Welcome to the Lake Nillahcootie Fishing Guide. Lake Nillahcootie was built in 1967 as a local water supply in northern Victoria. This system has a capacity of 40,400 megalitres and is situated on the Broken River 36km south of Benalla. Near popular townships Mansfield, Bonnie Doon and Lake Eildon. The lake features two spillways and regularly water is stored and released annually. The main spillway has a unique-shaped crest that can discharge 117,000 megalitres per day. Nillahcootie is an Indian term meaning ‘Blue House’.

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Things to do at Lake Nillahcootie

Lake Nillahcootie is a great destination for fishing and Boating. There are boat ramp facilities that are popular in Spring and Summer by anglers targeting Golden Perch. There is an established car park and toilet blocks. This is a popular place for swimming and has onsite picnic facilities near the dam. Nearby townships of Mansfield and Benalla have petrol stations, accommodation and restaurants.

Fishing Lake Nillahcootie

At Lake Nillahcootie you can target

  • Golden perch ( Yellow Belly )
  • Murray cod
  • redfin
  • carp

This is a brilliant location for catching golden perch ( yellow belly ), redfin and cod. Well back in the 1990s, there was an effort to stock the system with Murray Cod, those plans were somewhat unsuccessful and again in the early 2000s VFA started stocking the lake with Golden Perch. Once the water level was stable the stocking programs slowly started to succeed. Over the past 20 years, lake nillahcootie has received almost 250,000 stocked fish mainly natives. With a tremendous volume of Golden Perch and Murray Cod. You can see below the recent stocking here in 2021 and 2022 alone.

lake nillahcootie stocking

Today access to the lake is excellent for boats as it’s a prime location to fish with a kayak or small boat and has plenty of productive areas for land-based anglers. There isn’t much structure in the lake so keep an active eye on your sounder as you move around schooling fish, especially yellowbelly and redfin which can be caught here in good numbers primarily in Spring and Summer, especially on evenings. Redfin and carp can be caught in big numbers when the water conditions are right. In general, the fishing is excellent although the vast majority of redfin caught are quite small.

One of the most effective ways to catch perch in Lake Nillahcootie is trolling lures such as lipless cranks, mid-diving hard body lures and vibes at the back of your boat or kayak. Electric motors work great for this and the reduced noise will help increase catch rates. Generally, we are trolling with 2 rods out the back motoring along between 2.5 and 3.5 kilometres. You can also catch plenty in the right conditions drifting and tee bagging the same lures up and down slowly. Once you get some catches you can choose to anchor and fish that isolated areas as golden perch and redfin tend to school up in good numbers.

Fishing for land-based anglers is also very good with many spots around the lake where you can pull up a chair and rod holders. Using simple baits such as yabbies and scrub worms will account for many redfin, golden perch and carp especially during the warmer months. You will be kept busy with the large volume of carp that stay around the shallows.

Watch our detailed video guide on our top 10 redfin lures below


Recommended fishing lures Lake Nillahcootie

  • Lipless Cranks
  • Vibes
  • Jackall TN50
  • stump jumpers
  • Samaki vibelicious
  • Bassman DT spinnerbait
  • Daiwa Bait Junkiw 2.5 inch grub
  • Gulp 3-inch minnow
  • Zman 2.5 inch grub
  • Daiwa Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
  • Storm Gomoku 40mm surface popper
  • Zerek fish trap
  • Jackall transams
  • eco gear ZX40
  • Savage Gear Fathead crank shallow diving

 Recommended baits Lake Nillahcootie

  • Shrimp
  • Yabbies
  • Scrub worms
  • Mudeye
  • maggots

Targeting Yellowbelly at Lake Nillahcootie

Golden Perch

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 with 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 Lake Nillahcootie

Murray Cod

Murray Cod is Australia’s largest freshwater fish that grows to impressive sizes. Cod are ambush predators 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 Redfin at Lake Nillahcootie


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.


Lake Eppalock Lake Nillahcootie


There is a large volume of carp here. Carp are however fun to catch and you can learn more about catching carp have a read our detailed guide to carp fishing around Victoria. When targeting carp standard baits such as corn, bread, and maggots work great for carp here. Using a simple running sinker rig with a pea-size sinker works great in this area. So, do suspend 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. This means spotting a nearby carp and casting right in there and working the lure of plastic slowly hoping they will strike. It’s 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, particularly 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 use bread.

Running sinker fishing rig

If you getting snagged up then you can also use a float 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 to 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.

Float fishing rig

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. Access to the Lake foreshore is restricted as most of the land is privately leased. Camping is not permitted around the foreshore of the lake. Picnic and boating areas are open to the public from 8:00 am to sunset daily.

Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI & Visit Victoria Website. All images and videos shown on the Lake Nillahcootie Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.

Lake Nillahcootie Fishing Guide. If you feel this location guide is missing key information or needs any corrections made, then please let us know by emailing our team at enquiries@fishingmad.com.au with specific details in the email. Please also feel free to share any fishing pictures you have from this location with us. Thank you