Mask up and cast a line

By John Lewis

We are fast approaching the season of change; the last month of winter is about to begin, then comes the close of the cod season on September 1 and the re-opening of the trout season on September 5.

This winter has been a mixture of severe cold, wind, rain and some exceptionally nice weather in between.

Happily, the fishing has continued to be good, as many local anglers can attest.

Redfin are on the bite, and Waranga Basin, and lakes Eildon, Eppalock and William Hovel are all worth a try.

The wattle is now in bloom, and as my old rod-making mate Bob Darley used to say, this is the time to fish for yellowbelly.

A bunch of worms, a small yabby or even a lure will tempt these natives. The secret is to use as little weight as possible and a running sinker.

Cod are still on the bite and I am still hearing of anglers catching an occasional meter-plus fish as well as plenty of keeper size.

The Murray River, being in NSW, is still out of bounds to we Victorians, but the Goulburn and Broken rivers are worth trying and the Broken Creek around Nathalia can sometimes produce some good fishing.

At this time of year I like to head to Lake Dartmouth in the high country and fish for trout.

While some rivers and streams are closed for trout fishing, Dartmouth is open year-round and trolling a Ford Fender trailing a mudeye, bunch of worms or even a lure will get results.

At this time of year the cold weather brings the fish to the surface to feed, so there is no need for a weight or other gear to reach them.

The same method works well at Eildon for trout, and fishing the river arms in the early morning will get results.

I have heard there are still trophy-sized fish in Lake Eildon. Also out of left field for trout is Hume Weir; while filled by the Murray River, it is considered to be in Victoria — unlike Lake Mulwala which is over the border and therefore off-limits to we Mexicans.

But by far the most popular spot is Lake Eildon, for a couple of reasons: it has plenty of ramps for boat launching, and a great variety of fish species to hunt — cod, yellowbelly, trout and redfin, you can target them all at the one location.

It won't be long before the channels are filled and supply yet another option for anglers to target mainly redfin but also silver perch and yellowbelly as well as an occasional cod — or even a trout.

The Main Eastern is the most popular, but don't discount the smaller feeder waterways as well.

The Goulburn River is still running at a higher than normal level for this time of year, so a fair bit of work is needed to locate fish. A boat is the best option as bank fishing is still dangerous due to their slipperiness — you do not want to fall in the water.

Yes, it is an interesting time of year as we move from winter towards spring.

It has been a different kind of year due to coronavirus — but it is what it is, and we will just have to go with the flow.

I am still keeping in contact with the boys on the coast just to see what they are up to. Unfortunately for Rod Lawn and Peter Smallwood at Queenscliff they are locked down and can only go fishing on their own. In NSW, Mark from Freedom Charters at Eden said that as long as they could maintain social distancing they could still operate; and the same goes for the charter boats at Narooma, according to Graham Cowley.

I have a friend who is in the middle of shifting from the region and is heading to Asheville at the head of Lakes Entrance; this will of course require me to head off for a visit on the odd occasion to give the occasional fishing lesson, more on that in the future.

So, once again, I urge you to do all the right things: sanitise your hands, wear a mask, keep a metre-and-a-half distance from others, knock elbows instead of shaking hands — and stay safe.