Lake Wallace’s Rampaging Rainbows

By Alex Hickson

 

Lake Wallace is found close to the Central West town of Wallerawang just off the Great Western Highway ten minutes west of Lithgow on the Central Tablelands of NSW.

 

Wallace Lake is stocked annually, ensuring good numbers of fair sized fish can be expected
Wallace Lake is stocked annually, ensuring good numbers of fair sized fish can be expected

 

Along with its south western aspect Wallace has an elevation of close to one thousand metres, making it perfect trout water. A relatively small piece of water at only 5 megalitres when full Wallace was built to hold water for the cooling towers of the adjacent coal fired power station which is no longer generating power for the grid and sits dormant in the background.

 

Lake Wallace allows non combustion boating only, that is sailing boats, kayaks, canoes and electric powered boats. The surrounding park and recreation area at the lake is also registered as a “short-stay” caravan park. There are no facilities except for toilets so bring everything you need if you intend to stay a night or two. Other places to stay include the Black Gold Country cabins or the Commercial Hotel both in the town of Wallerawang itself.

 

The local redfin are gaining in size and number quite rapidly. Local anglers are beginning to recognise that it is going to be a case of making the best of a bad situation with regards to these feral pests
The local redfin are gaining in size and number quite rapidly. Local anglers are beginning to recognise that it is going to be a case of making the best of a bad situation with regards to these feral pests

 

Lake Wallace or Wang dam as its known by locals is stocked annually with brown and rainbow trout. Australian bass can be included in this with a stocking history of over a decade now. The local Wallerawang CAS (Central Acclimatisation Society) has been looking after stocking and local environmental issues for over 50 years now and continues to assist with both in close liaison with NSW DPI Fisheries department.

 

The summer period is the time to target Wallace's bass, their capture is generally noteworthy and well worth the time and effort put in to get one on board. Use traditional lures and techniques on this native species for best results
The summer period is the time to target Wallace’s bass, their capture is generally noteworthy and well worth the time and effort put in to get one on board. Use traditional lures and techniques on this native species for best results

 

The fishing opportunities at Lake Wallace have certainly changed over the last handful of years with continued stocking of Australian bass and the ever spreading redfin blight in the eastern drainage of central NSW. The main target species of rainbow trout still dominate reports and while brown trout are allocated an annual stocking their presence is quite rare. The redfin are certainly making their presence felt and I anticipating that due to increased capture of this noxious species their dominance can be expected by the time this goes to print.

 

With the closure of power station the dam’s water levels have been noticeably higher and water spilling over the dam wall is now a regular event. The down shot of this is that the bass it would seem have taken the opportunity to take the plunge and head over the wall and downstream to Lake Lyell. Bass numbers in the dam could be better considering the annual stockings and the lack of reports but I believe their presence is neglected by the majority of anglers resulting in this low report rate. It is interesting to note that reports of good numbers of juvenile bass have been reported further up the Coxes feeder arm of the dam and some of its smaller arterial feeders that connect to the main river before it spills into Wallace itself.

 

Chartreuse or bright yellow has proven to be a great base colour on lures used in Lake Wallace
Chartreuse or bright yellow has proven to be a great base colour on lures used in Lake Wallace

 

For the keen kayak fisher Wallace offers a number of plusses. Firstly access and launching is very easy. All of the western side of the dam can be accessed by vehicle right to the water’s edge, although there is a small sheer bank to contend with. The best option is launch at the northern end near the sailing club or near the rowing club facilities on the western shore opposite the Wallerawang Primary school. The gently shelving grassy bank is ideal for our purposes in both of these locations and the parking is also very convenient.

 

The dam itself is only small and it can easily be explored in a day. There are some restricted areas near the dam wall and also where the dam necks into the river arm as you travel north up towards the old power station. These areas are easily recognizable by a chain of buoys.

 

Fishing at Lake Wallace does require some thought. Generally a very shallow dam it has vast ribbon weed beds and for those with pedal kayaks it can play a bit of havoc. I know with my Slayer Propel I do a bit of vigorous reverse pedalling to rid the prop of weed occasionally. The deepest area is out in front of the dam wall where it bottoms out at about ten metres when full and offers relatively clear water for trolling and casting of the full water column. This deeper area is a great spot to target the local trout from both the shore and in a kayak.

