Mixed bag in NE Victoria

As has been mentioned before this year, you take your opportunities to fish when you can. So with Christmas fast approaching and an almost full dance card of social and work commitments, I was happy to jump at an opportunity to fish the Ovens and Kiewa valleys with young friends Cale and Riley for a day and a bit last week.

We met up in Bright and the boys were quick to recount their fishing escapades on the Kiewa River the day before. They reported tough fishing (isn’t it always on this tailwater!), with higher than desirable flows, and murky water. However, before I could offer my commiserations, they elaborated: they had in fact landed 6 fish, including an absolute stonker anyone would be proud of. These boys are starting to make a habit of catching oversized browns. “Sheesh,” I sighed, “What are you complaining about?”

Big Kiewa brown.

Speaking of complaint, or at least disquiet, as we headed to one of my favourite spots on the Ovens River, I noticed an elaborate bike track had been built. This track now spans from Bright through to the trout farm below Harrietville. It runs for several kilometres right along the river. Much clearing and tree removal has been done and the track is surfaced with bitumen. To be honest, I was a little surprised to see this. Seepage is evident and the riverbanks don’t appear to be as secure as they used to be.

Ovens bike track.

I have no issue with everyone having access to our beautiful rivers and forests, but I am in two minds about this project. I will keep an eye on it… as well as my back-casts in case I snag a passing cyclist!

Now to the fishing. It was good! A little bit on and off, yet we all caught some lovely, healthy rainbows and browns. The flows are still quite high and the water cold. To have such conditions well into summer, is gold.

Meandering runs.

The trout we caught were mainly located in the most perfect runs – narrow meandering runs with depth. The shallower riffles and broader runs were not as productive as I thought they should be.

Dark brown beaded nymphs worked well, and certain section of the river gifted brief hatches and exciting surface takes (some giant red spinners were mesmerising to watch). The odd fish polaroided here and there and a good fish at the end of Cale’s line making a bee-line into snags and liberty, made for another fantastic day on the water.

Another fat brownie. The trout are doing particularly well this year.

New bike tracks or not, this region remains a spectacular part of Australia. With continued mild weather and heathy rainfall, I truly think this will be a season to remember.