The Shire of Murrindindi and surrounds offers some of the best recreational fishing opportunities in Victoria. Here fishers are spoilt for choice with pristine mountain streams, the Goulburn River tailrace fishery and, of course, the majestic Lake Eildon. Framed by mountains, hills and green pastures, this region is renowned for its wonderful and diverse fishing. It is also home to the most popular river and lake fishing destinations in Victoria – Lake Eildon and the Goulburn River near Thornton.
Surveys by the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) show more than 200,000 anglers value North East Victoria as their preferred fishing destination with more than 50,000 fishers going fishing there each year. Moreover, the annual economic benefits from fishing-related tourism in this region are estimated at more than $200 million dollars. Anglers visiting the Murrindindi region chase brown trout, rainbow trout, redfin, Murray cod and golden perch.
The VFA is expanding its fish stocking program, and in 2021 more than 10 million fish including 12 species were stocked into 239 waterways throughout Victoria. This has helped recover threatened fish and created exciting new fisheries, particularly in the Murrindindi region. In the last decade, more than 6.3 million fish (Murray cod, golden perch, and trout) were stocked into Lake Eildon. In the last few years, the VFA has also stocked hundreds of huge (3 to 6 kg) broodfish rainbow trout ‘stonkers’ at accessible land-based locations along the Goulburn River. This has extended the long tradition of releasing ex-broodfish from the Snobs Creek hatchery into the Eildon Pondage.
Fish and tips
Brown and rainbow trout are abundant in the cool rivers and creeks of this region. Favourite fishing methods include walking along rivers and creeks and casting lures (spinners, small diving lures and soft plastic) or fly fishing (wet fly fishing year-round and dry fly fishing in the warmer months). Bait fishing is also popular, which can be active (drifting a weighted worm down a river reach) or passive (sitting back and waiting for a bite, using worms, PowerBait, mudeye and other local baits). Most creeks and rivers hold strong populations of trout year-round, but fishing is closed in many of these waters between June to September to protect spawning fish. Trout are also readily caught in Lake Eildon by flat trolling Tassie Devils or diving lures or by using paravanes or downriggers. Trout prefer cooler and deeper water during summer, so getting the lure down at this time of the year can work very well.
Redfin can be found in deeper pools of larger rivers but are most often targeted in Lake Eildon. They travel in large schools and are often found at the base of submerged trees. Here anglers use worms for bait, small jigs, blades, or lipless crankbaits. The general rule is, if you haven’t caught a “reddie” in 10 minutes, move to the next tree and repeat. Depth sounders are very handy to locate redfin schools that can pop up anywhere throughout the lake.
Golden perch are most abundant in Lake Eildon and are most active in November when they school together to breed. At this time of the year, they are readily caught by trolling diving lures and bibless crankbaits just out from the bank in 2 to 4 metres depth. Golden perch also respond well to spinnerbaits or diving lures cast at snags. Golden perch in Lake Eildon can grow very large (up to 8 kg) but most fish are in the 2 to 3 kg range.
Murray cod are Australia’s largest freshwater fish and are revered by recreational fishers around the world. In the last decade, because of fish stocking, Lake Eildon has emerged as one of the best Murray cod fisheries in Australia. When conditions are right, its not uncommon to encounter several 1-metre plus Murray cod in one fishing session. Murray cod respond to many of the same lures as golden perch, but make sure your lures are big and strong enough to withstand a Murray cod strike. In the last few years, high resolution sonar technology has dramatically improved Murray cod catch rates at Lake Eildon. Murray cod are now regularly caught at night using huge surface lures and mega-soft plastic lures, particularly in winter.
Heartland of fishing
The Murrindindi region is the heartland of fishing activity in North East Victoria. It hosts some of the most popular fishing locations in Victoria and enjoys a tremendous fishing reputation.
The fishing in this patch offers year-round and diverse fishing opportunities that appeal to those who target trout and native fish. To learn more about fishing in this region, why not come along to VFA’s annual Goulburn River Fishing Festival held on the first weekend of September.
The VFA website vfa.vic.gov.au/recreational-fishing has some handy links for those looking to cast a line in Murrindindi.