For a river so close to a city the size of Melbourne, the Yarra has a surprisingly healthy population of brown and rainbow trout. The river around Warburton is the best starting point for any trout fishing enthusiasts. The easiest access points tend to be where roads cross a stream, with the bridges providing good starting points for fishing one's way along the river.
If you plan to cast a line you will need an amateur fishing license (you can apply online). Licenses and bait also available from Warburton Hardware at 3459 Warburton Highway, Warburton and Mt Little Joe Nursery 3039 Warburton Highway, Millgrove and the Shell Service Station opposite the hardware store. Check out season and size restrictions too.
Here are some of the best spots in Warburton and surrounds:
Armstrong Creek, Upper Yarra Dam
Small creek 3 m wide upstream to 6 m wide downstream, rubble substrate. Has riffles 10-20 cm deep and pools to 80 cm. Excellent instream habitat. There is an onstream diversion dam which diverts water into the Melbourne supply system. There is no fishing upstream of this dam. Contains numerous small brown trout, river blackfish, abundant pouch lamprey and short-finned eels.
Big Pats Creek, Warburton
Small creek, 6 m wide, with predominantly shallow riffles 20-40 cm deep and pools to 50 cm. Rubble and sand substrate. Flows through forest and has a reliable summer flow and excellent habitat. Good access in the lower section. Contains small brown trout and river blackfish to 200 g and small spiny crayfish.
Brittania Creek, Warburton
A small creek with poor access being largely overgrown with introduced shrubs and blackberry. A fish survey found brown trout to 300 g, river blackfish to 38 g, short-finned eel to 108 g, rainbow trout to 80 g, mountain galaxias and small spiny crayfish. Not recommended as a fishing water.
Cockatoo Creek, Woori Yallock
A small tributary of the Woori Yallock Creek. Mostly shallow riffles with some pools to 150 cm deep, sand substrate. Most of the lower reaches flow through the Yellingbo State Nature Reserve, and restrictions on fishing apply (see details in Woori Yallock Creek). Contains some small brown trout, river blackfish to 280 g, roach to 300 g, small spiny freshwater crayfish, shorthead lamprey ammocoetes, southern pygmy perch, and mountain galaxias.
Don River, Launching Place
A small creek (2-3 m wide) with predominantly fast, shallow water, 10-30 cm deep, gravel substrate. This is an important spawning and nursery area for brown trout from the Yarra River. It has abundant brown trout to 275 g, river blackfish to 200 g, roach and short-finned eels. Other species recorded are mountain galaxias, and the introduced oriental weatherloach. The creek is seldom fished by the serious angler.
Little Yarra River, Launching Place
Width 6 m, extensive areas with water 50-80 cm deep, sand substrate with small patches of rubble/gravel in riffles. Banks 1-2 m high. Good summer flow and patches of good instream habitat (bank cover and debris). River Health Program works have included removal of willows and placing instream logs as fish habitat. Contains abundant brown trout av. 100 g, (max. 600 g), some small rainbow trout, river blackfish, short-finned eel and roach. Also some mountain galaxias, shorthead lamprey, pouch lamprey, southern pygmy perch and possibly Australian smelt. Not stocked since 1958.
Macclesfield Creek, Woori Yallock
Tributary of the Yarra River. Fish present are short-finned eel, river blackfish to 80 g, small redfin and roach.
McMahons Creek, East Warburton
A small creek 4 m wide, flowing through open forest. Riffles 20-30 cm deep and pools to 85 cm. Sand substrate in the pools and rubble in the riffles. Excellent aquatic habitat. There is a diversion dam for urban supply and no fishing is permitted upstream of the dam. Departmental fish surveys found numerous small river blackfish, short-finned eel and brown trout.
O'Shannassy River, Warburton
Upper reaches and catchment above O'Shannassy Reservoir (water storage Melbourne urban supply) closed to fishing. The river downstream is 6 m wide with riffles to 20 cm and most pools less than 40 cm deep. It has a boulder substrate and provides little habitat for larger fish. Not surveyed but contains small brown trout. Not worth fishing. A locked gate prevents vehicle access upstream from the junction of the Yarra River.
Sheepstation Creek, Woori Yallock
Contains short-finned eel to 400 g, small river blackfish and roach.
Starvation Creek, Warburton
Flows in State Forest with a parallel road. A small creek (width 4-6 m) with riffles 15-20 cm deep and pools to 40 cm. Rubble substrate with silt on the edge of pools. Good fish habitat. Contains small short-finned eels, river blackfish to 220 g, numerous brown trout to 200 g and spiny crayfish.
Upper Yarra Reservoir, Warburton
750 ha. 206,400 ML. Picnic facilities but no swimming or boating.
Melbourne urban supply reservoir managed by Melbourne Water. Catchment upstream including the Yarra River and reservoir is closed to fishing and boating. Receives water from the inflowing upper Yarra River and from Thomson Reservoir via a pipeline.
Woori Yallock Creek, Woori Yallock
Flows through flat farmland downstream of Yellingbo. Up to 6 m wide with extensive pools 100+ cm deep and riffles 30-40 cm. Clay and sand bottom in pools with patches of gravel in riffles. Has a good summer flow. Access is good at Maroondah Highway where car parking is available, but much of the creek (particularly in the lower reaches near the Yarra River) can only be reached through private property. Upstream of Yellingbo, the creek flows for 5 km through the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve.
Fish present include short-finned eel, river blackfish to 175 g, roach to 150 g, small spiny crayfish and brown trout to 350 g (av. 100 g). Also contains mountain galaxias, Australian smelt, goldfish, European carp, eastern gambusia, southern pygmy perch and shorthead lamprey. Freshwater mussels are common in this creek.
Upstream of Upper Yarra Reservoir
Catchment area of Melbourne Water Supply. Closed to fishing. No access. No information on fish populations.
Source: Victorian Fishing Authority