Welcome to the beginners guide to Lake Wendouree fishing. In this article we will cover what bait, lure and fly to use. As well as information about fishing spots, map, tips, kayak fishing and boat ramp locations.
Lake Wendouree is in the heart of Ballarat and is not only a popular spot for locals walking the lake and runners, but it is also a fantastic fishing spot.
(Check out the YouTube video on fishing Lake Wendouree, down the bottom of the page. For tips and info, keep reading.)
These articles might also be helpful on setting up rigs – How To Fish For Trout With PowerBait: A Beginner’s Guide
Fishing Lake Wendouree
The lake is relatively shallow and most parts are around 2 metres deep or so.
The water is generally crystal clear, but the lake has issues with the weed growth.
When the weed is cut, it can still be around a metre high in places, so only giving the angler around 1 metre of clear weed free depth from the surface.
The lake has a track around it, which is 6 kilometres in diameter. It can get busy around the walking track, especially on nice days with tourist, walkers and runners.
I must admit, I often overlook fishing at the lake, because it can be a hive of activity in summer. (The serenity, as you have idiots driving silly.) But it can be a quality trout fishing spot if you overlook the crowds.
For land based fishing spots around the lake, there are 5 pontoon piers at the south west corner, (near the Olympic rings) as well as the point that are good to fish, or fly fish from.
(Map below, down the article of fishing piers and boat ramp locations.)
A “T” wooden pier on the east side and is popular with anglers, but limited for space.
A fishing platform is located at both the north side (Durham Point) and south of the lake, which can be good for the bait angler. But because of the high railings, it is a bit annoying to fly fish from, or use the spinning rod for the kids.
While you can fish Lake Wendouree from the shoreline, the weed can be a problem near the edge in a lot of places. (And limited space near the walking track.) So fishing from a boat, canoe, kayak or float tube can really open the fishing spots and options.
What Fish Are In Lake Wendouree?
Rainbow trout, brown trout and redfin are in the lake.
Along with the Ballarat Trout Hatchery, the V.F.A. (Victorian Fisheries Authority) stock the fish with browns and rainbow trout.
They also release big “stonker” rainbow trout there occasionally.
(On the very top featured photo on this article, that is a recent stonker rainbow caught on a lure by 11 year old Lachlan. He used a Black Magic 50mm BMax slow sinking / suspended minnow in a fire tiger colour.)
Redfin (aka Redfin Perch, English Perch) in the lake can grow to a nice size. They are not only good fighters, but also great eating and are sometimes called the “inland whiting”.
Regarding redfin, from the V.F.A. website, it states – “Anglers are encouraged not to return redfin to the water as they prey on native fish species and can impact other recreational fisheries.”
Large size tench, the odd carp and eels are also in the lake.
Above image: Kayak fishing, 48cm tench caught on soft plastic Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5″ paddle tail.
What Bait To Use At Lake Wendouree?
A mudeye (dragon fly larvae) under a bubble float is golden and a great bait for trout. Both couta mudeye and bug / spider mudeye are effective.
Powerbait, worms, scrubbies and corn are also popular bait under a float, or on a small sinker.
If I am not using mudeyes, I like using a combination of corn and Powerbait, so if the Powerbait falls off the hook, at least you have bait on. (If you don’t catch any fish, you can also eat the corn.)
Minnows and small baitfish are also good bait to use. Check with the V.F.A. (Victorian Fisheries Authority) about the exact type of live bait you can use. As it can change and be confusing as to what exactly is allowed sometimes.
Small yabbies and are worth a try as well.
But be careful you don’t have too long a leader, as the yabby or baitfish will try and hide in the long weed.
Grasshoppers, maggots and crickets can also be used for bait. If you are fishing unweighted rig, or lighter baits, etc., a thinner line / leader might be used.
As well as the above baits are good for trout, you will also catch redfin.
What Rod And Rig To Use For Bait Fishing?
For the bait rod set up, a 2-4kg rod with a 2000, or 2500 size reel should do the trick for trout and redfin.
A 6 lb or 7lb monofilament main fishing line, or 8 to 10 lb braid for the main line is fine.
For the leader, a 6lb fluorocarbon line is a good option. If you are worried about weed, go for a touch heavier line, like 7lb or even 8lb line.
