Toolondo Terrors –

Situated in the Wimmera region of western Victoria, this trout Mecca is regarded as the best trout fishery on mainland Australia. A 30-minute drive south west of Horsham, Toolondo has received many accolades over the years but also had its tough times being a boom/bust fishery as it’s placed in some of the driest country Southern Australia has to offer. After many years of drought in the 90’s Toolondo was rejuvenated by massive rains in 2010, breathing new life and hope back into the system. As new Kaydo writer Trevor Holmes explains here, Toolondo can be a sensational place to fish! 

In Days Gone By

Most keen trout anglers hunger for information and way back in the 80’s Steve Starling produced the magnificent video  ‘Toolondo’s Fighting Browns’. Highlighting the many and varied ways of tackling these fish, Steve showed various methods and techniques to best fish Toolondo. By far the most popular and successful technique was using a mudeye fished under a bubble of quail float. This time-honoured method still produces best results to this day and technology has never overrun it. Rods, reels,lines and tackle have improved but the basic principle is still the same. image1

Species On Offer

Since the crippling drought of the 90’s Fisheries have been constantly stocking Toolondo with annual allocations of both rainbows and brown trout. To date in excess of 59,000 brown and 25,000 rainbows have been liberated here to mix with the naturally occurring redfin. Given the first release was not until October 2011 as fry, growth rates currently witnessed are phenomenal. Fish better than 5 kg inhabit Toolondo now, although hard to tempt they thrill many anglers who sight them or get followed up by the inquisitive monsters! The summer of 2014 saw Toolondo down to a very critical 16% and the newly elected government saw the value of the states premier trout fishery and injected a much needed 5000 megalitres saving it from certain disaster.

Seasonal Changes

At present it sits at around 18% after a very dry winter. Well known for its monster redfin pre drought we haven’t seen the bio-mass re-establish as yet with less than ideal conditions of low and clear water making the juvenile reddies vulnerable to both birds and the large trout. No natural breeding occurs in the lake so it’s classed as a put and take fishery although in the past year we have seen a very small percentage of what is termed as ‘shore breeding’ occur. This is a laying or displacement of eggs by the hens being fertilised by the bucks and managing to hatch and grow out without predatation. Proof that running water and gravel beds are not required to complete  this process. image3

Gear of Choice

Whilst most trout anglers have their preferred rods and reels for this type of fishing I personally fish very light as these big fish don’t get big by being stupid ! Casting lures and plastics a 7 foot fast taper rod and 1000 or 2000 reel which balances up nicely and won’t tire you out casting for hours on end is ideal. Braid or mono has always been the question and its an an individual choice. Leaders, if using braid, I would strongly suggest need to be no less than 10 pound as the Toolondo trout are well known for their ‘dirty tactics’ fighting capabilities.

Coming Undone

Jumps, twists, turns, long runs and the uncanny knack of finding snags and structure can bring you undone in the blink of an eye so be prepared for a good tussle ! Bait fishing a 9 foot rod is ideal and reel selection I find the bait runners a great option for the quality pre set drags and out of gear ease for sensitive fish to run freely, devouring the bait prior to hook up. image4

Best Methods

As above the mudeye fished under a bubble float is most efficient way to hook up but with advancements in most fishing methods over the years such as soft plastics, fly and cast/retrieve of hard body lures as well as trolling many more options are adapted and utilised. Of late the best and most enjoyable technique has been working the shallows,structure and weed beds with surface lures such as the OSP bent minnows and poppers enticing the trout to emerge from cover and provide sight strikes.

Adrenaline Rush!

On most occasions this is witnessed by the angler and really gets the adrenaline pumping. Trolling in the winter months when surface weed is not so prevalent also connects you with many great fish, most of which are of the XL size too ! Tassie Devils and shallow running hard body lures work well and colour wise it can vary from day to day depending on the many variables of Mother Nature.

Something For Everyone

Fly anglers enjoy wading the shallows as well as loch style drifts working over the wind lanes and around the weed and structure. As I don’t fly fish myself I would reccomend any fly fisho travelling here to tackle the beasts to connect with a local or a regular visitor for best colours but I hear many stories of a local favourite called the Shrek doing the most damage. IMG_2325

In The Region

As Toolondo is only a very small rural town with no shops or service stations and the closest major centre being Horsham 45km  away I strongly advise a lot of thought and preparation goes into a planned trip here. Accommodation wise the only close by option is the local caravan park. Several other good fishing options are close by including Rocklands Reservoir Lake Fyans, Lake Wartook, Koonongwatong Reservoir and the Wimmera River. With a mixture of trout, introduced and native species as well as most waterways holding good numbers of Yabbies the possibilities are endless in the Wimmera but as mentioned earlier water levels are receding fast. Get out and enjoy the region and all it has to offer on the tail end of the current boom and hopefully the fishing gods shine upon us and much needed rain arrives before it’s too late!
Trevor Holmes

About Trevor Holmes

Trevor has a lifetime of experience with both freshwater and saltwater fishing. He offers you a relaxed attitude, great humour and willingness to pass on tips and techniques. Trevor is a fully accredited Coxwain and operates a fully compliant and insured craft. http://www.victorianinlandcharters.com.au/

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