurred during the middle of the day, in bright sunny conditions, contrary to when most people would associate peak feeding times for trout. At about 2pm the lake started to glass off and the action slowed with it.

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SEEKING GREENER PASTURES

Sunday saw us head further south, this time down to the Curdies River to target some winter bream and perch.

Having been told the fish were low in the system we left the ramp and headed downstream towards the lake at Peterborough. Sounding around at various spots along the way for schools of fish.

We made our way all the way down to the bottom of the river, with hardly a fish showing up on the sounder.

Fishing the lower reached of the river and then also out into the lake for no avail we decided to head back upstream for a look. We kept motoring our way back up the river until we finally found the fish schooled up some 500m from where we launched. We initially had trouble staying on the fish, as they seemed to be moving quite quickly, something which i hadn’t seen before.

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Trying a variety of methods, Nath hooked and landed a small bream on a Daiwa Spike. That happened to be the only bream for the day and apart from a few small Australain salmon. The place seemed to be pretty quiet and unrewarding for us.

We later spotted a seal working the area around the bridge, which may explain the haste in which the schools were moving and also might have been why the fish were not feeding. We left the Curdies at lunch time and headed back to Purrumbete for the afternoon hoping to get onto another bite.

In stark contrast to the previous day, conditions looked perfect, it was overcast, scattered rain, and a decent chop on the water, however the action seemed to be non existent and we struggled to put a fish in the boat, with Nath landing a small Chinook Salmon, towards the end of the day.

BULLEN MERRI – CHINOOK CITY

On Monday we deciding to spend half the day at Lake Bullen Merri before heading home. After hearing whispers about a few recent bass captures, we had to at least have a look.

Although we found the bass schooled up, the wind was kicking up right across the lake, and it made fishing difficult, we struggled to stay ontop of the fish with the electric on full speed and the boat was bouncing all over the place.

Trout trolling seemed to be the better option so we spent most of the morning trolling around the lakes perimeter. Although hoping for a larger fish, all we could manage was a couple of small rainbows a heap of the newly released Chinook salmon that have been stocked into the lake. These fish seemed to be in great condition, all fat little fish, Nath even caught one that had its throat full of whitebait, and it still had a crack at a double clutch. It seems that these things are eating machines. It will be interesting to see how they go in the next few years and see if they can get to the sizes of years past.

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Overall had a pretty good trip thanks to sensational fishing on the first day. For those wanting to do a bit of trout fishing, now’s the perfect time,  head down to Lake Purrumbete and the surrounding lakes in the region and give it a go!

THE FACTS

WHERE WE STAYED:

Lake Purrumbete Caravan Park

LURES:

Purrumbete – Berkley 3″ Pumkinseed Bass Minnows, Jackall TN 60s

Bullen Merri – Daiwa Double Clutch 60 & 75, Tassie Deils, Jackall Squad Shad 75

TECHNIQUES: Casting & Trolling – Trolling speed was 3 – 3.5km/h

TARGETED AREAS: Deep Weed Edges

Written by:

Published on: July 5, 2013

Filled Under: REPORTS

Views: 9561

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One Response to Southwest Success – Trout Fishing Victoria’s Crater Lakes

  1. darren@backcountryfishing.com.au' Darren says:

    Great read mate, the western lakes are one place we are yet to visit, but it’s definately on our list, and looks like it can really fire at times. Cheers, Darren (BackcountryFishing)

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