It’s the first blast of really cold autumn weather that usually has me thinking seriously about the central Victorian lakes. So, after such a system hit last week, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to head out and see how these waters are going and the last three days provided that. It hasn’t been one solid session, but rather a series of visits when the chance arrived.
First the bad news: Moorabool Reservoir is currently closed due, apparently, to blue-green algae. This lake, like most, is at a good level for mid-autumn and looks pretty clear from the road. Let’s hope CHW reopen it soon.
Fortunately, that was the only negative of the last few days. Hepburn Lagoon is a little discoloured with about 2-3ft viso, depending on where the prevailing wind is blowing. However, it too is holding a good head of water for this time of year at 55%. There’s lots of weed of course, but also plenty of open water, particularly along the north-west shore. I don’t normally like fishing Hepburn under bright conditions. However the colour in the water gave me faith that I might be able to flog one up, and after a couple of hours, I picked up a nice rainbow on a Woolly Bugger MKII. I saw one other big fish porpoise beyond range.
Newlyn is arguably the prettiest lake in the area at present – very clear, 70% and the weed is light enough that you can fish a wet fly just about anywhere. I timed my visit for an early afternoon autumn dun hatch. Alas, the cloud stayed away, but I still saw a trickle of duns and the shore swarmed with spinners, so the duns must be hatching well under the right conditions. (Saturday maybe if the cloud comes in in time?) My tactic would be to bring a mate and work a side of the lake each. Newlyn duns rarely hatch everywhere at once, so keep in touch by mobile phone and if one of you finds a hatch, the other can come running!
The clear highlight of the last few days was Cosgrave Reservoir just now. At 60%, this tree-lined lake is at the perfect height to enable easy shore access (if a little steep in places) while still keeping the forest – and windfall – close to the water’s edge. Don’t be fooled by the murky-looking water; clarity is actually quite good at 1 metre plus. It just looks bad from a distance because Cosgrave is so uniformly deep.
Although the day has been beautifully warm at 20C, at first I worried it might be too windy – despite Cosgrave being very sheltered, when it’s too windy, the gusts and swirls can push the food all over the place. With that, the trout are scattered too and the consistent autumn dry fly fishing that I love on lakes like this one, Wombat, Bullarto, Lauriston and Wartook, dies away.
However, today I was in luck and despite the wind, on a number of shores I found concentrations of leaves on the water – always a good sign. Sure enough, the rainbows and an odd brown were rising well; often only a metre or two off the bank. You had to be super quick and accurate to get the fly in front of the rainbows, which really motored along. They weren’t fussy about the fly though – I fished a Claret Carrot and a brown Paradun about a metre apart for coverage, and I caught two rainbows on each, and missed a brown.
I left them rising to come home and post this blog, so the last part of this post (and the last pics) are only an hour or so old – almost live! Looking at this weekend’s forecast, at first there may be more of this sort of fishing on the lakes listed two paragraphs above. Sunday’s cold, wet blast will kill it (maybe perfect for Hepburn?) but when the weather settles down again midweek, the trout on the forested shores should be up once more. By the way, maximum water temps are down to 15-16C up here, so the trout everywhere will be loving that.