Location: Lake Bullen Merri, Victoria (Fishing Guide)

31 Aug 23
Lake Bullen Merri is undoubtedly one of Australia's most unique waterways, being an incredibly deep (66m) brackish lake within a volcanic crater. And the fishing is just as unique; being one of the only lakes in Australia where you can catch chinook salmon and tiger trout; as well as holding some of the biggest bass, brown and rainbow trout you'll ever see. It's clear, easily accessible by boat or bank and there's always a protected bay out of the wind. It's got an incredible population of galaxias minnows and gudgeons which form clouds along the bank and create a protein packed smorgasbord for predators. And that's why it's so popular!


Lake Bullen Merri is most popular for it's trout fishing; both brown and rainbow trout have been well established in the lake for years. The rainbow trout in particular have been a very popular target for decades, with many fish well over 10lb being taken over the years. Brown trout have also reached similar sizes. The lake doesn't seem to produce the same super sized fish it used to as regularly, but there's still some very large fish which get caught on occasion. A couple of years ago the first tiger trout stocking went into Bullen Merri; these brown/brook hybrids took very well to the lake and it's abundant food. These days, the tigers are pushing up to 65cm and are probably the most common catch in the lake. Most tigers are caught by casting along the edges, either by bank or boat. Flatline trolling also sees a few tigers landed, but they do seem to respond best to a lure twitched along a shoreline or weedbed. Rainbows can be taken casting, trolling or bait fishing; but trolling with a downrigger or bait fishing with pillie cubes is perhaps the most reliable method. Brown trout can be caught casting, trolling or bait fishing with live gudgeon at night time. The most popular lures for the lake include Daiwa Double Clutches in silver colours, Zipbait Rigges, Tassie Devils, Rapala Originals and X-Raps- these can all be cast or trolled. Soft plastics like the Gulp minnows or Fish Arrow J Shads are also a good choice for casting with. The lake is also a very popular fly fishing destination; there isn't generally consistent insect hatches but some great fly action can be had with streamers stripped down a wind lane or along the edge. Fly fishing the southern and eastern banks in the evening is popular and produces good fishing.


There's only two lakes where you can consistently catch chinook salmon in Australia; one being Lake Purrumbete just down the road and the other Bullen Merri. Bullen Merri is the more consistent producer. You can catch a chinook casting, trolling, bait fishing or fly fishing, but it's trolling and bait fishing that are the most reliable. Chinooks tend to school up and sit deeper than the trout, so a downrigger is the key to real success for trollers. Over the years, chinook to 23 pounds have been caught but these days the average size is around 1 pound; still, there's massive fish out there as seen by an 18 pound fish landed 5 years ago. The easiest way to catch a chinook is by bait fishing; get yourself a 2kg bag of pilchards and anchor up on a drop off. Cut the pillies into cubes, and burley up by throwing a few around the area. Tuna oil won't hurt too. Then fish a lightly or unweighted cube down the trail; and hold on once the fish show on the sounder! Flashy silver or white lures work best on the chinooks usually.

A lot of people still don't realise that Bullen Merri has a bass population; small in number, but giant in size. These fish are potentially the largest in any Australian public waterway; most measuring 50-60cm and weighing several kilograms, shaped like a soccer ball! These bass are a relic of early 2000s stockings, with the last stocking taking place in 2004. That means that in 2023 these fish have been living in the lake for at least 19 years; imagine the amount of lures dodged in that time! These days, the big bass sit deep on the western end of the lake, and are generally caught jigging with soft plastics or ice jigs. Even though you're fishing in deep water (30m), you still need light plastics to get the bite. A good sounder is critical because you're searching a big area for a small number of fish. With the population of bass reaching old age, anglers were worried we may have seen the last of these fish, but luckily the lake received a bass stocking in 2018 and has seen yearly top ups since so the bass are back!

It's been a popular spot on the weekends recently but if you get there on a weekday it's usually very quiet and fishes even better. So add it to your list if you haven't yet!