Welcome to the Ovens River Fishing Guide. The Ovens River spans 191 kilometres passing through popular townships including Bright, Beechworth, Myrtleford and Wangaratta. Descending 405 meters from the Victorian Alps. The river in stretches provides terrific freshwater fishing for species such as trout and cod.
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Things to do along the Ovens River
The river passes through popular tourist destinations including Mount Hotham, Mount Buffalo and falls creek. These areas are popular for skiing in the cooler months and popular for hiking and cycling in the warmer months. There is also a great selection of wineries and adventures such as paragliding. The Ovens River is fun for water activities including swimming, tube floating, fishing and kayaking, Surrounding townships such as bright are popular destinations for families. Bright offers hotels, camping, restaurants, cafes and crystal-clear waters in a scenic setting. Popular places to visit here include splash park and canyon walk. There is also horse riding or enjoying the native birds, fauna and wildlife. In the not too far distance is Mount Beauty. Further down is the township of Beechworth full of history around the famous Ned Kelly, as well as a bakery and brewery.
Watch our detailed video guide on our top 10 redfin lures below
Fishing the Ovens River
The ovens river spans 191 kilometres and the fishing can be quite varying throughout. There are shallow streams, running water and still deeper stretches making it an interesting river to fish. The River was undamaged by the fires in 2006 but as a result, suffered low water levels for some years. However, fish populations were left in good condition. Trout cod have been stocked in this system near Wangaratta since 2016 and that slowly is providing some excellent fishing opportunities. As stocking programs continue so will the opportunities to catch trout cod. Some of the stretches in Bright and above provide some of Victoria’s best trout fishing. Clear, flowing water provides a terrific habitat for many brown and rainbow trout, blackfish, redfin, and tench.
Further down near Myrtleford and Wangaratta through the pine plantations and farmlands you can catch Murray Cod, Yellow belly, redfin and carp. The lower reaches near Wangaratta can be fished by land or small boats. Targeting Murray cod by kayak is becoming a very popular form of fishing in this area. These stretches can be great to fish with big numbers of redfin and carp and prized catches of cod and golden perch. The best baits include Scrub worms, Crickets, Power bait, Yabbies, Mudeye. We also recommend flicking a wide range of spinners, soft plastics & lures can be a great method of catching a prized reddie or trout. Why not read our guide on the best lures to catch redfin.
When targeting freshwater species such as 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. If you plan to fish with bait from the banks then good options include yabbies, power bait in bright colours, worms, maggots, live minnows and mudeye. Either on a light running sinker rig, paternoster rig or suspended from a float. We have seen many trout and perch caught using these baits and methods.
The Ovens River holds freshwater fish that will actively take lures and soft plastics. We recommend small curl tails, minnow imitations, and paddle tails. Both natural and bright colours work well rigged with jig heads from 1/18 through to 1/20 in weight. Where possible cast towards structure and slow roll with occasional hops and pauses for the retrieve. Small shallow diving hard body lures are also very effective in this system. As are old favourites such as spinners and Tassie devils. Ideally in smaller sizes and nice bright colours. Metal lures and spoons are also an option. Allowing you to cast great distances and target slightly bigger fish. But they are quite heavy and very prone to snags. If you are targeting golden perch then vibes, blades, spinnerbaits and lipless cranks are also a great option, slowly worked ideally close to structure such as submerged trees.
When targeting cod and yellow belly then 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 in dark colours & Savage Gear swimbait. Cod also do take a liking to large surface lures, slowly worked along with structure. There are some weird and wonderful surface lures and swimbaits new to the market so get creative and mix up your retrieval technique. If your site is set on catching 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. An affordable starting point would be either a Savage Gear black savage bait caster rod and reel combo or a Shimano raider cod 642 with a Casitas bait caster reel. Then, of course, there are carp and plenty of them. 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.
Recommended baits Ovens River
- Scrub worms
Recommended lures Ovens River
- stump jumpers
- Bassman spinnerbait codman
- Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
- Gulp 3-inch minnow
- Daiwa Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
- Jackall TN50 & TN60
- Zerek fish trap
- Jackall Pompadour
- Samaki vibelicious
- old mate cod lures
- Jackall transams
- Bluefox spinners
- Daiwa DR joint minnows
- Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
- Berkley powerbait grub
- Tasmanian Devil Blade
- Bassman spinnerbait
- Bullet lures 3cm lure
- strike tiger nymph
- Rapala countdown floating minnow
- Daiwa Double Clutch
- eco gear ZX40
Targeting Murray Cod at Ovens River
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 Yellowbelly at Ovens River
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 reliable stump jumpers, spinnerbaits, bassman spinners, and 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 Trout at Ovens River
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 then 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 Ovens River
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 Ovens River
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, 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.
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.
All rural areas are inhabited by wildlife such as Snakes and Lizards, so be wary of venomous snakes such as Brown, Tiger and Red-bellied Black. 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. Map supplied from Google Maps. All other images and videos shown on the Ovens River Fishing Guide page are Fishing Mad originals.
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