Bullen Merri is about 70m deep, making it the deepest natural lake in Victoria, and Lake Purrumbete, a few miles south is about 45m deep. Both are located close to Camperdown.
Fishing the lakes has all the benefits of a traditional trip – the hunt, quality time with mates and being outdoors – but without the bash and crash of an ocean adventure.
The crater lakes have little inflow or outflow, instead, they’re fed by underground water, the evaporation leaving concentrated salt, which makes the lakes saline.
Species like salmon thrive and grow here at extremely fast rates. Victorian Fisheries stock the lakes with Chinook Salmon, Rainbow, Brown and Tiger Trout, and even Bass. By all accounts, they’re doing a bloody good job. This is the only place you’ll catch Chinook in the Southern Hemisphere. They can grow to 5kg in three years. Red Fin are also easy to catch with jigs and live bait.
Despite the size, accessibility and productivity of the crater lakes, you are quite likely to have this spot all yourself. Some days, it’s like our private pond and we’re catching them hand over fist! Maz Stowloweski says. “It doesn’t get any better.”
Maz reckons you can catch fish any time of the year. “These lakes are super-deep, so in the dead of summer when it’s hot, the fish will go deep. Then you need a downrigger. Weather has got a lot to do with it. One day, you’ll come here and it’ll be shut down, next day it can be fish after fish. I like a steady or rising barometer.”
You don’t need a big rig to fish the crater lakes, a 12ft tinnie with a two-stroke is perfectly capable and fishing from the bank is also an option.
Both lakes have well-maintained jetties and pontoon systems as well as cleaning tables. It’s not just fishing on offer, there’s also water-skiing, kayaking and even scuba diving.
*edited excerpt from The Captain Magazine “Fresh Is Better” feature article October 2022
Your boat won’t start corroding overnight.
Fish light – the fish typically won’t reef you.
Cheap – just grab a rod and go!
Comfortable – set up the lounge chair in your tinnie
No swell – you won’t spill your drink
Accessible – only three hours from Melbourne
Head straight to the pub for dinner afterwards, check out our top picks for parmas and pots
You don’t go home smelling of fish (assuming you don’t use bait and catch and release). If you do keep one, the family won’t complain, either.
Less competition at the ramp
Fewer jet skis
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Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Great Ocean Road region the Wadawurrung, Eastern Maar & Gunditjmara. We pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise and respect their unique cultural heritage and the connection to their traditional lands. We commit to building genuine and lasting partnerships that recognise, embrace and support the spirit of reconciliation, working towards self-determination, equity of outcomes and an equal voice for Australia’s first people.