Albury–Wodonga is ideal for anyone seeking a variety of freshwater fishing. The list of fish species on offer reads like a Who’s Who of southern Australian freshwater fish. It includes Murray cod, yellowbelly, redfin, carp and both brown and rainbow trout.
The Murray River is right on the doorstep and Lake Hume is less than 20 km away. An hour’s drive south puts you within casting distance of some of Victoria’s best trout spots, including the Mitta Mitta River, the Kiewa River and Lake Dartmouth. To the east, it’s a similar distance to the famous Nariel Creek at Corryong, the Swampy River and the excellent Khancoban Pondage.
Most anglers who come up this way fish Lake Hume. If you decide to do the same, buy a Victorian Recreational Fishing Licence: it might be NSW water, but the lake comes under Fisheries Victoria jurisdiction.
Lake Hume is hard to miss, being about six times bigger than Sydney Harbour. It holds big numbers of that culinary favourite of rural Australia, the redfin, as well as good populations of yellowbelly, Murray cod and trout.
I fished the lake with Wodonga fishing identity Robert ‘Bluey’ Williams. We arranged to meet at Ludlows boat ramp on the southern side of Lake Hume; about 15 minutes drive east of Wodonga. The ramp is long enough to be called a road. Lake Hume was low, at about 25 per cent capacity.
Bluey, who runs a tackle shop in Wodonga, uses a 5 m barra punt with a 30 horsepower outboard. It was spacious, fast and easily manoeuvred as we fished among the stands of dead trees for redfin. According to Bluey, the redfin average 350–500 g, and there are plenty of them. Our bait consisted of small yabbies and scrub worms. We moved from one stand of trees to another consistently finding fish on the sounder, then tying off the boat and dropping our baits.
You could see the fish on the sounder, but they weren’t playing the game. Bluey caught a few, hooking one of the smaller fish and putting it down, explaining it was the best bait for the bigger reddies. An angler I spoke to that evening caught more than 100 reddies in a session the day before. We didn’t pull that many, but at least we had a taste.
Bluey said that one of the nice things about fishing broad water in a boat is that if the fish aren’t biting, it’s no big deal to run a few kilometres to another area. ‘We could head towards Tallangatta and chase Murray cod, or the Bowna Arm for yellowbelly up to 10 kg that often school near the entrance,’ he explained. ‘Bethanga Bay can be excellent for redfin to 2.5 kg, and a lot of the trout guys troll lures near the Pines, which is close to Bethanga Bridge. The trout are up to 2.8 kg but average about 950 g.’
Bluey suggested the best time at the lake is August and September when there is an explosion of small baitfish (smelt) in the lake, which brings the trout on the bite. April and May can also be good months for trout. Native species such as cod and yellowbelly seem to prefer the warmer months.
Boat ramps on the lake are located at Ludlows, Bowna Arm, Pines (Bethanga Bridge) and the Lake Hume Resort, which is near the dam wall.