There’s fish To be caught
As water started to again run into the region’s mighty Rocklands Reservoir as a result of this year’s widespread rain, some of us couldn’t help but think about just how good this massive dam can be for angling.
For the uninitiated, Rocklands Reservoir is roughly on the border of the Wimmera and Western District, nestled between the Grampians and Black Range and part of a sprawling Glenelg River that runs south to the coast at Nelson.
What’s obvious about the reservoir is its sheer size. It’s a monster and with a capacity of 296,000 megalitres has the potential to hold a third of the overall Wimmera-mallee water supply. It also has a shoreline of more than 400 kilometres. Even at a quarter full it is a massive body of water.
But what about the fishing? There are many tall tales about great catches right across the expanses of the dam – from popular Glendinning and Brodies, Mountain Dam to the dam wall and in wet years, right up at the northern section at Hynes. And with all the water flowing into Rocklands this year, we couldn’t help but contemplate the idea that we might one day be in a situation where we are again chasing redfin and trout in the northern reaches.
Far too many years ago in the early 1980s it was at the camp at Hynes, accessible from a Henty Highway turn-off at Glenisla, that a couple of enthusiastic young anglers were ‘spoilt’ forever from their experience fishing among the Rocklands timber.
Rocklands is renowned for producing big redfin, occasionally up to the three-kilogram mark, and is also a superb trout-fishing water. These days there are now also hardfighting bass and of course carp in the lake.
On a particular wintry day after a wet season had topped up the reservoir, our fishing party, which also included a couple of veteran-angling adults, made the trip to Hynes with jolly expectation.
As young blokes, a mate and I had less expectation, having toiled with limited success with bank fishing despite having all the ‘right’ spinners of the time and bait.
What was amazing on arrival at Hynes, where Horsham Angling Club has an accommodation lodge, was the amount of people busying themselves with camps and gear. Boats were departing and arriving at the foreshore regularly and the immediate thoughts from us two tag-alongs was a hope that these seasoned anglers ‘left some for us’.
But from all reports the fishing to that date hadn’t been too flash.
Word was coming in that the fishing was ‘slow’ and despite calm reassurances from the elders of our party, my mate and I quietly shared a collective groan.
Cold and damp
It was drizzling and the water lapping on the edge of our boat as we motored off towards the stands of ghostly dead trees dotted across the lake, was a deep blue.
It was overcast and cold and we shivered, our hands plunged deeply into pockets, as we sat in the back seats near the outboard.
We stopped at one tree and fished briefly for no results except a tiny juvenile redfin we didn’t know was on the line. As was the rule of the day – no bite, no stay.
We putted along a bit further and tied onto another tree in what appeared to be deep water. The two older companions up the front pondered over bait – one went for a lure, the other for a yabby. Us in the back, still shivering, went for the simple option of worms to bob over the side.
In what seemed only a matter of moments the tips of our rods in the back of the boat suddenly jagged savagely downward. Bang!
After collecting ourselves we reeled in enthusiastically, which took a while considering the depth, and were delighted with two pan-sized reddies.
Back in the water and again – bang, bang! And again, and again. While the veterans up the front scrambled to switch to worms we hauled in fish after fish that only seemed to get bigger and harder to get into the boat.
At one stage most of my mate’s rod was bent so far it was half in the water as he struggled with a big fish.
We had obviously dropped onto a large and hungry school of redfin and were quickly filling an esky. It was amazing and remains my most profound freshwater fishing experience.
We might have stayed longer had the weather not continued to deteriorate but after about three quarters of an hour of frenetic fishing, decided to return to camp.
Of course the eyes of people back at Hynes widened when we lugged the esky to shore.
We didn’t bother weighing them, but they were good fish and there was a lot of them.
After lining them up on the grass to admire our handiwork and argue who had caught the largest specimen, we were reminded that the rule was that if you caught them, you had to clean them.
We didn’t know how to fillet properly but from memory, scaling and gutting the fish took longer than it took to catch them.
It’s an experience forever burnt in the memory and a reminder of the recreational fishing opportunities we have in our part of the world when we have water.
Many others have similar tales of Rocklands fishing, either involving redfin or trout.
The timbered area at Glendinning is renowned for trout, perhaps because of an abundance of mudeye and bait fish, and deep water at the wall has a habit of producing big reddies.
Lakes across the Wimmera,
Mallee and Grampians have all received a new flush of water after extensive winter and spring rain, opening the door for many recreational water actives.
From high in the upper catchment in the Pyrenees to the heart of the Wimmera and beyond to the Mallee and west Wimmera lakes country, lakes are glistening and primed for visitors.
Many of the destinations have camping and sightseeing facilities with information available from information centres or shire offices.
• Recreational water map, pages 30 and 31.
Green Lake. Picture: KELLY LAIRD