Welcome to the Sugarloaf Reservoir Fishing Guide. Sugarloaf reservoir was established in the 1970s and is situated within the Yarra Valley nestled within the Christmas hills.  With a 15 kilometre walkway around the lake, it’s an open and scenic spot for a family picnic, walks, cycling and fishing.  You cannot fish with bait at Sugarloaf only fishing with lures is permitted as it forms part of Melbourne’s domestic water supply. The reservoir gets its water through the pipeline from the Yarra River and Maroondah aqueduct. Several local anglers have reported fishing with baits and rangers and not making a fuss when they do. This is a great land-based fishing location for Golden perch and redfin. Just flick soft plastics, vibes, blades and shallow diving hard body lures along the weedy edges. The lake opens at 8.30 am and in summer closes at 7.00 pm and 5.00 pm in winter.

**BECOME A FISHINGMAD MEMBER** Exclusive Fishing Workshops, Exciting Monthly Giveaways, In-Depth Fishing Reports with GPS Coordinates, Members Podcast, Interactive Maps, Catch of the Month Competitions, Kayak Club, Gear Guides, Rigging Tutorials, Tackle Talks, Sounder School, Fishing Tips, Fish Cleaning tutorials, Behind the scenes content & more.

Things to do at Sugarloaf Reservoir

Sugarloaf reservoir is roughly 45 kilometres away from Melbourne past townships such as Eltham and Warrandyte. This is a lovely and scenic location to take the family and kids with plenty of walking tracks, fishing zones, picnic grounds, BBQ facilities and toilets. There is plenty of free parking available within the entrance of the park with properly sealed roads. Keep a lookout for birdlife, kangaroos, wallabies and echidnas. Why not take the family for a hike, cycle or gentle walk around the 15-kilometre track around the reservoir. Sailing is another popular activity here and the local sailing club is often on the water. It’s a great location for hikers. The hike starts at the Saddle Dam Picnic Area and car park on Simpson Road. There are clear signs throughout to keep you on track. The hike offers great views and takes on average 4 hours to complete the full circuit. Close by attractions includes the Warburton golf course and its picturesque and challenging layout. There is also the Kangaroo grounds war memorial and surrounding vibrant townships. You could also continue further up and visit local attractions such as Healsville Sanctuary. An amazing zoo for both kids and adults. The place is well maintained and has a terrific range of animals and activities.

Fishing at Sugarloaf reservoir

At Sugarloaf reservoir, you can catch Golden perch ( Yellowbelly ), Redfin, rainbow trout, brown trout, tench & carp. Soft plastics are a great choice as redfin and golden perch will eagerly take these. Spinners, Tassie devils, and mid diving hard body lures are also good options for perch and trout. Flick towards structure and slow roll with occasional hops and pauses for the retrieve. If you are targeting yellowbelly then vibes, blades, spinnerbaits and lipless cranks are also a great option. Why not have a read at our details guide on the best lures to catch redfin. When targeting freshwater species at Sugarloaf reservoir including golden perch and redfin we recommend fishing with a light spinning rod. This will make the experience more enjoyable whilst improving your catch rates. We suggest a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo capacity fishing rod. Coupled with a 2000, 2500 or 3000 size reel. Spooled with braid between 4-8 pound finished with a rod length of a quality fluorocarbon leader. Any time of day, though golden perch and redfin can be more active at Dawn and Dusk

Kayaks and boats are not permitted on sugarloaf reservoirs. Boats are understandable as this does make part of the local drinking supply, but we struggle to understand why it’s not open to kayakers considering sailing is permitted. Our understanding is that there are agreements in place between the local sailing club and Melbourne water. Let’s hope in years to come kayak access is considered.

Best fishing lures at Sugarloaf Reservoir

The lake is shallow and weedy. We recommend using single hooks instead of trebles where possible. Lightly weighted grub and minnow style soft plastics are very effective on yellowbelly ( golden Perch ), estuary perch, carp and trout. Lipless Crankbaits, blades, cranks and shallow diving hard-body lures are a great all-around choice.

  • Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
  • Gulp 3-inch minnow
  • Zman 2.5 inch grub
  • Daiwa Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
  • Jackall TN50
  • Zerek fish trap
  • Jackall transams
  • Samaki vibelicious
  • eco gear ZX40
  • Savage Gear Fathead crank shallow diving
  • stump jumpers

Targeting Yellowbelly at Sugarloaf Reservoir

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 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 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 feet 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 Redfin at Sugarloaf 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 Trout at Sugarloaf 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 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 power bait or lures. Watch the video below to find out the results which were interesting.


Targeting Carp at Sugarloaf 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 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 a 2-4 kilo rod and a 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 using bread.

Running sinker fishing rig

If your 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


Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. Haeder Melb Water. All other images and videos shown on the Sugarloaf Reservoir Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.

Thank you for visiting the Sugarloaf Reservoir 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

Rules, regulations and hazards at Sugarloaf reservoir

  • The park is open every day of the year from 8.30 am through to 7.00 pm. Outside of daylight savings, the park closes at 5.00 pm.
  • Fishing with bait is strictly not permitted, You are only allowed to fish with lures in the permitted fishing zone
  • Dogs are not allowed in the park
  • 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.
  • As with all country, rural areas always be mindful of snakes.