River Season Overview
Goulburn is way down at what is its designated minimum
riparian flow of 130 Megalitres a day (a
megalitre is a million litres; the equivalent of one
olympic swimming pool of water). This
is so that the mighty Lake Eildon, the source of much
of central Victoria's irrigation water, can slowly fill.
With up to 40,000 megalitres coming into the lake from
it's feeder streams at this time of year the storage
levels rise as water releases to the Goulburn River
are all but stopped.
fishing in this month is a mixture of about 75:25
subsurface to surface (nymph/wet:dry fly). Often
this is the only clear water in the state as the
natural flowing rivers are in flood and way too
high and cold. The minimum flows of the Goulburn
ensure fishable conditions and water releases
into it from deep in lake Eildon ensure clear/warmer
water is to be found (when compared with naturally
flowing streams of the region). Clear water can
almost always be found between Thornton and the
Pondage but the further downstream that you go
the more gullies and gutter enter the river causing
discoloration. Some increase in clarity can be
found downstream of the Rubicon confluence but
the the water is much colder and therefore the
fish less likely to be feeding well.
fish are very wary in the low, clear flows. Many will
line the outside bends of the river sitting in ridiculously
shallow water and sitting dead still, waiting for aquatic
insects to show themselves. This is very tough fishing.
As a result blind fishing with nymphs is the best option
in clear water. If it is slightly dirty a wet fly like
a woolly bugger will do well. Dry flies should be kept
small in keeping with the type of insects likely to
be hatching; namely midges.
rises are usually slow although there will be surprises
as some larger duns will pop off some nights, much to
the frustration to the fly fisher who only has a sinking
line and wet fly set up. As the month progresses the
hatches will start to increase dramatically.
The river can remain at 130 Meg if the weather is cool
and there is plenty of rain. These sorts of conditions
will ensure that there is no demand for irrigation and
if the farmers are not demanding it (i.e. paying for
it) the water will not be released. In a drier year
the need to sustain optimal growth along the farmland
downstream will see rises of up to 3,000 Meg a day.
Generally speaking you can expect to find the river
between 130 and 2000 Meg.
temps have now increased and the first big hatches
have started. My diaries show it as happening most
often sometime between October 1 and 7. Huge hatches
of caddis will persist throughout the day and duns
will make an appearance on nightfall. The fishing
throughout the day on caddis pupa patterns can
be ridiculously good. Twenty fish days are relatively
common and the river is in great condition, wade
able and the fish actively feeding.
the month progresses we start to see larger insects
and more of them. Grannoms begin appearing in numbers,
crash landing on the water's surface as they make their
way upstream. Caenids begin to appear in huge clouds
and this will continue for several months. These hatches
are by far the biggest that I have ever seen, anywhere
in the world, with literally millions drifting by all
morning from first light until about 8 or 9am, sometimes
much later. Think long, fine leaders, tiny flies and
picky fish. Catching them is more about presentation
than imitation. Getting in sync with the fish and putting
your fly across it at the right moment is all important.
By now we usually have slightly higher water levels
as the demand for irrigation increases and this is welcome
as by now the fish are getting slightly edgy after a
couple of months of low water. Levels of between 1,000
and 3,000 bring on some of the best fishing of the season.
of the hatches is building to a crescendo that will
occur somewhere between late November and Christmas.
Absolutely everything is coming off. Caenids at first
light for a few hours. Then caddis will hatch through
the day as will several species of duns. Beetles are
starting to become important and evenings will be an
orgy of duns, spinners, caddis, stoneflies, grannoms
in every size shape and colour. Being prepared for all
eventualities is advisable!
thundery days termites hatch in huge numbers capture
the full attention of the trout. A good imitation is
worth its weight in gold and you will be able to sell
a working fly to your mate for at least 20 bucks a pop.
Some great fish are caught during this hatch each season.
the Kossie Dun will hatch out and make grown men weep.
It is 'THE HATCH'. The biggest, baddest mayfly god ever
blew breath into ( I was forced to put that god remark
in by the PRO-intelligent design folk). Seriously, this
is one of the highlights of the year. Very big duns
appear at last light with little indication/warning
and the fishing gets very easy for about twenty minutes.
A must-experience event with #8-10 mayflies drifting
down in the last light.
Daylight savings has now kicked in and the days are
long and hot. The river will be anywhere between 2,000
and 5,000 Meg a day but usually around the 4,000 mark.
Backwater fishing is now starting to really come into
its own. Fish will move out of the main river flow to
seek out more favorable conditions. The bigger fish
take up the best positions, often less than a foot off
the bank, and defend them from all comers. This is a
great time to be fishing.
small hoppers are everywhere and ending up on the water.
Green is the colour of choice for those seeking to imitate
them and sizes should be between 12-14. Beetles are
just about peaking in numbers around now and they are
also going in, especially on warm northerly days when
they tend to get on the wind. As a result terrestrials
begin to take over the daytime opportunities. Fish are
in close and naturally seeing lots of these insects
dropping in from the overhanging banks. Also any that
end up drifting in the main river tend to end up being
funneled into the backwaters and hence the fish.
the edges carefully becomes the key to success and those
skilled at it will catch many more fish than the average
angler. As the month progresses the hoppers will get
bigger and so should your flies. But its not all about
terrestrials in December. There are a number of good
will remain a focal point for those willing to get up
early. Also the rusty dun will start showing up each
night in ever increasing numbers. Many caddises will
also be important but the larger volumes of water will
often disguise the presence of small, dull coloured
bugs. Look carefully.
