Fishing has got to be one of the most rewarding activities you can do with your kids. It gets you outdoors and gives you the chance to have some one-on-one time while doing something enjoyable. What’s more, bringing in a fish is not only exciting for kids, but it can give them a real sense of achievement.
As much as we'd like to spend every weekend chilling out on a riverbank with the kids, realistically it can be hard to find the time. If you’re a Victorian though, there are a heap of options for fishing within towns and cities around the state.
Every school holidays the Department of Agriculture stocks lakes (over 80 statewide) with ready-to-catch rainbow trout, for the specific purpose of encouraging families to go fishing. Of course, not all of these fish are caught in the holiday periods so these lakes are worthwhile fishing destinations all year round.
Granted, it’s unlikely that you’re going to snag a 5kg monster, but for most kids a 25cm trout (and they’re usually around this size) is a decent haul that’s not going to put them through their paces too much.
Many of these lakes are flanked by playgrounds and barbecue areas – so you can cook your catch for lunch there and then – making them ideal spots for a day, or afternoon, relaxing with your family.
What to use
Rainbow trout are a great species for kids to catch because they are relatively easy to bring in and go for a wide range of baits and lures.
Hard body lures like minnows (try the ones that look like little trout), small Tazzie Devils, bladed spinners, soft plastics and Berkley Power Baits are all solid options. Or, if you want to kick it old school, a worm on a hook with a small split-shot sinker or a float is a tried and true method.
It’s a good idea to keep your drag fairly loose and when you get one on the line, take your time reeling it in. It is also worth considering a landing net as trout can be extremely slippery. Patience is key – if you take your time with your quarry, you’ll have a better day overall.
Just bear in mind, you will need a fishing licence before you cast your line out. These are inexpensive and can be bought online at Fisheries Victoria. Funds generated from licences go back into stocking programs and the like. A daily bag limit of five trout applies, of which only two can exceed 35 centimetres.
Our top five
Albert Park Lake
Albert Park Lake is stocked with 1000 rainbow trout three times a year in the first, second and third term school holidays. It is also reported to hold some large yellowbelly (golden perch) that still inhabit the waters from a stocking program that saw tens of thousands of the fish introduced to the lake over a decade ago.
The lake is only a stone’s throw from the Melbourne CBD and is surrounded by 560 acres of rolling parklands. There are playgrounds, barbecue areas, and numerous sporting facilities and walking tracks all within the park’s borders. There is also a sailing club at one end of the lake: so you can sit on the bank with a line in the water watching the sailboats go by – not bad for the inner-city!
Lake Treganowan, Emerald
Lake Treganowan, also known as Emerald Lake, is a stunningly picturesque lake situated in Emerald Lake Park, in the Dandenong Ranges about an hour east of Melbourne’s CBD. The lake is stocked with 500 rainbow trout in the second and third term holidays.
Visitors not wanting to spend the entire day fishing can hire paddle boats, walk the many trails and tracks that run through the park and surrounding bushland or check out the iconic Puffing Billy steam train that stops on one side of the park.
There’s a bridge over the lake and numerous benches around the shoreline where you and your little ones can set up to try your luck. There’s also a kiosk, so if you don’t manage to catch your lunch, you can grab a bucket of chips or an ice cream to keep you going.
Lilydale is an outer-eastern suburb of Melbourne. The lake is stocked with 800 rainbow trout in the first, second and third term holidays. There are also populations of redfin, European carp, roach, tench and short-finned eel. At 28 hectares it’s a sizable body of water, and many anglers head out on kayaks to fish around the small island in the middle of the lake.
But for those of us with young children, there are numerous shady grassed areas and purpose-built fishing platforms on the edge of the lake where you can have a relaxing fish.
If you’re keen to give fly fishing a go, the Yarra Valley Fly Fishers club offers free casting tuition at the lake every Sunday morning.
Lake Sambell, Beechworth
Beechworth, in Victoria’s north-east, is arguably one of the prettiest towns in the state. Steeped in history, the former gold rush town is where bushranger Ned Kelly and his mother did hard time (and you can still go and see the cell they stayed in).
Lake Sambell is about 90 years old and is home to a range of fish species. It is stocked with 1000 rainbow trout in the second and third term holidays but also supports self-sustaining populations of redfin and tench.
Just outside the town’s central hub, and with a sandy ‘beach’ that backs onto a playground and barbecue area, Lake Sambell is a great option for a chilled-out fish with the kids.
Jubilee Lake, Daylesford
The township of Daylesford is well known as a hotspot for day-trippers from Melbourne, who frequent the town’s many cafes and tourist shops.
Jubilee Lake lies a short drive from the town centre and is surrounded by a holiday park, walking trails and a nearby mineral spring. Visitors can hire canoes and paddle boats to explore the lake that is stocked with 200 rainbow trout in the second and third term holidays each year.
Get out there
This is just a small sample of the stocked lakes on offer around Victoria. A comprehensive list can be found on the map below (click on the slide-out menu, top left, for detailed information), so why not find the lake that’s closest to you and head out for a great day with the kids.