Five competitors departed the small picnic area outside Yea at 6 am. I was not one of them. As trip captain, I was meant to be there to sing the club song, give a speech and wish everyone well. However, owing to poor last second decisions, Jeff and I were one minute late and missed the morning rendezvous. This was not a good start to the day and it started with a 3:30am wake up for me.
Everyone decided to fish Eildon Pondage. Given the sodden spring we have had, and more rain forecast on the day, it was expected that the rivers would be too muddy to fish.
Most of us fished next to the football oval with a variety of baits – mussels, worms, power bait, maggots, mudeye. Jeff also spun the area with lures. Other than the odd oncer jumping way out of casting range, and a number of spiny freshwater crayfish being caught, nothing was sighted. Jeff spun portions of the Pondage with a variety of lures. He did see some decent fish in close but he wasn’t able to cast to them. Perhaps a careful approach of walking the banks and casting only to sighted fish may have paid off?
At about 10am Jeff and I decided to try the Goulburn, it couldn’t be any worse than the Pondage. After trying a few very snaggy spots high upstream, we settled on the area downstream of Gilmours Bridge. I kept using mussels as bait - a very boring way to fish and something I will never do again. Jeff spun a variety of water types and found trout holding consistently in the glides right at the top of runs. I think he caught 4-5 fish over the next hour or two including one 40cm model he weighed in at 475 grams.
At about 2pm we decided to try McMartins Lane so I could go back to the fly. The water was quite dirty, but I thought a large fly like Craig Coltman’s Dirty Water Nymph might work. After 20 minutes I found I was right, landing a 35cm fish I released in this short final session.
At the weigh in we found Stan Petkovic caught a 37cm 490 gram rainbow at the Pondage that won the competition. I think it was caught on worms at the bottom. A few other members fishing the Pondage had small bites but that was it. See more on the results at the competition website.
My lessons from this trip were – don’t fish with bait in rivers, it’s boring and limiting. The dirty water nymph works in dirty water. Funny that. The fish were holding just above the start of the runs, not an area I usually suspected. Lures are the way to go in murky water for sheer numbers compared to the Pondage. And as per usual, dramatically changing fishing venues is the way to go if things look dead at your current location.