The Mitta near Eskdale.
The Mitta River is a magnificent trout stream. The headwaters are in the shadows of Victoria's highest mountain, Mount Bogong and tumble through the mountains before being captured in Dartmouth Dam. Below the dam it then flows for some 70kms through some of the best farm land in Australia.
Above Lake Dartmouth the river is also known as the Big River, but it is below Lake Dartmouth that this article concentrates on. Here the river can be broken into three distinct sections.
The first is from The Dartmouth Pondage to the junction with the Snowy Creek at Mitta Mitta. This section of the river is often difficult to fish, with very low water levels, or very high water levels. It generally flows through steep gorges and lure fisherman will take the majority of fish. From Callaghans Creek down, the river starts to flow through farm land and can be accessed from either bank. Lures and flies are very successful in these areas, with the best time to fish being when there is a flow between 500 & 3000 megalitres per day. Flows higher than this can make the river difficult to access.
From Mitta to Tallandoon the river becomes wider and slower. It has magnificent gravel runs and quiet pools and the best fish are generally caught in this section. Here the fly fishermen come into their own, with large hatches of duns occurring on most evenings during the warmer months. Lure fisherman also do well in this section at times, with early and late sessions being the pick.. Bait fishing is also popular in this part of the river, with the humble earth worm taking many fish each year. The maggot is also becoming a popular bait in this section of the river.
From Tallandoon to Lake Hume the river flow slows down and it becomes harder to access. There is a sealed road running on either side of the valley, but the river is often a long way from either side. It is also overgrown with willows in places and the bottom is often covered in silt from farm land further up stream. There are however still opportunities for the trout angler in this section of the river. Deeper sections hold some excellent trout, and it is possible to catch fish well into the old river course which is part of the Hume Weir when full. Lure and bait anglers do well in this section, but there are still opportunities for the fly angler in places.
Target Species: Brown trout dominate the fishing in the Mitta River. There are a few rainbows, mainly in the river above Tallandoon and also the ever present carp. The average size of trout is around the 500g mark, with fish in excess of 3kg taken each year.
Best times to fish: There is no real peak time to fish the Mitta River. Trout can be caught from September, when the season opens, right through until June. Great fishing can be had from February through to May with larger fishing running up from the Hume Weir, especially if the river has a good flow at this time.
Bait: Best baits are earthworm and maggot in the cooler months and grasshopper, mudeye and crickets later in the season. It is best to drift these through the pools and runs with just enough weight to have them trundling along the bottom.
Lures: There are many fine trout lures on the market. My favourites for the Mitta are the Baby Merlin in rainbow or brown trout pattern, (but there are other colors that are well worth a try including black and gold and green and yellow). Rapala CD 3 and CD5. Again rainbow trout is a great color to try, but their Perch and Brown Trout colors have also taken fish. When the water is very high I like to use the heavier lures, even up to CD 7's. If it is low try the floating 5 cm lures. Mepps, Wobblers, Jensen Insect Spinners, Celtas and even Tassie Devils are all worth a try. The heavier lures are often needed when the river is very high.
Flies: Fly fisherman need to have a variety of fly sizes when fishing the Mitta. There are some huge dun hatches that require size 12 or even 10 to match. At other times smaller is better. Royal, white and grey Wulff flies work well, as do many other dun pattern flies. I like to use these floating high on the water, but also carry flies with a parachute hackle or cut the bottom of the hackle off to represent emerging duns. During the day fish the edges with beetle or grasshopper patterns, especially in the warmer months. I also carry white moth and elk hair caddis flies and it is also worth having orange, black and red ant patterns with you.
For the wet fly fisherman, bring a variety of nymphs, both weighted and non weighted and various streamers.