 

Being quite shallow, mainly due to the expansive weed beds, it will pay to take some quite shallow running lures with you for trolling and casting. Bait fishing is very popular with bank based anglers and having a Powerbait set during your lunch break if you are there for the day is a great idea and at times it is the only way to catch Wallace’s rainbow trout, particularly during the cold winter period.

 

With the lake having very clear water most of the time, Wallace’s fish I believe hunt using their vision as much as their ability to detect prey with vibration and noise. With this in mind it can pay to use quite bright coloured lures. While many anglers prefer to use natural tones and patterns in clear shallow water I have found that bright coloured lures seemed to get noticed first in Lake Wallace. The natural minnows patterns that I have had success with have included both brown and rainbow trout patterns and adding the now well-known trigger response spots of the “Spotted Dog” pattern doesn’t hurt results either. The ubiquitous Tassie Devil and their various clones are always popular lures with shore based anglers at Wallace as they cast well and catch fish, having some of these in your box is certainly worth while as well.

 

Trolling or casting.

 

Many of the weed beds in Lake Wallace have quite defined edges and using your sounder when trolling will be a big asset especially for the first time visitor. You can be happily trolling in five of six metres of water and all of a sudden you have a metre of water under you as you glide over a weed bed, recognizing this on you sounder will give you opportunity to change tack and keep you lure free from fowling up.

 

A mornings catch on lake Wallace. The trout will be smoked with hickory dust and used as a savoury hors d’oeuvres while the redfin will be dusted with salt and pepper flour and lightly pan fried and served with fresh garden salad
A mornings catch on lake Wallace. The trout will be smoked with hickory dust and used as a savoury hors d’oeuvres while the redfin will be dusted with salt and pepper flour and lightly pan fried and served with fresh garden salad

 

Historically winter has offered the best fishing in Lake Wallace but with the advent of both bass and redfin this is certainly set to change. While the bass are still quite occasional in their appearance I believe that this is mainly due to the fact that few anglers target them with specific techniques. Casting surface lures has proven their undoing on a number of occasions for some switched on locals during the hotter summer months. Other casting methods using lures like spinnerbaits, wakebaits and certain minnow styled lures have and will offer much better chances of catching these natives and also tend to omit the more common exotic species. As for the redfin, well they should be a popular summer species and remembering their culinary virtues they will be a welcome catch to add your creel at days end, just don’t lose sight of the filleting, as large numbers can at times be expected. Both casting and trolling will work equally as well on this species but if you want to catch good numbers of redfin quickly then bobbing or as its more commonly know these days jigging is the way to go. Redfin are a tight schooling fish so using your sounder to locate a school is the first job. This is best done in calm conditions or you will find that the wind will quickly move you off the school. Once located it’s a simple matter of dropping down a weighted jig style lure such as a soft plastic on a jig head or a more traditional ice-jig. Other lures that work well with vertical presentations include metal blades, vibes and spoons. Schools that appear to be off the bottom will generally be easier to catch as they are generally more actively feeding.

 

There is no doubting that Wallaces big rainbow trout are its key drawcard for visiting anglers. Catching them can require some versatility on behalf of the angler. Being in a kayak can be a big advantage as often it will boil down to covering water using a selection of techniques that cover both the water area and water column. Whether casting or trolling endeavour to fish both deep and shallow.

 

The ever reliable Tassie Devil is always worth trolling for trout
The ever reliable Tassie Devil is always worth trolling for trout

 

Lake Wallace offers a great opportunity for the kayak angler to test their skill on a number of southern freshwater species over a year round period and now with the added appeal of camping at the water edge it holds a lot of attraction for the traveling ‘yak angler. Its proximity to Sydney certainly makes it within striking distance of a day trip for many kayak anglers. Add all this together and I’m sure this small piece of tranquil sweet water will be put close to the top of many ‘yak anglers places to visit in the next season or two.

 

FACT BOX:

 

Tackle requirements for Wallace:

Trout and redfin 1-3kg rod matching reel with 6lb braid and a 3kg fluorocarbon leader.

Australian Bass 3-5kg rod matching reel with 6-10lb braid and a 6-6kg leader

Lures Trout. Tassie devils and similar, shallow running minnows bright colours between 40mm & 60mm. Bait: Berkley Powerbait

Lures Subsurface Bass: Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, beetlespins, medium heavy action diving shads.

Surface Lures: Cicada style paddlers, walk the dog stickbaits and wakebaits.

Seasons: Trout winter and Spring is best.

Redfin Year round.

Bass. Summer is best.

 

 

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