When chasing spooky trout in clear and calm waters with light baits, a 4 lb or 5 lb leader might be used.
For hook size, a #8 to #12 size hook is good for trout. For mudeyes, a chemically sharpened size #10 or #12 hook would be fine.
For PowerBait, around a size #8 or size#10 will work.
The hook size for worms, will depend if they are big scrub worms, or small scrub worms, but around size #6 or #8 hook will be okay.
If you are using yabbies, a bigger size hook would be used.
For small baits, you might even use a small size #14 hook. For maggots as bait, a fine wire #12 to a very small size #18 could even be used.
A bubble float is best used to get the bait lifted above the weed, but you have to have favourable wind conditions. If a float is used from the bank, then you will have to have the wind behind, to help the float stay out.
The good thing about a bubble float rig is when the wind slightly changes direction, the bait is drifting and covering different areas.
You can use a running sinker rig, but the weed can be a problem, as it will gobble up and hide your bait. If you do go for a sinker, use a lighter one and a longer leader of a meter or more. Some Powerbait will float, so this helps keep it up and out of some of the weed.
A paternoster rig might be a slightly better choice than a running sinking in the weed beds.
Another option is to use a small bit of cork / float near the bait when also using a sinker, to keep it higher up.
For angling, you might use one rod with a float and another rod with a paternoster rig. This way you are working different techniques and maybe different depths to hedge your bets.
In hot weather, with glassy flat calm conditions and no surface activity, the fish might be hiding lower in the weed, (avoiding the sun and predatory birds) so a rig with a sinker might be a better choice then a bubble float rig.
Fishing from a boat you could also opt for an unweighted rig, or use some split shot in some deeper spots.
Fly Fishing Lake Wendouree For Beginners
Lake Wendouree has some fantastic dun (mayfly) hatches. These can even last well into the afternoon and provide some exciting fishing. While the majority of fish that rise will be smaller ones, there will be the big ones in the mix as well.
Tip – Keep an eye out for swallows and seagulls talking insects on the water or off flying about.
Look closely on the water and try and see what they are chasing. Like duns, midges or spinners. The way the fish rises can also be used as an indicator on what the trout are taking. As an example if the fish are jumping out fully, they might be taking spinners. Or just sipping the water, they may be taking midges.
Large midge (chironomids) hatches and also caddis moth / fly hatches are also common in the evenings.
Mudeyes (dragonfly nymphs) are also a great food source for the trout and come to shore at night when the conditions are right to hatch. (Check out the trees, posts, etc close to the waters edge and you will see plenty of casings, where the dragonfly has emerged and left the shell.) Damselflies are also common.
For fly fishers, the walking track is close to the lake, so you have to be careful with your back cast. Or use the pontoon / piers around the lake, or a boat, kayak or a float tube could be an option.
View point has limited spots between the trees for fly fishing, but be careful of walkers going up the scenic point.
The south west Olympic ring side has a nice point and piers that you can fly fish for land based. As well as the rowing course end at the north east side, north east end section.
Loch style fishing from a boat is also popular on Lake Wendouree with fly fisherman and it is very effective. You use a parachute drogue to slow the boat down as it drifts down wind and you cast ahead of the boat and the flies are stripped in fast. (Roly Poly style retrieval. Basically you stick the rod under your armpit and use both hands to strip the line in, hand over hand.) Two flies are normally fished together. Before the flies are recast, some anglers pause and dribble (hang) the flies on top of the water for exciting takes.
A boat or kayak is ideal for Wendouree, as you can get away from the walkers around the walking track there is more room for the back cast. Or you can fish certain spots closer to the weed beds, or wind-lanes can be productive.
For fly fishing a wide brimmed hat and a pair of Polaroid sunglasses are a good combination for cutting the glare off the water and you might even spot a fish or two cruising about on sunny days.
For the beginner fly fisher, the hat and sunnies also help protect against stray flies. (And sun protection.)
A 6 weight fly rod and fly line weight would be fine. I like a 7 weight rod and fly line for the windy days. A 5 weight can be an option, for calmer days and fishing smaller waters as well.
A floating fly line with a long leader and tippet combination is normally used, as the lake is shallow and clear.
Above photo: The smile says it all, first fish on fly rod. Caught with a shaving brush emerger fly pattern.
What Flies To Use At Wendouree?
