Welcome to the Cairn Curran Fishing Guide. Cairn Curran is a large water catchment 150 kilometres or 1 hour and 45 minutes drive from Melbourne towards the rural township of Newstead. Cairn Curran was built in the 1950s to provide irrigation and domestic water supply into surrounding areas. It also acts as a spillway to the Loddon river which is directly connected.
Things to do at Cairn Curran Reservoir
Cairn Curran is surrounded by historic gold mining towns Maldon, Castlemaine and Maryborough. The area has done its best to attract families with lakeside caravans and cottages available to stay in. There are 2 caravan parks on either side. It’s also a good location for camping and has onsite toilet facilities, picnic tables and free electric BBQs. However, a watersport is a thing to do at Cairn Curran. This would including, fishing, boating, jet skiing, canoeing, water skiing and swimming. The local sailing club holds events here annually and it’s also a popular location for Duck hunting which is permitted.
Watch our detailed video guide on our top 10 redfin lures below
Fishing the Cairn Curran Reservoir
The Cairn Curran Reservoir is a great fishing destination with deep water and choc-full of submerged trees. These trees make an amazing structure and home for fish species such as yellowbelly, cod, redfin, trout and carp. It offers great fishing for the land base, boats, kayaks and jet skis. Most anglers here will target fish by fishing close to the structure. This means dropping lures, plastics and baits hard up again structure. It’s also a great place for slowly trolling lures and flicking shallow diving hard body lures in the shallows.
Kayak fishing for redfin
The most effective baits to use at Cairn Curran include scrub worms, Yabbies & crickets. They will allow you to target many different species at once. You can also try using power bait, Mudeye and corn kernels. It’s a great location to catch fish with lures. We would highly recommend flicking spinners, soft plastics, metal spoons, hard body lures, blades and vibes. The options here are almost endless so don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s a great method of catching a prized redfin or golden perch. Why not read our guide on the best lures to catch redfin and golden perch.
The tricky component of fishing Cairn Curran is picking the right rod. We suggest taking multiple rods that allow you to target different fish species. You can go light for trout and redfin or heavy for cod and golden perch. More specifically when targeting trout and redfin we recommend fishing with a light spinning rod. This will make the experience more enjoyable and improve your catch rates. We suggest a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo fishing rod. Coupled with a 2000, 2500 or 3000 size reel that’s been spooled with a decent quality braid between 4-8 pound. Then finished with roughly a rod length of a quality fluorocarbon leader.
When targeting cod and yellow belly you will need to go heavier. Some great lure choices would include lip-less crank-baits such as Jackall TN series, stump jumpers which can be cast or trolled, surface lures, vibes, spinnerbaits, bassman spinners, large grub style soft plastics, and swimbaits. Cod also do take a liking to large surface lures, slowly worked along with structure. If you’re specifically targeting a big cod then you’ll need to up your outfit. A 6 foot to 7-foot rod in a 4-8 kilo or 6-12 kilo class rod and a quality baitcaster reel spooled with 20 to 50-pound braid finished with a solid Fluro carbon leader of equal strength. There is a whole range of baitcaster options suiting different budgets.
Then, of course, there are carp and plenty of them. They tend to reside in the shallow waters. If you plan on targeting carp from the banks then we would recommend using corn kernels, worms or bread as good bait options. Either on a basic running sinker rig or suspended from a float. It would also be wise to upgrade your fishing outfit to something a little heavier. Perhaps a 3-5 kilo fishing rod coupled with a 3000 size reel spooled with 8-pound line as a good starting point.
Cairn Curren Fishing Guide and we suggest that spring is the best time of year for targeting golden perch ( yellow belly ) and cod. They can be caught at any time of the day but often the last 2 hours of daylight can be the best. Trout are more active in the colder months and redfin ( perch ) are more active in the warmer months. Cod and yellowbelly in summer will seek deeper water where the water temperature is more comfortable for them. Again you can catch all these different species during any part of the day, though some fish will be more active at Dawn and Dusk.
