The thirteen anglers that journeyed to Lake Toolondo in western Victoria had high expectations of many trophy trout but unfortunately un-cooperative fish, low water and a lake full of weed that inhibited good angling dashed their hopes. The members settled into the Horsham Anglers lodge in the Wash Tomorrow Caravan Park on the Friday. The early arrivals went out on a fire wood detail to ensure a good fire took the chill of the air. A little rain was around but the forecast was good for Saturday.
The very keen were out on the water early Saturday trolling, bait and fly-fishing with little success in excellent conditions. Only two trout were taken on the Saturday. Gordon McDonald who was spinning with Tassie Devils took a very nice brown of 1.46kgs from a drifting boat and Daniel Trafford landed a brown of 0.745kgs on mudeye. Other than a couple of hard luck stories all was disappointingly quiet.
Sunday was also a bit of a dud with not a lot of action. Three trout and a redfin was all the reward for a lot of effort. Stuart Taylor did best with two fish including a lovely brown trout that tipped the scales at 2.085 kgs cleaned weight.
A number of incidents scored high points in loose bearing awards with the clear winner being a gentleman who likes to wear tweed jackets and funny ties. He threw his drogue overboard to reduce the rate of drift but did not realize you had to tie it on first. Other commendable performances were three anglers having navigational difficulties on the road after dark and an intrepid angler who managed to fill up chest waders with water whilst launching a boat - not once but twice. The man in tweed also left his swag open to the elements. I presume he forgot rain wets stuff.
Stuart Taylor won the competition with a gallant Daniel Trafford winning the second award. The lack of fish was compensated by some wonderful companionship and humour.
The fishing at Toolondo last weekend could only be described as tough. Coming from me, that doesn’t mean much but I have the collective reports of the Preston Northcote Angling Club, Yarra Valley Fly Fishers and the St Albans Fishing Club. The Yarra Valley guys had some very experienced fisherman in their ranks including a competition angler whose name I think was Daniel (you can see him in my YouTube video). The bottom line was that Toolondo hasn’t been stocked since 2013 (can anyone confirm?) and since then there has been huge publicity which has brought many fisherman to the lake denuding it of fish.
Our club of 13 managed 5 fish in two days. Three guys from St Albans fished for 4 days for nothing! Yarra Valley out fished us with 9 anglers also catching 5 fish over two days. However I don’t think they put as much time on the water as our guys. So there you go, fly fishing can be more productive than trolling!
On the other hand, the fish being caught were impressive. Most were over the 2kg mark with one unusual specimen at 800 grams. If the lake hadn’t been stocked, what was this guy doing in there?
I am always looking for hints on how other fishing methods can help my fly fishing. A master bait fisherman in our club couldn’t manage a fish on live gudgeon – generally the best bait going round. Mudeye under a bubble float also wasn’t working too well. So given the poor performance of bait, which suggested realistic imitations like nymphs might not work, woolly buggers seemed like the right fly to be using to induce an aggression strike.
Daniel from Yarra Valley said I should be stripping orange and coral woolly buggers fast on a sinking line so I defaulted to that approach with some flies he gave me (on ya mate!). I also spent some time dragging bibio hoppers/carrots though the waves with a small wet behind. Both evenings I stayed until it was quite dark looking for an evening rise. Although nothing was sighted I did drag a claret carrot and trailing midge while we were looking. I saw and caught nothing, not even a touch. My boating partner had one follow for the two days; a brief glimpse of a fish was all he was rewarded with. Most guys who reported fish got sudden hook ups so the fish weren’t being tentative on fly or lures there was just a long wait between them.
At the end of the trip it seemed the top lake was fishing better than the bottom lake. And the area between the deep water (the lake is only 2.4m deep) and the shore was the best place to try. If I had my time over, I would have put some solid hours into that zone. As it happens I mainly fished the middle of the lake during the day with a few sessions in close at morning and night.
I would not recommend this lake to anyone except a hardened masochist. They need to stock the place for it to become worthwhile. Give the range of people I talked to, this is the only explanation I can give you for the poor results. Then again perhaps the fish were off – as usual, you can never know! If there isn’t serious rainfall this winter, Rocklands won’t fill and no more water will be put into Toolondo. This will result in its inevitable demise over summer and perhaps the end of this fishery until the next big floods.