Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra
Up our streams and rivers for trout
THE start of the new trout season is upon us and local fishermen and women are pulling out their rods, checking lures and baiting hooks as they prepare to get out and fish in earnest.
Whether you favour bait fishing with a sinker; using the weight of the lure to cast or if you prefer the elegance of fly fishing; imitating natural insects at different stages of their life cycle by using feathers and fur flies, the streams and rivers in the North East are waiting.
Trout season in rivers and streams opens this Saturday, September 4.
Getting out and about is, however, subject to the state’s prevailing COVID restrictions.
Wangaratta’s Greg Wood is one angler who, along with members of the Wangaratta Fly Fishing Club., are keen to get out as soon as restrictions allow.
“The closure between June and September is to allow the trout to spawn unmolested, thereby ensuring successful breeding each year to replenish the waterways,” Greg explained.
“Lakes can be fished year round but there are different size and catch limits between rivers and lakes.”
Greg believes North East Victoria has the best rivers and streams for trout in Australia.
“The waterways are predominately free stone which means rock and pebble bottoms, so fish have plenty of holding lies and food drifting down to them,” he said.
“The waterways around Wangaratta hold good numbers of fish, which can change seasonally, and they are opportunistic, which means relatively easy to catch.”
The Wangaratta Fly Fishing Club was founded in 1950 by 10 local identities - Vic Culph, Bill Law, Norm Gibb, Vern Deprada, Bill Just, Jack Law, Jack Ritchens, Digger Lazarrotto, Ron McKenzie and Jack Swain.
The club was established to provide an opportunity for like minded individuals to discuss knowledge and share a sport they loved - something that still occurs today.
“Ours is one of the oldest fly fishing clubs in Victoria and has continuously operated over the time,” said Greg.
“We currently have 25 members from Wangaratta, Yarrawonga and Benalla, but new members are always welcome.”
Ranging from 20 to 75 years old, the group regularly fishes the waterways around North East Victoria, the Snowy Mountains, Tasmania and New Zealand and conducts monthly fishing trips, camping on a river using the club catering trailer in the warmer months.
As a child, Greg started bait fishing with his father, moving onto lure casting before taking up fly fishing in 1992.
“I was unsuccessfully fishing lures to trout that were taking insects off the surface and I thought ‘there must be a better way to catch these’, thus I started down the journey of fly fishing,” he said.
“I think the pinnacle of fly fishing is sight fishing to a trout - the whole visual aspect: seeing the fish, casting to it, seeing it take the natural-looking fly off the surface and then landing it.”
The popularity of fly fishing has grown over the years and where historically it was a male-dominated sport and only undertaken by the well off, the past decade has seen such barriers fall with people from all walks of life taking it up.
“The equipment was all hand made and expensive and those partaking in the sport were snobbish, but more women have now taken up fly fishing and the sport is becoming representative of the general population,” Greg said.
His largest trout caught on fly weighed in at 5lbs, and earlier this year he landed a 4.5lb brown trout in a North East stream.
“The biggest trout I have ever caught on fly was a 7.5lb in New Zealand,” Greg said.
“I did hook an even bigger one over there, but landing them in fast water and light line is a different matter.
“The largest fish I have ever landed was a Murray cod out of Lake Mulwala on a surface fly.
“It wasn’t a monster like some of the ones that come out of there but it was big enough to get a smile on my face.”
The Wangaratta Fly Fishing Club meets at the Log Cabin in Chisholm Street Wangaratta on the first Wednesday of the month except for January, June and July and will hold its annual Introduction to Fly Fishing Course on Sunday, October 10.
“The course aims to introduce people to fly fishing with hands-on casting, explanations about what fly fishing is, what equipment is used, how to cast, stream craft, basic entomology (what insects are around when), flies to use and fly tying,” Greg said.
“It’s a great starting point to understand and get involved in the sport but bookings are
essential as there are limited places.”
For those who would like to take up fly fishing or to book a place in the upcoming course, contact Dave on 0447 381 481 or Bryan on 0411 423 351 or head along to
a club meeting.
“As with other forms of fishing you will still require a modest level of agility to walk the streams of the North East, but find any blue line on the map and just explore,” Greg encouraged.