For which fly to use, overall try and match the hatch.
As a general rule, a nymph pattern is good to fish during the day.
A dry fly or emerger pattern is ideal when the fish are frequently rising.
For late evenings and night time fly fishing, a wet fly, like a mudeye, smelt or search pattern might be used.
For the beginner, one fly might be used. Then when the fly fisher gets more experience casting, a two fly combination could be used.
In the book “More About Trout”, by Robert Sloane, a general rule for selecting fly colour is: “The rule of thumb for fly selection was, bright day – clear water- bright flies. Dull day – coloured water – dull flies.” This advice is also useful for fishing Lake Wendouree.
Some specific flies and general patterns to use might be:
- Shaving Brush
- Possum emerger
- The Magoo
- Muddler Minnow
- Tom Jones
- Black Nymph
- Brown Nymph
- Damsel Fly nymph patterns
- Pheasant Tail Nymph
- Beadhead Pheasant Tail Nymph
- Water Rat Nymph
- Hare’s Ear Nymph
- Wendouree Cruncher Fly
- Craig’s Night Time (I thought dad named this fly after me. I was disappointed when I learnt it wasn’t.)
- Fur Fly
- Traditional English patterns
- March Brown patterns
- Comparadun fly
- Parachute dun patterns
- Midge patterns
- Midge balls
- Partridge and Claret
- Stick caddis patterns
- Woolly Bugger
- Sunset fly
- Red Tag
- Carrot fly
- Bob N Bits
- Mudeye patterns
Having confidence in your fly choice is important, but be prepared to experiment with different flies and techniques.
What Lure To Use At Lake Wendouree?
Above photo: Redfin perch caught on Berkley Pro Tech 60mm jerk suspended minnow.
Below: Rainbow trout caught on a bent minnow lure, early morning fishing.
The weed is an issue, so you don’t want to use too heavy of a lure. Or it will sink fast into the weeds and get snagged.
A hard body suspended minnow or floating, shallow diving lure is a good choice for Wendouree.
A bent minnow in the early mornings, evenings or night, when there is a bit of chop, or heavy ripples /waves is worth a flick. See the article on bent minnow options, for more information, visit – Bent Minnow Alternatives.
Small spinner baits and chatterbaits are good for redfin and the trout will chase then up as well.
Lighter inline spinners like Mepps, Celts, Jensen insects, Blue fox spinners work well, as they don’t sink as fast.
Spoons like Wobblers, or Bob N Spoon are effective if you can keep them above the weed.
Tassie Devil lures in the heavier and lighter weight can also be effective. Above photo, the Tasmanian Devil lure has the treble hook replaced with a single hook, so it snags on less weed.
Soft plastics in a 2 inch, 2.5 inch curly tail grub, or 3 inch paddle tail works well. I use a hook size like #1, #2 or #4 size. Use with a lighter jig head weight like a 1/12, 1/16 ounce jig head.
For very calm days you might use a 1/20 ounce jig head or lighter; however it can limit your casting distance.
For rough, windy days, a 1/8 ounce jig head might be used, or even a 1/6 ounce. (Save the heavy 1/4 ounce jig heads for flathead at Port Phillip Bay.)
For soft plastic colours for the, some anglers swear by the motor oil and midnight oil colours. I keep it simple and for night or dull days just use black colour for the dark silhouette. Or for brighter days use a hot pink, or white colour. For calm clear waters a smaller lure in natural colour works well.
I am playing around with the Trout Magnets (small soft plastics) at the moment and they are fun to fish with. The small size makes it great for some trout, but the light weight is a limiting factor for casting.
When the trout are locked on feeding on mayflies, it is hard trying to use a lure or bait to get a take. Generally it is better switching to a fly pattern, (use a small float for casting weight) but I have fooled the fish using the trout magnet on the spinning rod. I will cast out, let is sink for around five seconds or so, then I use twitch the rod and slowly raise it up at the same time. This pulls the trout magnet up, similar to a nymph swimming up.
I haven’t used metal blades, or metal / soft vibes much at Wendouree. No doubt they would be good, but they weed can be a problem with the heavy lures that sink fast.
As the lake is clear, a long fluorocarbon leader is recommended. For the leader line poundage, you might use a 5 lb, 6 lb, 7 lb or 8 lb line.
