Location: Lake Purrumbete, Victoria (Fishing Guide)

06 Oct 23
Lake Purrumbete is a very popular fishing and holiday destination near Camperdown. The lake is located within an ancient volcanic crater, and as a result holds incredible depth (60m) and crystal clear water. It's long been regarded as one of Australia's most productive salmonid fisheries; at one point holding the world record for rainbow trout growth rates at over 11kg in three years! Today the lake remains a popular choice; easily accessible, lakeside campgrounds and a variety of fish at jumbo sizes. Let's take a look at what you can expect to catch at the 'Bete and how you can go about targeting each species.

Brown/Rainbow Trout

Today, the fish at the top of the Purrumbete angler's bucket list is the mega brown trout. The lake has produced fish over 12lb many times in the last few years, with fish to 8lb caught fairly regularly. That's a serious sized trout, but they don't get big being dumb! These fish are hard; novice anglers do fluke one occasionally but to consistently land big Purrumbete browns you need patience, persistence, the right tackle and a bit of luck. Most of the big browns are taken either livebaiting with mudeyes or gudgeon, or casting lures. A few are also taken downrigging. When fishing bait, set yourself up with light leader (6lb) and a bubble float, with a hook to match your bait size. A longer, soft rod will make this easy. Fishing weed edges with deep water drop offs, particularly on the eastern and northern banks, is the preferred area for both bait and lure fishing for the mega browns. Lures such as the OSP Bent Minnow, Zipbait Rigge, Daiwa Presso, Berkley T-Tail and Gulp Minnow, Daiwa Bait Junkie Minnow and Fish Arrow J Shads have all produced their share of big browns when fished with a quick, erratic retrieve. Use a 2-5kg rod for a bit of extra power, with an 8lb leader. Prime time for these fish has always been around sunrise or sunset; most experts only fish these times when targeting the larger size class. Fly fishing over the same areas with big wet flies, especially in those low light conditions, will also be super productive.

Rainbows hold over these same areas but seem to hang deeper in Purrumbete, so the best bags are usually caught downrigging with Tassies, or fly fishing around the edges. Big rainbows aren't as commonly caught as the big browns but they're certainly in there.

Chinook Salmon

Alongside Lake Bullen Merri, Purrumbete is really the only place to go in Australia if you want to catch a chinook salmon. And why wouldn't you? They're easy enough to catch, fight very well, take a range of lures and baits, and grow to over 20lb in this lake. Big ones still lurk in the depths; fish to 8lb come up every now and then, and an 18 pounder was caught just a few years ago. Flashy lures really get the attention of the chinooks, whether you're casting the edges or trolling deeper. Most of the fish caught off the edges are smaller, from recently stocked to about 3lb. Big fish come along on occasion and give the unsuspecting trout angler a surprise. If you are serious about salmon, bait fishing with pilchard cubes in a berley trail, or downrigging with Tassies, is the way to go. Bigger fish will school in numbers deep so use your sounder to find them before deploying a bait or lure. When you're fishing deeper, time of day doesn't matter as much as it does with trout on the edges.

Tiger/Brook/Cheetah Trout

Since the introduction of these fish about 4 or so years ago, anglers have been having a ball catching these aggressive, pretty fish, particularly tigers which have acclimatised well into the lake. Casting small hardbodies and plastics into the weedbeds around the lake is basically guaranteed some interest from a tiger and is great fun. A twitchy retrieve with a few pauses really gets these fish fired up. Most will be smaller, 2 pound or less, but there is tigers in here over 8lb! They can be caught trolling or baitfishing, but the vast majority are caught casting or fly fishing from a boat back into the weeds.


Love them or hate them, redfin are the main drawcard for many Purrumbete anglers. Many locals consider the redfin to have detrimentally impacted the trout fishery since their introduction; after all, there's millions of fat fish in the lake and they have to eat something. Regardless, they're popular for their ease of capture, willingness to bite nearly every day, and good table qualities. There's nowhere else so easily accessible to catch such large numbers of redfin with the chance of a bigger one. Bags of 50 fish or more are caught basically daily at the lake, with fish to 45cm coming along regularly. Most people use a live minnow paternoster rig (with minnows caught at Lake Bullen Merri), fished vertically over schools of fish located on the sounder. Jigging these same schools with soft plastics, vibes or metal jigs is a very fun way to compile a big bag too. You can find redfin schools literally anywhere in the lake; use your sounder to search for schools between 6-15m. You can also expect plenty of reddies when casting plastics around the weeds with a bonus trout.