mtemu1Mt Emu Creek is one of the three major brown trout fishing rivers in Southwest Victoria and is commonly mentioned in the context of the larger Hopkins River into which it flows.

This potential of this creek as a stand alone trout fishery is often overshadowed by the nearby Hopkins and Merri Rivers, but for the bait and lure fishing enthusiast this water has established itself as a quality trout fishery.

For a small creek it can certainly carry surprising amounts of water, particularly in the wetter years. In fact when comparing it to the Hopkins River one could argue why in fact it wasn’t referred to the Mt Emu River and Hopkins Creek instead of vise versa. With its good spring flows, it’s interspaced deeper holes and riffles and consistent stocking regime, this water can produce some trophy brown trout for those who are prepared to persist. This ‘creek’ actually receives nearly twice as many fish on average than the well known Hopkins River.

Mt Emu Creek supports a primarily stocked brown trout fishery with the occasional surprise of a rainbow trout from time to time and although some believe there is the possibly of some isolated self supporting brown trout, it would be unlikely that these would support a fishery.

The growth rates of these fish are on par with those in the other southwest rivers at a rate of around a kilogram per year and because of the longevity of the stocked brown trout, the creek can produce larger fish. I have heard of fish over 4kg coming out of this water in recent years gone by and even tangled with a few myself that have won their freedom! Usually you can expect fish in the 1-2kg range on average. It is important to note that like other southwest riverine trout fisheries the quality of the fish is certainly the drawcard and that anglers should not expect the quantity of fish available from other Victorian waters.

Mt Emu Creek can fish well throughout the year, however I prefer to fish with bait in the larger pools throughout the warmers months and fish the shallower riffles and runs in the cooler months when the river is running or is flooded, using hard bodied lures or soft plastics. Certainly a combination of methods can work well on any given occasion throughout the year, but one of the keys to catching good quality fish from this water is by covering the water.

In the heat of summer and the lower flows that coincide I prefer to target the deeper holes with bait. These holes are ideal refuge for the fish in the hot summers and provide plenty of habitat, space and food to feed the fish. Don’t be surprised if there are number of good sized fish in one hole. Just because you catch a good fish in one hole doesn’t mean there won’t be others. Live bait is the best bait and mudeyes, black crickets, shrimp and galaxias minnows sourced onsite are the best offerings.

The water is usually quite clear in the summer so you need to use relatively light line. I prefer a fine 3kg leader at least if you are serious about landing a bigger fish and at night I go up to 4kg-5kg leader. The baits are best presented under a couple of metres bubble float in the deep holes, with the morning and evenings being the best times to try You are allowed to fish two rods so if the action is slow you can cast around a lure or soft plastic around on the other rod.

Spinning is certainly my favourite method and you can cover a lot of water in a day, increasing your likelihood of running into a beast! Of course there will be plenty of frustration and followers, but if you keep on the move with a few casts in each spot sooner or later you will get connected to a good fish. There are so many different lures available these days it’s difficult to choose what to use. I prefer minnow styled lures in the 5-7cm size such as Rapalas in natural colours that work well in moving water. Remember to use a loop knot to tie on your lure to get the best movement in the flowing water. I prefer soft plastics in the same size from three to four inches in size on a jighead of a gram or more depending on the situation with a strong number 4 hook. These natural looking plastics have certainly been a handy addition to the tackle box over the past few years.

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Skipton
The creek is only several metres wide through most of this area, but there are plenty of pools with adequate water to produce good fish through the warmer summers. There is some bankside vegetation in the form of red gums and the river is stocked at the Skipton Bridge on the Glenelg Hwy, usually with around a couple of hundred fish per year. Below Skipton fishing is mainly confined to the permanent pools and there is limited river access, unless you have permission to enter private property

Darlington to Panmure
As the river flows south there is plenty of larger pools interspaced by basalt riffles, although the area around Darlington is limited. Downstream from Castlecary Road bridge to the Princess Hwy Bridge (McKinnon’s Bridge) the river is quite shallow and narrow, flowing through open grazing land. As the river approaches the Panmure Township there are some excellent pools with shallower riffles in between. There is also better access to the river in this section in the form of roads transecting the river, such as Ayresford Road, Terang-Cobden Road, Simpson’s Ford Road and Vickers Road.

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Panmure to the Junction of the Hopkins & Mt Emu Creek
There is good access to the river from the Panmure Township. This stretch of water is interspaced with riffles and pools and as you move downstream towards Black’s Falls there are some wide and deep stretches that create good fish holding water throughout the warmer months. In these places the river can be up to 20 metres wide and the holes several metres deep. There is more extensive bankside vegetation with plenty of tee tree and eucalypts. Below the Black’s Falls plunge pool the river is not stocked so the fish in this section have either moved up from the Hopkins River at ‘The Junction’ (a major stocking point for the Hopkins River) or have migrated downstream from further upstream.

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Something to remember when you fish on the Mt Emu Creek is that there is plenty of snakes (I mean enough to frighten you at times!) in the warmer months basking on the basalt boulders - so dress appropriately to avoid an unlucky encounter!

Stocking sites
Skipton – Glenelg Hwy Bridge
Darlington – Hopkins Hwy Bridge
Glenormiston - Castlecarey Bridge
Terang – Princess Highway, McKinnons Bridge
Terang – Ayresford Road Bridge.
Panmure – Princess Hwy, Panmure Township.
*Note numbers of fish stocked may vary at sites from year to year due to environmental conditions.

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