Because of the weed and todays thin diameter design, I just use 7lb or 8lb fluorocarbon leader, around 2 rod lengths. (Roughly 14 foot long or about 4.26 metres.)
If you are fishing very small lures or soft plastics on a clear calm day, like Strike Tiger 1” nymphs or Trout Magnets, you might use a lighter leader like 4 or 5lbs.
For the lures, some anglers replace the treble hooks with single hooks or assist hooks on the back, because of the weed.
Here are a small selection of some lures and soft plastics that can work at Lake Wendouree for trout and redfin:
- Bullet Lures (Available from H. Rehfisch & Co.)
- Night Hawk Sniper 60mm suspended minnow.
- Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5” minnow soft plastic. Black and Gold, Camo, Motor Oil.
- Black Magic 50mm BMax slow sinking/suspended minnow
- Tassie Devil Lures
- OSP Bent Minnow
- Strike Pro Bob N Spoon
- Berkley Pro Tech 67mm Bended Minnow. White, Black, Silver,
- Berkley Pro Tech 60mm jerk suspended minnow
- Hurricane Lures Switch 66 bent minnow
- Spinner baits
- Tassie Devil Inline spinner blade
- Strike Tiger 1” nymphs
- Z-Man 2” curly tail grub
- Z-Man 2.5” curly grub tails
- Z-Man 3” Minnows and 2.5” Slim Swimz
- Z-Man – Baby Goat 3”
- Daiwa Double Clutch 48mm suspend
- EcoGear Power Shad 3”
- Rapala Original Floater
- Nories Laydown Minnow
- Diawa 60mm Presso Minnow
Again though, the weed can be an issue, so a lighter weight lure, floating or suspended lure might be a better option then a fast sinking, heavy lure.
I like a slow roll (slow wind) with a few pause with the suspended minnow lures and try to fish it close to the weed top as possible or in it. My son’s likes a faster / medium retrieve, working the lure higher up in the water column. We all normally catch fish, so both are worth trying.
Below image: Brown Trout caught at Lake Wendouree fishing at night on a hardbody suspended minnow.
Where Are The Boat Ramps?
There are a few boat ramps at Lake Wendouree, which is a great for the different wind directions and planning the fishing spot close by.
There are 2 boat ramps on the north side (Durham Point and near the Ballarat Grammar boat shed, Forest St) and 2 boat ramps on the south side.
The boat ramps are in good order and have boat trailer parking close by.
But be mindful that weed cutters operate most days and they might have one boat ramp or even 2 ramps closed off for the day. As they park the truck to collect the weed at the boat ramp. (The council also has another couple off boat ramps that are only available for the weed cutter / and truck and is blocked off to the general public.)
Kayak Fishing At Lake Wendouree
You can launch the kayak around most of the lake, with parking close by. For bigger kayaks like the Hobbies, there is dedicated trailer carparks at the boat ramps.
For some of the lake, the weed is annoying and cut weed can interfere with the pedal power kayaks, so plan you’re fishing spot / location first. Or a paddle is a good back up option.
The lake can get pretty windy, so double check the weather. For windy days, launch on the calmer sides, as the wind can be hard to paddle against.
Work along the weed edges and wind lanes for fish. Keep an eye out for insects hatching and fish rising.
The rowing lanes are a popular fishing spot as these are deeper parts of the lake. But be careful you are not interfering with the rowers who regularly train and use the lanes.
An anchor trolley is ideal for changing direction easily for casting, or to angle with the wind.
For beginner kayak anglers, don’t take too many rods to start with, just concentrate on one rod or two. Otherwise it can get overwhelming with all the gear. The same with lures, just take some selected fish catchers in a few different categories, like soft plastics, inline spinners and hard body lures. Otherwise you have too much stuff to get in the way or lose overboard.
Make sure you tether your gear, or put floats on it, as gear can disappear easily over the side in a flash.
It goes without saying to always wear your life jacket when kayaking, or canoeing.
Float Tube Fishing
Fishing from a float tube at Lake Wendouree gives you some more options compared to just shore based fishing. (But not as much as a kayak or boat.)
As the lake is a medium size and can get windy, plan were you are going to launch and exit the float tube from. Plan with the wind as travelling any long distance is quiet hard with float tube.
