Back to the lakes

Sometime in the last week or so, it felt like the winter switch had been flicked. For one thing, up here in Victoria’s central highlands, the firewood index has shown a sharp uptick. Consumption has gone from a pleasant evening option, to a 24 hour essential.

Out on the water, this switch has played out in part as a change from stream fishing, to lake fishing. Over the decades, I’ve noticed this transition usually occurs (for me at least) sometime between the end of April, and the first two weeks of May. This year, it pushed out to the mid-May end of the Bell Curve, so I have no complaints.

Lake time, Talbot Reservoir

For the benefit of those who like their flyfishing nice and tidy, I should stress there’s no black-and-white demarcation here. It’s not as if one day streams are worth fishing, but the next day, only the lakes. Stream fishing will continue to be an option right up until Kings Birthday. Rather, for me at least, some sort of vague point is reached where the consistent, quality fishing I’ve come to expect on the streams, has slipped. Simultaneously, the lake fishing – which has up until now taken second place – has pushed up past the river option. I’m sure there will be moments, even hours, when the streams will still turn on some good fishing. However personally, I now feel as if my time is better spent on the lakes (and as soon as I can get organised, the estuaries as well).

So far, the ‘lake time’ instinct hasn’t let me down. From the Grampians, to the waters nearer home, the trout have been cooperative – at least by lake trout standards. It has certainly taken a bit of readjustment from the comparative ‘sugar hit’ of walking up to a stream and within a few minutes, at least encountering a trout. As (nearly) always, the lakes require a greater investment of time and effort.

Return on investment.

A classic case study was last week at Lake Fyans with Daniel. The lake looked really good, yet after an hour, I hadn’t seen a fish. I’d dropped Daniel off on a shore back behind me, the idea being that we would cover twice the water, and alert each other if we found some action. Daniel fished his shore for no result, but as he reached the point where I had started (now a couple of hundred metres behind me) he called out that three fish were rising.

Sure enough, as I walked back, I could see rises where less than an hour earlier, there had been nothing. Apparently, some minor change in conditions had the trout up midging, and some exciting fishing ensued. For the next couple of hours, a pattern developed where three or four fish would get up and provide decent targets, then mysteriously vanish again. Once more though, spreading out and keeping in touch, meant we could both get together to capitalise on these seemingly random bursts of action.

One of the Fyans fish Daniel called me back for.

Meanwhile, as with every lake season, I’m trying to make good decisions about locations based on the fundamentals. (More about this in an upcoming feature.) However, the fundamentals don’t always play out as expected – for example, perhaps the wind is stronger than forecast, or not even from the forecast direction. That’s when a willingness to move can help – either to a completely different shore, or even a different lake. Obviously, there’s a balance to be struck here between being too ‘flighty’, and flogging a lost cause. Still, a couple of times lately, a considered move has saved the day.

Lake Bellfield – persist or move?

So, it’s lake time again. As I write, I’m about to put on a couple of extra layers, recheck the wind forecast, and head out. I’m not expecting fast and furious action, but if I catch a trout, it will probably be a good one.