Get excited about trout stocking
  |  First Published: July 2017

July is a tough time of the year to fish in North East Victoria. There are still fishing options available for the keen Murray cod and redfin angler, however, trout really dominate the fishing during July for a number of reasons.

Let’s start with Murray cod. Winter Murray cod fishing in the Ovens River catchment is usually slow at best. Whether we can actually go fishing during July is largely dependent on the weather. If we get too much rain, the entire catchment might be too high and dirty.

If we don’t get a lot of rain, the river may well be in a fishable state, however the Murray cod fishing will most likely be very quiet. If the river looks good, by all means it will be worth fishing. Just don’t go down there expecting to catch good numbers of cod.

Lake Mulwala is a much more consistent Murray cod fishery in the winter months than anywhere in the Ovens River catchment. The Bundalong area can be well worth a look during July as the far lower reaches of the Ovens River are backed up by the waters of Lake Mulwala.

If you are heading down that way in July, try trolling with huge hardbody lures – the bigger, the better. Try and play on the Murray cod’s aggressive nature rather than tempting it to strike for a feed.

Redfin are a largely unpredictable fish at the best of times. Some years they are really prolific and other years they are as rare as anything! This autumn we have seen some truly amazing redfin fishing in North East Victoria, with Lake Buffalo being the standout fishery.

During July it will still be worth heading to Lake Buffalo to see if you can catch a redfin. I have had some great redfin fishing sessions up there in winter in the past and I have also had some very poor winter fishing sessions up there.

If you’re hoping to catch a winter redfin in North East Victoria this year, my first stop would be Lake Buffalo followed by Lake William Hovell. In both lakes, try fishing with small yabbies and soft plastics and fish down very deep where the water is likely to be a bit warmer than it is closer to the surface.

Trout fishing in July is confined to lakes and the many family-friendly waterways around the region. If you’re after a wild trout, head to Lake William Hovell. The trout fishing can be fantastic up there in July. I like to troll winged lures like Tassie Devils or small minnow-style lures, focussing on the low light periods of the day.

Once the sun gets higher in the sky, I like to swap my trolling lures for a small 7g blade. With blades, you can allow them to sink or you can work them shallow. They can be worked anywhere in the water column. I believe that blades are one of the most underused and underrated trout lures on the market.

At the end of June, Victorian fisheries stocked yearling rainbow trout into the many family-friendly waterways in the Ovens River catchment in time for the winter school holidays. As with previous years, Fosters Lake in Glenrowan received 200 ready-to-catch rainbow trout, Lake Sambell in Beechworth 400, everybody’s favourite Stanley Ditch Dam 350, and, very excitingly, the brand new family-friendly fishery Merriwa Park Lake also received a stocking!

Merriwa Park Lake

This year will see the very first official stocking of ready-to-catch rainbow trout into the Merriwa Park Lake in Wangaratta. I am unsure of exactly how many fish will be stocked, but it will be a significant number.

Merriwa Park Lake is in Merriwa Park, a stone’s throw from the main street. The lake that is earmarked to be stocked is the larger pond behind the tennis courts. Last year there was a surprise stocking of trout into the Merriwa Park Lake, but due to a technical glitch they were placed into the wrong pond.

This year they will be going into the larger pond behind the tennis courts for a number of reasons. The larger pond is much deeper and was the Wangaratta Swimming Pool up until 1953. I have sounded it out finder and it is 9ft deep in the middle. The water quality is much better, as the pond on the other side of the park sits underneath banks which have had buildings on them for over 150 years. Lastly, it is a bit out of the way from people walking their dogs, feeding the ducks, family picnics and more.

This is a very exciting time for Wangaratta. I strongly encourage everybody to pick up their rubbish and take it home. Look after the newly created fishery to ensure that we continue to get fish put in there every winter.

Just to put icing on the cake, this Merriwa Park Lake was stocked with 2000 silver perch fry earlier this year. With very few predatory fish in the pond since the stocking, their survival rate will be great. Once the trout are there a few may disappear, however I am confident that we will be catching silver perch in the Merriwa Park Lake next summer.

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