Autumn checkup, Ballarat lakes

After a warm and dry start to March, my usual reconnaissance of the local lakes had been delayed. Then a string of more autumnal days this week (including single digit minimums) suggested today was the day to have a quick look around.

Stop 1 was Moorabool Reservoir, just up the road. Except for patches of shoreline mud, Moorabool looks great – a healthy 65% of capacity, and clear. It looked even better when Daniel and I sighted a nice fish smelting (if a little too far out) and soon after, watched a decent brown leap clear of the water within range. A few casts later, a fish I assume was the same one grabbed my Living Damsel but didn’t stick.

Casting towards the leaper.

Next stop was Hepburn Lagoon. The Goulburn-Murray Water website suggested the lake was a mere 37%, or 900ML. However, even with the current snap drought, that didn’t sound right. A look at the accompanying graph on the site showed a sudden and suspicious dive – something I’ve occasionally seen on this and similar sites. Sure enough, on arrival, Hepburn looked significantly higher, and an onsite technician confirmed the glitch – in fact, Hepburn is at 1200 ML, or 50% of capacity. Still low, but not exceptional for late March.

Hepburn, north-west corner.

The water quality was ordinary, with quite a bit of algae reducing the visibility to about 60cm. Again, while not exactly inspiring, fairly typical for Hepburn in late March. On the plus side, there was plenty of open water to fish between the thick strapweed beds. I’ve flagged Hepburn for a return visit on a cloudy day, or on evening.

Newlyn looks promising.

Just down the road, Newlyn looks really good. Nice and clear, and at 61% of capacity, there’s plenty of weed, but also plenty of open water to fish. We had to really rush this session, with Daniel due at an appointment he couldn’t really miss. And yep, just as we were reeling in to leave, a solid ‘goodbye fish’ rose twice.

Plenty of weed at Newlyn, but also plenty of open water.

I didn’t need a special trip to Wendouree. I’d looked at it a couple of days ago, confirming it remains the local lake to beat – a status it’s held for over a year now. The Ballarat Fly Fishers’ annual ‘Two-fly’ comp is on Wendouree this weekend (see club website) and if they get some cloud, I suspect there will be some impressive results.