Avoid the floating mats of weed beds as these can be almost impossible to kick through.
For winter a pair of neoprene waders with warm base layers helps a bit from the legs being emerged in the cold water.
A small little anchor helps you stay in place. (I used to use an old 2lb dumbbell.) Just like kayak fishing, arrange your tackle well, so it is easy to get too and don’t overload the float tube.
If you are new to float tube fishing, just fish close to your launch spot initially. As it can be a learning experience in the water and hard on the legs kicking if you are not used to it.
Six Redfin Fly Fishing With Just Three Casts?
Fishing in a float tube ages ago on the south side, I got six redfin in three casts with the fly rod. I had two flies on the line and for each cast I caught two reddies for a P.B. (Personal Best.) Mind you, they were very small redfin, only six inches long or so, but it is still a P.B. for me and a bit of fun. There must have been a huge school of hungry redfin swimming around me.
You will need a Victorian fishing licence for Lake Wendouree, like other waters. (Unless exempt.)
There is a bag limit of 5 trout, but no size limits on trout.
For redfin, (English Perch) there is no catch limit or size limit. Anglers are encouraged to not release them back into the water.
What Other Fishing Spots Are Close By To Lake Wendouree?
For fishing around Ballarat you have some great trout and redfin fishing spots. Some places that are only a few minutes away, others to under an hour’s drive from Ballarat.
If you are having no luck at Wendouree, here are some other fishing options:
- Lake Esmond – Fishing Lake Esmond
- Lake Burrumbeet
- Hepburn Lagoon – Fishing Hepburn Lagoon
- Newlyn’s Reservoir
- Moorabool Reservoir – Fishing Moorabool Reservoir
- The Gong Buninyong
- Victoria Park Lakes – Fishing Vic Park
- St Georges Lakes
- Cosgrove Reservoir
- Talbot Reservoir – Fishing Talbot Reservoir
- Tullaroop Reservoir
- Cairn Curran Reservoir
- Bostock Reservoir – Fishing Bostock Reservoir
- Pykes Creek Reservoir
How To Get To Lake Wendouree?
Lake Wendouree is located at Wendouree Parade, just off Sturt Street, which is the main street in Ballarat.
Lake Wendouree is around 1hour 30 minutes’ drive from Melbourne CBD.
For Geelong anglers travelling to Ballarat, the lake is about 1 hour 13 minutes drive away.
From Bendigo, Lake Wendouree is situated 120 km away.
What Fishing Shops Are Close By In Ballarat?
While you have hundreds of choices with online fishing stores on the web and places like eBay and Amazon, you can get some very valuable local fishing knowledge from the staff at places like Rehfisch Hunting & Fishing Supplies. The staff are great for not only knowing the hot fishing spots, but also what gear and lures / bait / flies to use.
Here are some Ballarat fishing stores / outdoor gear shops for tackle:
- H Rehfisch & Co. 903 La Trobe St, Ballarat.
- Anaconda (Homemaker Centre. – Gillies St)
- BCF (Homemaker Centre. – Gillies St)
- Aussie Disposals (Bridge Mall.)
- Jono and Johno. 31 Ballarat-Carngham Rd, Delacombe.
Kmart and Big W also have some limited fishing gear as well.
What Accommodation Is Close By?
There are numerous caravan parks, motels and hotels that provide accommodation in Ballarat.
The Lake Inn, near the City Oval Hotel is an accommodation spot to consider close to the lake.
Can You Swim At Lake Wendouree?
It is recommended that you don’t swim there as the water level quality is poor. (The water is normally clear though.)
Triathlons are held there occasionally.
It used to be a popular swimming spot near the fountain on the south east side many years ago. (Which by the way is a good fishing spot on evenings.)
Who Else Uses The Lake?
As well as walkers, runners, people walking their dogs, the lake is a popular spot for picnic goers, bike riders and tourists.
A yacht club is situated on the south side.
When the lake is windy, wind surfers have some fun zipping across the lake.
Cafes are located close to the lake and various coffee shops are nearby. (Which I think my wife has visited every one.)
What Wildlife Is Around The Lake?
Numerous birds and water birds love the lake. There are: Black ducks, purple swamp hens, coots, swans, sea gulls, swallows, cormorants and wood ducks just to name a few birds on the lake.
