Lake Dartmouth holds self-sustaining populations of both brown and rainbow trout. The lake was formed in 1979 when an embankment was built on the Mitta Mitta River. Trout and the threatened Macquarie perch thrived in the newly formed lake during the 1980s. However, during the late 1990s local angling groups expressed concerns this trout fishery was in decline and stocking was required.
Lake Dartmouth is one of only three fisheries in Victoria where anglers are permitted to take Macquarie perch. The bag limit is one fish with a minimum legal length of 35 cm. The closed season is from 1 October to 31 December.
Autumn is about the best time to be on Victoria’s north-east rivers and streams, both for the trout fishing and the Arcadian scenery. At Magorra Caravan Park on the banks of the Mitta Mitta River, the morning air is crisp and steam rises from the river. The park is in the shadow of verdant mountains, the river reflecting a kaleidoscope of colour from golden poplars, claret ash, liquid ambers and eucalypts. This is fly-fishing country at its best. By 7am, anglers have taken off to cast their flies to rising trout in nearby rivers, or in the Dartmouth and Banimboola Pondages.
Trout fishing in most of Victoria’s rivers and streams closes on the Queen’s Birthday weekend in June and reopens in September. But the good news for anglers heading for this part of the country is that the stretch of water from Dartmouth Pondage to Lake Banimboola, is a year-round fishery. Even when the rivers are off-limits, there is always somewhere to fish.
Dartmouth Pondage is quite large, so do a bit of exploring to find the best locations for your type of fishing. Many access tracks apparently lead nowhere or into muddy locations where a vehicle is easily bogged.
The best fishing is in spring, when the overflow from Dartmouth is in full flow, and again during late autumn when spawning brown and rainbow trout congregate.