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Hazelwood Pondage worth pondering about
  |  First Published: May 2017



After years of talk, speculation, and wondering, it was done. Victoria got its first-ever barra sports fishery. The iconic sportfish known for being in waterways a little bit north of Melbourne can now be targeted and caught only a short one hour drive from Cranbourne.

This is such a special fishery and everything needs to be done to keep this going for years to come, as we will never get an opportunity like this again. What this has done for the surrounding towns in such a short period of time has been so important for the community, that if it were to establish itself for the long run, then look out. People from all over the world will travel to the quiet town of a Morwell hoping to tangle with the barra of the south.

PRIME TIME

As the pondage has only been open for fishing for a few months, it seems so far that anytime you can get down there is the best time to fish. With the warm water from the power station that was getting pumped into the lake, the water held a good hot temperature, making it prime time all the time. Now that the power station is off, the warmer months will be the best, as the barra like the heat and warmth. Hopefully the lake holds enough temperature over winter for them to survive.

If not, something needs to be done now by the powers that be, to give this fishery the best chance of survival.

THE GEAR

Both bait cast and spin outfits work well and can be used here, and 6-12lb and 10-20lb spin rods like the NS Amped range are perfect. Spool them with 20lb braid on a 3000 sized outfit then you have the perfect barra outfit that can double up as a snapper outfit.

THE RIG

You can’t fish too light in here as there are already fish pushing 10kg and 85-90cm in length. The growth rate on these fish is phenomenal. In six months’ time we should be catching fish close to the magical 1m mark, so 20-30lb braid and 30-50lb leaders are a must. We have already been roasted on a few big fish on 30lb.

BAIT AND LURES

Just like fishing up north, the barra here love hardbodied lures and soft plastics. Deep divers have caught their fair share of fish. A 4 or 5” paddle-tail plastic on a strong 1/4oz jighead is a must. The barra, no matter what size, will make short work of your gear if it’s not suitable.

BEST METHOD

Working the rockwalls and the drop-offs with lures and plastics is the best way to target the fish in the pondage. Remember to work an area thoroughly as they can be pretty tricky to tempt. Fishing surface lures in low light conditions is by far the most exciting way to fish. It gets the heart and senses going, especially if you fish in the dark and can’t see anything.

MOTHER NATURE

There is a bag limit of one fish per person, but this special fishery is more a sports fishery than a meat fishery. It’s one of a kind and we will never have another place like it, so let’s give it the best chance and practise catch and release. Once these fish are gone, there is a chance we’ll never see this again.

HOT TIP

The use of a good quality sounder helps a lot to locate schools of fish. Once they are found it may take one cast or could take 100 casts. Just work those fish and don’t give up. They can be stubborn and take a bit of work to get a bite but it’s all worth the effort when you slide an 80cm fish into the net.

As I have mentioned, Hazelwood Pondage is a one of a kind fishery and we have been so lucky to have this in our state and on our doorstep. Hats off must go to the people involved in getting this up and running. Now we need to do whatever needs to be done to keep it going for the future.

So far it has brought so much money and people to the townships of Morwell, Traralgon and surrounding towns. This fishery will only bring in more for the community if it’s an ongoing thing. How good is it saying that we have barra in the state of Victoria? Let’s hope we can continue to say this for years to come.

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