All species are up for grabs at Lake Eildon

Marc Ainsworth with a typical cod you can expect to catch from the lake. There are plenty of fish this size and bigger. Photo courtesy of Stephen Booth.

by Daniel Piazza

If anybody was to ask me where I would spend most of my time fishing in November, it would be at Lake Eildon. I love my native fishing and with the Murray cod fishing open for business at Eildon all year round, it means you can get your green fish fix and hone your techniques, ready for 1 December.

There has been sensational trout fishing through the winter months and there’s no reason why this wouldn’t continue in November. It’s also prime time to catch golden perch in the lake. Add to that the launching options and facilities around the lake, which make getting your boat onto the water a breeze compared to the madhouse that prevails in Melbourne during the snapper run. So you have great fishing and no hassles – what more could you want?

There are a number of contributing factors that will see this month produce memorable fishing at Lake Eildon. After a cold and wet winter and record snow falls at Mt Buller and other snow peaks in the area, more stable weather patterns, warmer temperatures, higher barometers and slowly rising water temperatures will trigger the fish to be more active. Anglers in the know take all of these factors into consideration before heading out on the water.

Murray cod

First and foremost the cod fishery that has been created by Victorian Fisheries has now had a couple of years to mature. Over a million fish that have been released into the lake are now reaching sizes that mean they need to eat more and spread further into the system in an effort to avoid each other. The urge to reproduce will be slowing and the focus on food will become a bigger priority. The biggest change, however, will come from the anglers themselves.

I will touch on techniques and lures in more detail later in this article, however it is the range of techniques that are now employed by anglers that will contribute to more fish being caught. The emergence of swimbaits, and the popularity of heavy spinnerbaits and chatterbaits, has led to rods and reels being available to correctly fish these lures; this has opened a Pandora’s box of fishing options in very deep or very shallow water that didn’t exist two or three years ago. Couple that with the huge range of hardbody lures, lipless crankbaits and soft plastics and every level of the water column can be fished effectively.

More fish, more aware anglers and improving weather should see plenty of Murray cod being caught in November.

Murray cod tactics

To say that Lake Eildon has a huge amount of structure in it is an understatement. It would take you a huge amount of time to explore every option that is available to you. My favourite areas to target cod are steep banks. I look above the water on these banks for signs of what may lay below the surface. The dam wall is a perfect example of this and is a very popular location for anglers targeting cod.

The large rocks that the wall is made of create all sorts of nooks and crannies for fish to hide in and ambush anything swimming past; they also provide protection from predators. When you look above the waterline there are literally thousands of these areas and it’s the same below the water.

Other things to look for along the banks are any changes in the type of rock above the water or banks that have steps or layers on them. All provide cover and staging points for predators to sit.

Last but certainly not least are lay downs or large trees that have fallen into the water. Murray cod love having a roof over their head and these fallen trees are prime locations for them to stage under.

I commercially produce my own spinnerbaits so it’s no surprise that my favourite method to target Murray cod at Lake Eildon is with spinnerbaits. With the various weights and blade configurations that are now available (as well as the rods capable of casting a 3oz spinnerbait) all structure types and depths can be fished. Don’t be afraid to troll spinnerbaits either. They are surprisingly snag resistant and are a great option in 20-30ft of water.

Another similar style of lure is a chatterbait. Retrofitted with a paddle-tail soft plastic, these lures can be slow rolled around structure and are particularly effective fished along those banks that have distinct steps in them. Their flash and roll makes them irresistible to our friend the cod.

Swimbaits, wakebaits or lures that swim just below the surface have become an immensely popular way to target Murray cod. I have to admit that this is a method I am super keen to do and learn more about. Dark or low light periods are the key times and to find areas that have a gradual sloped bank leading into an area that has weed or some form of structure. Ideally you want to be in 15-20ft of water casting to 2-4ft of water. The strikes on these lures are something else and this form of fishing is very addictive.

Hardbody lures, in particular the many Australian-made lures, are also very effective on the Eildon cod. The key to hardbodies is selecting a lure that will run at the correct depth for the area you are fishing. There is absolutely no point fishing a lure that runs 10ft, if the structure you are fishing is at 30ft and vice versa.

Two other tips with hardbodies is fish them slowly and don’t be afraid to work them through structure, and run single hooks on your lures. This is not a necessity, but I have found that I have better success using in-line single hooks. You’ll notice the action of the lure change once you take the trebles off.

There are some thumping golden perch in Lake Eildon and even though the cod are the big draw card, who wouldn’t want to catch one of these?
Targeting golden perch by rolling a plastic or vibe vertically up and down the trunks of trees has become a very popular and effective method. Here the author is fishing a Zerek Fish Trap on one of his favourite daddy trees.
Fishing Monthly’s own Peter Jung fished the lake with the author to help put together this feature. He got into the action with this beautiful brown trout.
The result of fishing the mouth of a small creek in the Big River Arm from the shore. This beautifully coloured rainbow couldn’t resist the Bullet Five-0 Minnow.
The author loves getting out of the boat and having a cast for trout in the upper reaches of the Big River Arm.
The Eildon dam wall is a popular place to fish for all species, and no wonder with the amount of cover all the rocks provide for the fish.
Another likely looking bank with trees that have fallen into the water. These can now provide cover for the fish.
The author looks for rock terraces with scattered trees.
There are a lot of likely looking banks all over the lake. The key is to look above the waterline to see what may be below. This is a prime example of a yabbie bank.
The launching facilities around Eildon are fantastic. This is the Jerusalem Creek Boat Ramp.
The trout fishing during the winter months has been sensational. This Big River Arm fish shows you what you can expect in November.
The key to catching plenty of golden perch in November will be water temperature. Find 18°C water and you’ll find fish like this one.

