With Melbourne currently under Stage 4 coronavirus lockdown, my annual trip to the high country around Lake Eildon with my mates Stephen and Mick for the opening of trout season has been postponed at least a few weeks. As I live in regional Victoria and am subject to less restrictions, I decided to take a little solo overnight trip up to the Goulburn River by myself.
I headed up yesterday morning, and arrived just before midday to Thornton, where we usually fish under Gilmore’s Bridge, a favourite spot. The Goulburn River was just a trickle, only pumping out 400ML, and subsequently the lowest I’ve ever fished it. The one benefit of the slow-moving river was I was able to use some small little floating minnow lures that I’d normally never use in this spot, and was able to float them slowly across the river, giving little flicks and pauses normally impossible when the Goulburn is at full power. Within an hour I landed two large rainbows, one about 6lbs and the other 8–9lbs. The first took a spinning Blue Fox Vibrax lure, the second an Ecogear brown trout minnow. With my first day’s bag limit1 filled, I cast about for a little while longer then headed into Eildon to collect the keys to my cabin at the Blue Gums Riverside Holiday Park, then hit the Rubicon River.
Whereas the Goulburn was a trickle, the Rubicon was raging. With plenty of rain over the past few days, the Ruby was also a bit murky, and by the time I’d walked down 500 metres of the river, I figured my time was best spent elsewhere and returned back to the car. I finished my day fishing the Goulburn at the back of Blue Gums, where Snobs Creek meets the main river. I caught a couple of nice little wild browns, both released as they were only small, but by this time the weather had cleared up and it was a very calming and pleasurable way to see out the day.
In an area usually swarming with fishermen at this time of year, I saw one other bloke fishing for the entire two days in the area. It was a stark contrast to my last trip, where even though Victoria was in a Stage 2 lockdown, social distancing was severely lax. This time it was the opposite: Eildon itself was a veritable ghost town last night, with every shop except the Foodworks completely closed, despite being school holidays. The hit to tourism from COVID-19, on top of the bushfires from this year’s ‘Black Summer’, must be taking a huge toll on the locals. I grabbed some steak and beer from the Foodworks and headed back to the cabin for the night.
This morning I woke up and after handing in the cabin keys, headed to Gilmore’s Bridge again. I chased some trout at the trout farm outlet for a little while, then caught another couple of large rainbows under the bridge, with one a massive 10–12lb beauty that went about 67cms in length, and I even managed some video footage of the fight. My two-day bag limit done and dusted, I released the next couple I caught (all were large rainbow hens) and then called it a day and headed home before the predicted thunderstorms hit.
I missed my mate’s birthday last night, so dropped off one of my fish for him on my way home. All up, a very enjoyable little trip, though it would have been better if I’d had my fishing buddies Stephen and Mick along as well. There are heaps of fish in the river at the moment, and with COVID-19 effectively lengthening the ‘off season’ for trout this year, it will be interesting to see how well the river performs over the coming months.
- The bag limit for Victorian trout waters is 5 fish per day, but only 2 can be over 35cm. With my first two fish being large, there was no reason to keep any smaller, thus I’d considered my “bag limit” filled.