by Corey Gallagher •
A truly magnificent setting in the foothills of Mount Baw Baw, Blue Rock Lake is a spectacular place to target freshwater species in Victoria. Surrounded by steep, wooded banks, the lake’s edges are jam-packed with fallen and standing timber, combined with rocky points, drop offs and reedy flats. The fish holding structure within the lake is plentiful to say the least. Located in Gippsland near the small township of Willow Grove, just over 1.5 hours east of Melbourne, Blue Rock is easily accessible and perfectly suited to kayak anglers.
The boat ramp on Old Tanjil Road just to the north of the township offers kayak anglers an excellent place to launch. Facilities include a concrete ramp, adequate parking, toilet block and picnic tables. Launching here is ideal for those looking to access the Tanjil Arm.
There is another ramp located near the dam wall off Spillway Road and offers great access to the southern sections of the lake.
Since 2002, over 160,000 Australian bass fingerlings have been released into Blue Rock Lake, making it the premier bass impoundment in Victoria. Bass are the drawcard for many travelling to Blue Rock, however many species are on offer including brown and rainbow trout, redfin, carp and even the odd eel.
Fishing Methods and Techniques
Although bass can be targeted all year round at Blue Rock, but my preference is to fish the lake during summer when warmer water temperatures result in far more active bass, particularly around the heavily snag laden edges of the lake.
The highlight of any trip to Blue Rock for me is those first few hours of daylight when the bass are more than willing to smack surface offerings. Casting cicada style hardbodies in amongst the heavily wooded edges is a very visually exciting way to catch a bass and always gets the heart pumping.
Accurate casts are a must! Bass are reluctant to move away from the safety provided by a fallen log or rock, so landing your cicada in tight against the structure will greatly increase your chance of a surface strike. I will often cast over the top of a log and pull my cicade back over the top in an attempt to entice a strike.
When it comes to colours, blacks are always a standout, however it doesn’t hurt to have a few contrasting colours such as pinks and greens. I also like to have a variety of cicadas at my disposal, as on occasion the bass will be more likely to hit a cicada with a more subtle action, particularly during glassed out conditions. However, on those windier days a cicada with a more dramatic action can attract more attention.
Retrieving a cicada isn’t particularly technical, and my preference is to simply slow wind the cicada and throw in a few pauses, usually while still in close proximity to the structure or edge. Make sure your drag is well set, as if a bigger bass hits your lure, extracting it from all that timber can be a challenge, so the use of heavier leaders in the 10lb + range are highly recommended.
Once the surface bite slows at Blue Rock, a variety of techniques can be successfully employed. Casting crankbaits and bumping them into the fallen timber can be very productive. Floating crankbaits are essential, as they allow you to pause your lure and float it up over the top of the timber. It’s often during the pause that the bass will strike. Similarly, longer profile minnow style hardbodied lures worked in the same manner will produce.
Another very productive technique at Blue Rock is casting a beetle spin rigged soft plastic into the slightly deeper water around 2-4m. Curl or paddle-tail plastics in the 3” range are perfect when rigged on a 1/12oz jighead. I like to cast at vertical timber, snags or deeper edges and allow the plastic to sink to the bottom then pausing before retrieving slowly back up through the water column with a few twitches and pauses thrown in. Beetle spin rigged plastics are relatively snag resistant and can be worked through the snags effectively. Natural colours work best with greens and olives my go-to.
The techniques mentioned above are really just an example of the many different effective methods that can be used at Blue Rock. Lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, small poppers, bent style minnows, surface walkers and plastics can all produce at the lake. Trolling is also worth a shot, particularly if chasing trout.
Kayaking at Blue Rock does have its hazards, and the hidden timber sitting just beneath the surface has been known to cause significant damage to mirage drive and similar leg powered units. Keep an eye out for any potential hazards when moving around the lake, and in periods of low light, it pays to reduce your speed when moving through areas of standing timber to avoid damaging your kayak.
Blue Rock Lake often requires a long paddle to reach the more productive areas, so a relatively high fitness level can be beneficial. As always please remember to wear your PFD and keep a bailer onboard as required by law in Victoria.
Kayaks are perfect for taking on the tight confines of standing timber litter throughout Blue Rock Lake, and are able to navigate easily between the timber allowing easy access to heavily snagged areas. In recent years, the average size of bass in the lake has increased, and with regular catches of fish over 40cm, it is truly a magnificent fishery and well worth the effort of spending a day on the water.