The Bright township has a welcoming village vibe and is considered a base for exploring the peaks of Mount Buffalo and Alpine National Parks. As far as picturesque environments go, Bright and surrounds have a lot to offer trout fishers. The main rivers of the Ovens, Buffalo and Buckland are famous for fast flowing, clear water in wide valleys of cleared farmland encompassed by mountains. Self-sustaining populations of brown trout and some great Murray cod are the draw cards for this area. Access to most rivers is excellent with good fly fishing available without extensive walking.
Lake Buffalo, 20 kilometres south of Myrtleford on the beautiful Buffalo River, provides great fishing with stunning views of Mount Buffalo. With toilet facilities, barbeques and park facilities it’s a great spot to take the whole family. Lake Buffalo has had stockings of brown trout, golden perch, Macquarie perch and Murray cod which makes it a great mixed species fishery. Trout can be caught by trolling or more commonly by bank bait fishing with worms on the bottom or a mudeye under a float. Murray cod can be targeted among the dead timber by trolling, bait fishing or lure casting.
The Buffalo River flows through forest and cleared farmland and is accessible from a road running up the valley. The Buffalo contains mostly brown trout, some rainbow trout, trout cod, and Murray cod in the deeper pools. Golden perch have been stocked into Lake Buffalo since 2002 and move up into the Buffalo. The river is wadable for sections but there are extensive deep pools to be aware of. It is in these locations where the cod are more likely to be encountered. Fly fishing, lure casting and bait fishing are all successful here. There is good fishing both upstream and downstream of the Lake.
The upper section between Mount Beauty and Dederang is highly regarded for its trout fishing and the lower section through to Wodonga provides many opportunities to catch a Murray cod. Two main tributaries (East Branch and West Branch of the Kiewa River) flow through steep valleys and join just downstream of the Mount Beauty Pondage. The East Branch begins near Falls Creek and has a large reservoir (Rocky Valley Storage) on its headwaters and several smaller dams downstream (Pretty Valley Pondage, Lake Guy or Junction Dam then Clover Dam). It’s the smaller of the tributaries and contributes only a small flow into the Kiewa downstream of the Mount Beauty township, which flows into a steep forested valley with access from several tracks. Width is around 10 metres with riffles 20 to 30 centimetres deep, the East contains brown and rainbow trout but is the lesser of the two arms in terms of fishing potential. The West Branch begins near Mount Hotham and flows into steep forested mountains, before reaching the township of Mount Beauty, where it flows into the Mount Beauty Pondage.
Flow in the upper Kiewa system is highly regulated. The river flows for 60 kilometres through forested mountains with much of its middle and upper reaches accessible only by 4WD tracks. The river upstream of the diversion point into the power station is a wide unregulated river with rapids and cascades which contains a good fish population. Although there is a main road running up the Kiewa Valley, the river usually flows a considerable distance away from the road with access limited to a few crossroads. The 30-kilometre section between Mount Beauty and Gundowring contains good trout and is the most popular trout fishing stretch. Access to this area can be reached at Mount Beauty Pondage, Mountain Creek Road, Red Bank Road and Gundowring Road. The lower reaches downstream of Dederang contain Murray cod however access is limited to a few crossroads. All fishing methods are worthwhile in the Kiewa River, including fly fishing, bait fishing and lure casting.
The Buckland flows through forests in the upper reaches, then into farmland downstream. The river upstream is five to eight metres wide with extensive shallow areas less than 20 centimetres deep making it more suited to finesse fishing. It also has channels to 50 centimetres deep and occasional pools to a metre across rock and gravel. The lower reaches are wide and shallow. The Buckland has smaller brown and rainbow trout and there are a few key access points roughly 20 kilometres southwest of Porepunkah. Larger brown trout reside in the deeper water of the Buckland’s middle reaches, which are accessible and popular for trout fishing. Best catches are made late evening and early morning.
The King River rises in forested mountains east of Mount Buller and flows 30 kilometres to Lake William Hovell. It then flows through farmland for 70 kilometres to the Ovens River at Wangaratta. Upstream of Lake William Hovell it flows through natural forest with fast-water, riffles, runs and pools. Access to the river just upstream of Lake William Hovell requires walking in from the Upper King River Road. For the more adventurous, access to the upper reaches near Mount Buller requires a 4WD, then walking along the river. Brown trout are the most common catch with some rainbow trout.
Downstream of Lake William Hovel, the river flows in gentle hill terrain to Moyhu then in a wide flat valley to Wangaratta. In the upper and middle reaches, the river flows in a wide channel with low banks, and extensive exposed gravel banks along the sides of the channel. Access is excellent with easy walking along the banks and in the channel. The section of river downstream from Lake William Hovell, contains abundant brown trout, some rainbow trout, as well as increasing numbers of Murray cod and trout cod. All methods work fine, however casting lures or fly fishing will work best. If there has been rain, bait fishing with worms can be productive.
Click here for more information on Lake William Hovell Boat Ramp.
The beautiful Ovens River is the largest river in this region, flowing all the way to Lake Mulwala. The river can be divided into two main sections, upstream and downstream of Myrtleford. Upstream, it is a clear, fast flowing river with coarse substrate providing good habitat for trout. Upstream of Bright the river rises near Harrietville then flows for 35 kilometres through patches of forest, unimproved farmland and pine plantations. It has clear, fast-flowing water and good habitat for small brown and rainbow trout. In this zone the river flows close to the road and access is good.
Between Bright and Myrtleford, the river widens and deepens somewhat but has numerous riffles and runs. There is good access at Porepunkah but restricted access downstream where it flows through farmland. There are extensive riffles and runs at Porepunkah with pools to a metre deep whilst around Myrtleford downstream the river gets considerably deeper. This stretch of river contains excellent brown trout, some rainbow trout as well as trout cod and Murray cod. Stretches in Bright and upstream provide some of Victoria’s best trout fishing. Clear, flowing water with significant in-stream habitat provide a terrific haven for brown and rainbow trout. All techniques fly fishing, lure casting and bait fishing are suitable in the Ovens. Downstream the river becomes more turbid, and deeper, providing suitable habitat for native fish.
Rose River, Dandongadale
The Rose River rises in mountainous forests then flows through farmland on a gravel and rock bed and is accessible along its length from a nearby road. Fishers report dense bank vegetation of blackberry is common and can make access to the water difficult. The Rose contains brown trout and rainbow trout in its headwaters, with larger fish downstream.
The Bright region also boasts smaller waterways to explore; Lake Catani is a natural lake and has a wild trout population. Fly fishers usually do well in the quieter locations of the lake wading, while bait fishing is very productive with small baits of mudeye or cricket fished unweighted or with a float. Kayak fishers do well casting small lures.
Mount Beauty Pondage can produce amazing fishing. It’s stocked regularly with brown and rainbow trout. The shallow nature of the pondage can make lure fishing in between weed challenging but fishing natural baits under a bubble float is a great option. Good fly fishing is on offer towards dusk around the reeds at the north-western end.
Click here for information on Mount Beauty Lake Pondage Ramp.