Golden perch

If you speak to anybody that fishes Lake Eildon on a regular basis for golden perch a key factor is water temperature. The tipping point for success seems to be around 16.5°C with premium fishing coming at the 18°C mark. In late September the best water temperature I was able to find was 18°C and even if you find concentrations of fish, they are very difficult to catch.

November brings more consistent wind directions and warmer daytime temperatures. Warmer water will collect on the windward shorelines and will congregate the fish, producing excellent fishing for anglers.

Golden perch tactics

Unsurprisingly golden perch inhabit similar structure to Murray cod and it certainly isn’t a surprise when a golden grabs a lure intended for a cod. However, if you’re looking to target goldens specifically there are a few things I like to look for. First and foremost is the water temperature mentioned earlier. The key temperature is 18°C and when the water temperature is consistently at this, it’s like a dinner bell has rung and the fish can’t help but eat.

Secondly there are three types of structure I like to fish. Golden perch, like cod, love a bit of structure, but tend to hang on the outer edges of it, rather than under it. The many drowned parcels of spindly trees are perfect areas to cast lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits or lightly weighted soft plastics at and around. Rocky points with little or no standing structure are another ideal place to chase a golden.

Bouncing hardbodies or spinnerbaits over the rocks or hopping lipless crankbaits or plastics down drop-offs will get you your fair share of fish. The most recent trend when targeting golden perch has been vertically fishing trees. Tie your boat directly to a tree and slow roll plastics or vibe style lures directly up and down the trunk. The key is to find what I call the daddy tree of a group of trees or find a large, lone individual tree. Make sure you fish all sides of the tree and if you find one fish, there will be plenty more with it.

Although golden perch will take larger lures, if you want to target them more specifically, downsize your lures a little. Make sure that if you’re fishing with a mate they know to have a lure handy to cast if you’re on, as it’s not unusual for a hooked fish to have plenty of mates follow him up to the boat.

Brown and rainbow trout

A cold winter, good rain and great snowfalls in the ranges have meant the lake has had a good rise and water temperatures have been at a premium for the trout in the lake. Anglers haven’t needed to target fish with lead core line and downriggers during winter and the most productive method was flat lining Tassie Devils or shallow running spoons like Mac’s Lures. The same lures have also been productive cast by shore-based anglers.

This trend should continue this month. The only change will be that you will need to target the trout in the arms of the lake that are fed by the snowmelt rivers, as this cold highly oxygenated water congregates the trout. Big River, the Howqua and the Jamieson Arm or Goulburn River will be your best bets. Don’t forget to include minnow-style lures to your arsenal as small trout from this year’s natural recruitment will be high on the list of food items for the resident fish in the lake.

As you move further from these arms it will be well worth your while to run your lures deeper in the water column or target trout in the cooler, lower light period of the day.

The one thing you will find at this time of the year is that the fish are in great condition and are prime table fair.

Brown and rainbow trout tactics

With water temperatures in the lake increasing the trout fishing will become more localized and it will also slow down after a bumper winter. I like to fish Big River above the 5-knot zone in November as the flows into the lake have been consistent all winter, and should continue. I use either troll pink Tassie Devils or minnow-style lures.

Once I have caught a few fish, I like to stop trolling and cast the same lures around the edge of the trees and any current lines if I see them. Keep an eye out for any small creeks flowing into the lake as these can also attract fish to them. The key is not to stay in one place for too long. If you aren’t catching, pop the lures back out and troll until you find them again.

Something I love to do is park the boat on the bank and go for a walk and have a cast. This can be very effective at first and last light when the fish are drawn to the edges by insect activity. This is a great time to get the fly rod out as well as your lures. Just be aware that as the weather warms, snakes become more active, so keep an eye on where you’re walking.

Summing up

Just writing this has me excited. Lake Eildon is a great fishery, and November is the month that it shines brightest. There aren’t too many fisheries where you can go and spend a weekend and catch four of Victoria’s premier freshwater species, especially Murray cod during the closed season.

There are numerous places to stay, plenty of places to launch your boat and everybody from the people in the local tackle store to the bakery know what’s doing fishing-wise and are happy to send you off in the right direction. The best part is that no matter how many people are on the water, you can always find somewhere where it feels like you have the lake to yourself.


Murray Cod

Primal Spinbaits
Obsession Spinnerbaits
Bassman Spinnerbaits
Zerek Fish Trap
Zerek Live Mullet
Kuttafurra Mudhoney
RMG Poltergeist.

Golden Perch

Primal Spinbaits
Obsession Spinnerbaits
Bassman Spinnerbaits
Jackall TN60
Zerek Fish Trap
Berkley Minnow Grub (black)


Tassie Devils (pink)
Rapala CD5
Bullet Five-0 Minnow
Zerek Tango Shad
Mac’s Lures.

Boat ramps – Eildon

There are three boat ramps close by if you are staying in Eildon.

  • Alliance Boat Ramp at the dam wall
  • Jerusalem Creek Ramp
  • The Fraser Camping area in Lake Eildon National Park

Where to stay

Lake Eildon Houseboats                                        Ph: (03) 9397 6977

Eildon Pondage Holiday Park                               Ph: 1800 651 691 

Jerusalem Creek Marina and Holiday Park       Ph: (03) 5774 2585

*Every style of accommodation is available at Eildon from houseboats to camping. These are just a few options