Possums and water rats (Rakali) come out at night time. Water rats can give you a fright at night time, scurrying around the water’s edge. (Don’t leave your catch or bait near the edge on evenings, otherwise the water rats will steal it.)
I saw a tortoise walking across the running track ages ago.
Many, many years ago I remember seeing platypus there when my dad was fly fishing the lake. Sadly there are no platypuses at the lake today.
The Weed Cutters
I have heard of fisherman following the weed cutters (Aquatic Weed Harvester) around. Apparently the weed cutter stirs up a lot of bait and the fish like it once the commotion has quietened down.
Just recently I was fishing from the north side pier and the weed cutter came past. Within 5 to 10 minutes or the cutter going by, the trout were rising again taking duns.
Knowing where the weed cutters have been, also allows you to fish the area has just recently been chopped and should be fishable. Depending on the wind, the chopped up weed can be annoying though.
There are a few toilet blocks are situated around the lake.
There are also five playgrounds of different sizes situated Picnic areas and BBQ are located close to the playgrounds.
Exercise stations are also located in a couple of spots around the lake.
What Year Where The Olympic Games Rowing Held On The Lake?
The Olympic Games rowing event was held at Lake Wendouree1956.
What Year Did Lake Wendouree Dry Up?
The lake dried up in 2006.
I remember walking across the bone dry lake with our daughter in a pram.
Lake Wendouree was originally a swamp, hence the shallow depth.
Other Things To Do Around The Lake
Tram rides are available for part of the lake on the west side at selected times.
For interested anglers, the Ballarat Trout Hatchery is open on most Saturday mornings (Check for details of opening time and dates.) This is great for the kids to learn more about trout.
The Ballarat Botanical Gardens is just across the road on the west side and has some amazing flowers, old trees and gardens.
Farmers markets are held occasionally and you have the annual SpringFest market that attracts a lot of stall holders and visitors.
What Bait Is Best For Trout At Lake Wendouree?
Bug mudeyes and couta mudeyes would have to be the best bait to use. Followed by scrub worms and worms for bait.
For the lazy angler (me) Powerbait works well.
What Time Of Day Do Trout Bite Best?
Early mornings, late evening and night are good times for trout fishing.
However, for the fly fisher, when the trout are taking big hatches of insects, like mayflies, then between 11am to 3pm can be a great fishing time.
But the best time to go fishing is: Anytime you can!
The more time you spend fishing, the more you learn and improve your odds of catching fish.
Do I Need A Fishing Licence For Lake Wendouree?
Yes, you need a Victorian Fishing Licence for Lake Wendouree. (Unless exempt.)
What is the legal size for trout in Lake Wendouree in Victoria?
There is no size limit currently at Lake Wendouree and the bag limit is 5 trout.
For updated bag limits and catch sizes, visit the V.F.A. (Victorian Fisheries Association.)
What Lure Is Best For Lake Wendouree?
Something that keeps out of the weeds is best, like a suspended minnow, or floating / shallow diving lure, inline spinners and light Tasmania Devils also work well.
For soft plastics, a 2”, 2.5” curly tail grub, or 2.5” or 3” paddle tail minnow is good on a lighter jig head.
Lake Wendouree has some fantastic fishing at times. However the weed growth can be a problem for anglers.
While you can shore fish a lot of the lake, for fly fisherman and anglers, a boat or kayak can give you more fishing location options.
Great mayfly hatches, big trout, Lake Wendouree can be a premier fishing spot and all in the heart of town.
For more images of fish caught at Wendouree, click on – Lake Wendouree Fishing Photos
Resources and Extra Information
Australian Trout Food, Trout Flies and How To Fish Them. By Rob Flower.
Essential Fly-Fishing Techniques For Australian Lakes. By Neil Grose.
Australia’s Best Trout Flies. Compiled by Malcom Crosse. Edited by Robert Sloane. Fly Fish Australia Inc.
Complete Book Of Baits & Rigs 2 Saltwater & Freshwater. By Trevor Hawkins.
AFN Fishing Maps.
Fishing Around Ballarat. Including the Lakes and Reservoirs of the Central Highlands & Western District, by Wayne Tempest.
Richard Rule’s Fly-Fishing Lakes. By Richard Rule.
The Truth About Trout. By Robert Sloane.
More About Trout. By Robert Sloane.