Konong Wootong Reservoir

Konon Wootong Reservoir, Steve Cooper

Coleraine in the Western District is in the heart of prime wool- growing country. The small town is famous for its chocolate factory, but less well known is the trout fishery in the picturesque 60 ha impoundment just out of town, Konong Wootong Reservoir.

The reservoir was constructed 80 years ago to supply the domestic water for Coleraine and Casterton. The impoundment is now solely a recreational fishery.

Local angler Noel Vickery has fished this water since 1947 and says it is one of the best trout fisheries in the state, and among the best public fly-fishing waters available. He said it is a firm favourite with fly- fishers from SA. ‘The lake holds the world record growth for a rainbow trout,’ Noel said. ‘A two-year-old rainbow, stocked in the lake as fry, grew to 9 pound 12 ounces [4.4 kg].’

Noel said that particular fish went to the British Museum in London, but it was a long way short of the biggest trout to come out of this water. In 1939 Dorothy Woolley caught a rainbow trout that weighed 14 pounds 10 ounces (6.6 kg). ‘She was fishing with mudeye and used a split cane rod and catgut line,’ Noel said. ‘The good quality of trout in this water attracted the Ballarat Fish Hatchery people who would come to the lake and strip the trout of their eggs for breeding.’

Although just 10 minutes drive out of town, Konong Wootong isn’t well signposted. Take the Coleraine– Harrow road, turning off at  Reservoir Road. The water is surrounded by farmland and ringed by large pine trees that give some wind protection.

According to Victorian Fisheries, this water holds brown trout that average about 1 kg and reach 2 kg, rainbow trout and redfin to 1.6 kg. The water is stocked regularly with brown and rainbow trout.

Non-power boating is permitted, so many fly-fishers use float tubes or canoes. For many, the early mayfly hatches in September and October are a major attraction.

Despite many weed beds around the shoreline there are plenty of areas for shore-based anglers. A favourite spot is the retaining wall at the Coleraine end, but look for snakes among the rocks.

Camping is permitted below the dam wall.

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