Mansfield and surrounds offer fantastic trout fishing in rivers, streams, and lakes. Lake Eildon is the jewel in Victoria’s lake fishing crown with several major trout rivers feeding it like the Delatite, Jamieson and Howqua.
The Delatite flows through steep forest behind Mount Buller and eventually into Lake Eildon. One of the most popular Mansfield rivers, it’s very accessible from public roads. Native forest upstream of Merrijig gives way to cleared banks, willows and some native trees downstream. Upstream of Merrijig rapids, cascades, riffles and small pools make for a beautiful waterway and abundant trout. Downstream of Merrijig the runs and riffles are deeper with good fish habitat. Towards Lake Eildon, the channel becomes more open and wider, with deeper pools. Low flows in dry years can make for challenging fishing in the lower reaches however if the lake is high, fishing for larger trout can be good. Brown and rainbow trout along with Murray cod are present in the Delatite’s lower reaches and all fishing methods are worthwhile.
The historic and beautiful Howqua River rises in steep forest then flows through a wider cleared valley into Lake Eildon. River width in the upper reaches above Sheepyard Flat is around eight meters and up to 20 metres downstream where forest gives way to hilly farmland, throughout rapids, cascades, shallow riffles and pools presents great opportunities for a range of fishing. There is access to good camping areas and fishing water from Merrijig to Sheepyard Flat via the Grammar School Road. A walking track from Running Creek to Tobacco Flat for angler access has been opened, however there are a number of river crossings with no bridges, which makes passage difficult during high flows. There is also vehicle access for six kilometres upstream from Lake Eildon via the Howqua River Road. Throughout, the Howqua contains good numbers of smaller brown trout and rainbow trout. Fly fishing, bait fishing and lure casting are all worth your effort.
Upper Goulburn River
The Goulburn River above Lake Eildon flows for 50 kilometres from Woods Point to Lake Eildon, through forested mountains with cleared areas between Kevington and Jamieson townships. It flows through native forests with patches of farming land especially in the lower reaches. It is a typical mountain stream with fast-flowing water. Access is good for 26 kilometres from the Jamieson-Woods Point Road up to Knockwood, then by 4WD tracks to the upper reaches. The Upper Goulburn has abundant brown trout, some rainbow trout (average size of 150 grams to a maximum of 1.5 kilograms), and big Murray cod especially in the lower reaches. Fishing methods include fly fishing, bait fishing and lure casting.
Goulburn River downstream of Eildon Pondage
Fishing below the pondage can be spectacular and extra rewarding when it is stocked with huge rainbow trout called ‘stonkers’, which are ex-broodfish. They’re usually released around opening of the trout season in early September.
The Goulburn has reasonable roadside access points through to Alexandra. The river is greatly influenced by water releases from Lake Eildon and fishers should be careful as it can rise suddenly. So be cautious in high flows, especially if wading.
Periods of high flow restrict fishers more to the backwaters, which are where a lot of trout tend to congregate. When flows are lower, fly fishing, lure casting and bait fishing produce well in what is a wide and relatively deep river. Further downstream, bankside vegetation gives way to scattered foliage as it meanders through farmland. This section is mostly brown trout water with some rainbows and occasional Murray cod, more likely the further downstream you go. Trout also move into this section from tributaries and come downstream from the Pondage. This reach can be fished effectively by bait fishing, spinning or fly-fishing. It is considered one of the best trout fisheries in all of Victoria. Access is good at several road bridges such as at 'The Breakaway' or Gilmores Bridge on the Goulburn Valley Highway near Thornton. Other recognised spots are Rennie, South Bends, Valley, Eildon Waters and Point Hill. There is good bank fishing at all these locations.
The Jamieson flows in forested hills for most of its length with only the lower 16 kilometres through farmland where it is easily accessible. Thick forest upstream and limited 4WD access restrict fishers to a handful of tracks. This is a typical mountain stream averaging a width of 10 metres with riffles, runs, pools and gravel beds. It contains brown trout and rainbow trout and some Murray cod in its lower reaches where it joins the Goulburn River at Jamieson.
The Big River flows in a substantially steep, narrow, forested valley into Lake Eildon. Fast riffles give way to deep and slow-moving pools depending on the flow. Cascades and rapids are common in the upper reaches. Downstream of Enoch's Point, it becomes a large river (average width 10 metres) with deep pools and several instream snags that provide excellent habitat for trout and good fishing. Accessible via Enoch Point Road and via forestry tracks with 4WDs in dry weather. There is a camping ground at Enoch Point. Big River is also accessible in its lower reaches by road and by boat from Lake Eildon working upstream. It is a popular trout stream and an important nursery stream for trout from the lake, with brown trout and rainbow trout spawning in its upper reaches. Murray cod are present in its lower reaches towards Lake Eildon.