Cairn Curran Boat and Kayak Access
There are several boat launching facilities. The most popular located at picnic point. A single lane launching facility which is sealed. Do take caution when launching here as it is quite steep. Kayaks can be set up in the car park at picnic point and wheeled down alongside the boat launching ramp. You can see the Cairn Curran boat and facilities map here.
Recommended baits Cairn Curran Reservoir
- Scrub worms
Recommended lures Cairn Curran Reservoir
- Bluefox spinners
- Daiwa DR joint minnows
- Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
- Savage Gear minnow blade
- Jackall TN50
- Berkley powerbait grub
- Daiwa Presso minnows
- Tasmanian Devil Blade
- Bullet lures 5-0 minnow
- Bassman spinner bait
- Bullet lures 3cm lure
- strike tiger nymph
- Nories Wasabi spoon
- Rapala countdown floating minnow
- Pontoon 21 paco spoon
- Daiwa Double Clutch
- Tasmanian Devil lure
- Gulp 3 inch minnow
- Zman 2.5 inch grub
- Dawia Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
- Zerek fish trap
- eco gear ZX40
- Savage Gear Fathead crank shallow diving
- Squidges biotough grub
- stump jumpers S3
Targeting Yellowbelly at Cairn Curran Reservoir
Yellow belly AKA Golden Perch is a beautiful freshwater fish found in this system. With a rich food source available the yellowbelly here grow too thick and plump sizes. Good lure choices include curl tail soft plastics with the zman 2.5-inch grubz and Gulp 3-inch grub minnow both in black are standout choices. Soft vibes such as the Zerek fish trap, Jackall transams and Samaki vibelicious are great options. lip-less crank-baits such as Jackall TN50 and TN60 continue to be very popular so do blades such as the eco gear ZX40 with stinger hooks. Other favourites are the reliable stump jumpers, spinnerbaits, bassman spinners, large grub style soft plastics in dark colours.
Soft plastics are worked best on a 1/8 or 1/4 jig head slow-rolled along any structure. This works particularly well when tying your boat or kayak up against trees and working the soft plastic slowly up against the tree and adding some noise to the action by tapping the butt of your rod or by hitting the jig head into the timber. This brings out the predatory nature of the yellowbelly. Take advantage of down scan and side scan technologies on your sounder and spend some time moving between the structure to find the fish. Other lures to can be worked amongst the timber but in general work really well in open water being slow-rolled or trolled.
When it comes to rod selection we generally use a light spin rod around 7 foot in length in 1-4, 2-4 or 3-5 kilo class paired with a 1000, 2000 or 2500 size reel. Spooled with 8-12 pound braid and an equivalent fluorocarbon leader.
Baitcaster rods and reels are a very popular choice when targeting yellowbelly. Good options include a 3-5 or 4-6 bait caster with a 2000 bait caster reel. When bait fishing a 7 foot light rod paired with a 3000 size reel. Good bait rigs would include a paternoster rig with a small sinker at the bottom or a running sinker rig with scrub worms or yabbies.
Targeting Murray Cod at Cairn Curran Reservoir
Murray Cod is Australia’s largest freshwater fish that grows to impressive sizes. Cod are an ambush predator that love the cover of structure so make sure you concentrate your efforts on any visible structure including logs and submerged trees. They will also seek shelter in deeper holes and rock ledges. Cod are most active in low light conditions such as sunrise and sundown. A medium to heavy bait caster rod is ideal when targeting cod. This might be a stiff 6-foot rods in 6-10 kilo class matched with a suitable size bait caster reel spooled with 20lb to 30lb braid and 30lb to 40lb leader.
Good lure options for Murray Cod include hard body lures, surface lures, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, shads, lipless crankbaits, paddle tail and curtail soft plastics. These should be worked slowly or tolled from your boat or kayak if access is permitted. There are some amazing surface lures on the market these days including imitation mice, frogs, ducks, and snakes with realistic action that are fun to target cod with. Bait anglers can target Murray cod with live yabbies and worms.
Targeting Trout at Cairn Curran Reservoir
We would highly recommend that you read our detailed guide on how to catch trout which details our favourite lures, baits and techniques. You can follow trout stocking timelines by reading the Victorian trout stocking guide as part of the target 1 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022 initiatives.