This is one of our favorite months. Not just because
the Goulburn is good but because all of the natural
streams (read un-dammed) are at perfect levels there
is an abundance of opportunities.
logic would dictate,
a drop in the other rivers means that the warmer, drier
weather is starting to have an affect. As a result the
demand for irrigation increases. Levels between 4,000
and 10,000 can be encountered. Backwater fishing becomes
all important. If the level is at the lower end of the
spectrum there can be brilliant hatches. When it is
up near 10,000 backwaters are the only real option with
evenings spent on smaller local rivers.
fishing with larger flies averaging around a 10 is now
the way to go. The fish are used to big grasshoppers
going crash and they hit them with real vigor. Blind
searching the edges with a hopper or hopper/nymph combo
is exciting if not a little draining in the heat. We
try to break up hopper sessions into smaller bites of
a few hours with a break back in the fly fishing centre
in between to cool and escape the heat of the day.
and small soft hackle wets are deadly in the backwaters
and parachute duns will often take a fussy fish that
refuses the beetle or hopper. By now there are some
big fish to be found in close and the best backwaters
are nearly always occupied. On most days you should
be able to work the edges carefully and fish to a dozen
sighted and often rising fish. These are good time.
is not to say that evenings are a dead loss. Often the
best backwaters are worth fishing on last light. If
you find a good fish in along the edge through the day
and spook it you can always head back to it with the
confidence that it will show up near to last light.
This is where the full understanding of tailwaters like
the Goulburn work usually occurs. Just as the Goulburn
runs low and warm when the other rivers around it are
running high and cold, it now runs high and cold as
the others are getting low and warm! Great for the trout
considering daytime temperatures will reach 40 degrees
celsius at times.
levels severely hinder hatches of aquatic insects. River
levels of between 6,000 and 12,000 see the hatches wind
back considerably. The focus is now not only on backwaters
but also the large areas inundated off the river proper;
the billabong's and lagoons. Some of these areas extend
back a mile into adjoining farmland and unbeknownst
to most fisherman, the fish cruise these areas slowly
hoppers and attractors like the stimulator and chernobyl
ant work well as the fish are now used to everything
from cicadas to grasshoppers to beetles to spiders going
into the river. Sighted fish should be fished to with
care, blind fishing the edges should be with bigger
rubber legged flies.
month is not really autumn in the Goulburn Valley. Although
there is a definite trend of cooler evenings, the endless
procession of stable high pressure systems sees blue
skies with a few scorchers for good measure. Hot weather
will often persist until early April. River levels will
come down quite a bit and levels more around 3,500 to
5,000 are the norm. This will signal a return of the
MIA hatches with duns and caddis showing up again to
the joy of the fly fisher.
are still fishable with many more now fishable again
after the full irrigation releases of February have
subsided. Fish make their way back fro the now drying
billabong's and take up positions in the reverses and
backwaters. Hoppers and beetles are still working although
duns and caddis will catch a fair percentage of the
fish on offer.
once again take up position on current seams and a return
to normal blind searching techniques will bring results.
As the month progresses the water levels will decrease
as will the air temperatures and this will trigger more
Can be one of the best months of the season. By now
the river is somewhere between (1,000 and 3,000) and
terrestrials are but a memory. The aquatic insects now
take centre stage. Rusty duns can hatch in very large
numbers and the last hurrah of the caddis is not to
be missed. As the flow rate decreases we usually see
an associated increase in water temperatures which triggers
all of this mirth.
are again getting smaller in size. The fish are biologically
programmed to feed heavily in the anticipation of spawning
which will occur in the coming months. As a result hatches
are usually met with solid rises from the trout. Small
parachute duns, especially in rust, grey or olive will
work very well. Emergers in dirty browns will also do
well and the humble stick caddis suspended below a dry
will at times catch a great number of fish.
in the month the river will start to drop rapidly. Days
get much shorter and overnights frosts or early morning
fogs become common. Autumn proper is on the way.
is a period that occurs every year in between about
the third week in April and mid May that is glorious.
Sometimes it goes for three weeks sometimes eight, but
it is the most pleasant time of the year.
mornings give way to the bluest skies imaginable and
days of light wind and rising fish. The river usually
comes crashing down to the minimum flows (riparian flow
130 Meg/day) and stay this way throughout the winter/early
spring period as rainfall is captured for the following
year on lake Eildon.
the time of midges, blue wing olives and light gear.
Careful wading and approaches to feeding fish are a
must. Fish will often rise from about 8.30 am throughout
the day. On the foggy mornings the start is just a bit
later at around 11am but still the good fishing remains.
My most pleasant memories of fishing on the Goulburn
are in this time period with the weather as close to
perfect as it gets.
late in the month the weather changes significantly
although often the first major rain events are not until
at least mid-June. The days are shortened and the hatch
and rise occurs in the middle of the day with less emphasis
on the last hour or so. It just gets too cool.
end of the month the first browns start to spawn and
should be left alone. Catching these fish is not sporting
and requires little to no skill. Please leave fish that
are in spawn mode alone. There are plenty of fish still
actively feeding with only the early run fish involved
in procreating. This usually in the very last few days
of the month.
June - August:
The Queen's birthday weekend heralds the end of the
trout fishing season. This three month period of closure
allows the trout of our rivers to spawn unmolested and
is keeping within the sporting ethic of fly fishing.
This is the time to tie flies, plan trips or fish on
our private waters!
on the river some day!