By Kevin Tyler
At this time of year a young man’s fancy turns to three things: ice, snow and fishing at Dartmouth.
Honestly, it is the best time of year to head for the hills and spend some quality time at what I believe to be one of the most picturesque places in the state — Lake Dartmouth, Victoria’s mecca of trout fishing.
That is enough superlatives. At this time of year the chill in the air and the drop in water temperature brings the trout to the surface and the need for down riggers and other weights to get to where the fish are feeding is not needed. There is nothing like fishing for trout with light gear, it becomes a tussle between just you and the fish.
Of course a wet and windy day is still a bit to bear, but a fine, sunny winter’s day on Lake Dartmouth takes a lot to beat; with a backdrop of snow-covered hills and the picture-perfect scenery, it becomes the stuff that postcards are made of.
Dartmouth is located in the high country and is about a three-hour drive from Shepparton. There is plenty of accommodation with cabins in the caravan park, a motel and some houses available to hire or, if you are the hardy type, you can camp out on the shores of the lake.
You can angle a bait or cast lures from the bank but the most popular and productive method of fishing at ‘‘the Dart’’ is from a boat using a Ford Fender trailing a lure or a bunch of worms or a mudeye.
The best time of day is still early morning but with the fish feeding near the surface they can be caught later into the day and into the evening. But be warned, you will need to rug up. Frosts form at night and hang around well into the day, making warm boots and gloves a necessity.
The cray season began last weekend and already I have had reports of some good hauls of spiny crays being taken in the Goulburn and Murray rivers. If you are going to target them, remember that the regulations are strict and the bag limit is just two per day.
Around the traps
Around this part of the world, the fishing has been patchy, with sections of the Goulburn fishing well, especially around Murchison and Toolamba and below the city near the golf course and downstream. Cod are also biting in the Murray around Cobram and below Mulwala. The Broken Creek near Nathalia, and where it runs into the Murray are also worth a try.
Redfin are still being caught at Eildon as well as Lake Eppalock near Bendigo, but at Waranga Basin the algae is still deterring anglers from trying their luck there.
Lake Eildon still seems to be the most popular spot and redfin, cod, yellowbelly and trout are providing plenty of options for fishing folk.
Rod Lawn, from Adamas Fishing Charters at Queenscliff, said this week on the water had been worthwhile with the late season snapper run starting to slow down, but calamari and flathead still on the bite.
He said the snapper were to be found offshore at Barwon Heads, but the squid were already in the bay between Lonsdale Pier and the cottage and the flathead were on the sandy bottom between the snapper reefs.
Rod said Western Port was providing anglers with flathead and leatherjacket as well as gummy shark, although the latter were to be found in the deep water off Cowes.
He said the best time was around dusk.
North of the border at Eden, John Liddell said snapper, morwong and other reef fish were being caught by anglers fishing close in between Boyd’s Lookout and Green Cape.
He said Mark from Freedom Charters was also bagging good hauls of flathead — some up to a metre in length — from around the Green Cape area, although the bigger fish were down deep.
John said there was not a lot of action off the shelf.
He said bluefin tuna had not put in an appearance yet but they should be around within the next week or so. The marlin have moved on and kingfish were becoming scarce as the bait fish head north to warmer water.
At Narooma, it was a similar story, according to Graham Cowley.
He said there was always plenty of reef fish, including snapper and morwong, as well as flathead and leatherjacket.
Graham said it was quiet off the shelf but to the northern end of Montague Island there was an occasional hook-up with some kingfish.
He said inside the bar, bream and large flathead were being caught using lures, bait and soft plastics fished around the oyster leases and other structures.