When targeting trout with lures we recommend using shallow diving hard body minnows, metal spoons, spinners, Tassie devils and soft plastics which are also very effective on trout. If your bait fishing, then Mudeye, scrub worms, power bait, yabbies and minnows suspended from a float or a running sinker rig are great options when targeting trout at this location. Trout are more active in cold conditions with most catches on the first and last light of the day.
We recommend targeting trout with a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo fishing rod coupled with a 1000, 2000, or 2500 reel spooled with 4-8-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader. If there are larger trophy size trout around than you can go heavier moving up the scale to a 3-5 kilo class spin rod spooled with fine 8-12-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader.
We conducted a test to see which would perform better for stocked trout powerbait or lures. Watch the video below to find out the results which were interesting.
Targeting Redfin at Cairn Curran Reservoir
We recommend targeting redfin with a light spin outfit. This will make the experience more enjoyable and improve your catch rates. A 1-3 or 2-4 kilo fishing rod coupled with a 2000, 2500 or 3000 reel spooled with 4-8-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader should be perfect.
Redfin respond really well to lures and soft plastics so do check our guide on the best lures for catching Redfin When using soft plastics, we highly recommend curl tails, minnow imitations, and paddle tails in both natural and bright colours. Rigged with a jig head that’s 1/8 through to 1/20 in weight. The most effective way to use these is to cast towards visible structure and slow roll the soft plastic with lifts and pauses for the retrieve.
Shallow diving hard body lures, blades and vibes are also very effective in this system. So are traditional spinners and Tassie devils in bright colours. Metal spoons also play a role allowing you to cast great distances and targeting the bigger size reddies. Just remember they are quite heavy and very prone to snags in small inland systems like this one.
Targeting Carp at Cairn Curran Reservoir
There is a large volume of carp in local lakes however they are fun to catch and you can learn more about catching carp have a read of our detailed guide to carp fishing around Victoria. When targeting carp standard baits such as corn, bread, maggots work great for carp here. Using a simple running sinker rig with a pea-size sinker works great in this area. So, does suspending baits using a float. We have also fished well using unweighted baits. You can also target carp with hard body lures and soft plastics. This is a difficult technique that generally requires sight casting. Which means spotting a nearby carp and casting right in there are and working the lure of plastic slowly hoping they will strike. Its tough but very rewarding when you catch a carp using this method. Most however will stick to targeting them with bait.
For rod selection, a 3-5 kilo rod coupled with a 4000 size reel is very suitable. You could even fish a little heavier with rods designed for snapper that are generally 4-7 kilo 7 foot in length. For fun I have caught some monster size carp using 2-4 kilo rod and 6-pound braid. But I am prepared to lose some good fish in the process. We like to target carp on sundown particularity in the warmer months. This is often when you see carp swimming along the edges or jumping out of the water around September-November which is their spawning season. European carp must not be returned to the water. Always carry your Victorian fishing license.
A simple yet effective fishing rig here is to thread a small running sinker through the mainline shown in blue, which is usually around 8 pounds. Then tie a medium swivel to the end allowing the sinker to run up the mainline freely. Then tie on the other end of the swivel 50cm of 8-pound fluorocarbon leader (the leader is shown in grey ). Finished with a hook. I generally use a size 6 bait keeper hook or size 10 long shank which is perfect for corn kernels or scrub worms, however, you can also use small treble style hooks which is a better setup if you using bread.
If your getting snagged up than you can also use a flot rig. Attach a quill or bubble float to your mainline. Thread the line through and adjust the length using a size 6 bait keeper hook or size 10 long shank keep your bait suspended at a good depth. Ideally cast down breeze which will stop the float from coming back to you. If you’re not getting bites then adjust the line depth and If necessary add a splint shot to add weight.
As with all country, rural areas always be mindful of snakes. Always carry your Victorian fishing license, FishingMad encourages ‘catch & release’ of all native species to help maintain the water quality within the lake however European Carp must not be returned.
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All images and videos shown on this page are Fishing Mad originals.
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