Bream, sharks and flathead
  |  First Published: November 2010

With the month of November here, beach anglers will rejoice with healthy enthusiasm for the start of the gummy shark season.

Gummy sharks

I followed land-based gummy shark fishing since I was a teenager and I would have to say its still one of my personal favourite pastimes. In the 1970’s gummy fishing was almost an obsession for local east Gippsland angling clubs with reports of 50-60lb sharks not uncommon.

I had the great pleasure of fishing for gummy shark for the first time at Gibbs Beach east of Lakes Entrance when I was 10 years old back in 1981 under the guidance of then expert local gummy shark angler Dave Preston.

By midnight I think we had bagged a dozen 1.2-1.5m long gummies and that is certainly a night on the surf I will never forget.

Unfortunately the gummy took a absolute hammering in the early 90”s with over fishing from all sectors proving near fatal to the population .The introduction of commercial and recreational quota in the preceding years has certainly sparked an increase in numbers of shark available to anglers and a renewed effort in beach fishing interest.

As far back as I can remember the two most popular baits for these sharks were fresh squid legs or cured eel fillet.

Wherever possible I like to use fresh salmon fillet or even a live spotty salmon as these two baits are very natural to the coastal habitat. Gummy shark seem to prefer a deeper beach with calm nights proving more productive fishing.

The full moon in November is credited to be the pinnacle of the shark fishing calendar for east Gippsland, however I prefer the week before the full moon as the tides are rising from early evening.

Also the new moon to first quarter with rising tides in the evening is a favourite time for me personally as the dark night can produce allot bigger shark in the right location. Lake Tyers and Lake Bunga beach are key shark location at this time of year for the surf-fishing fanatic.


Water temperatures of 14-15C at this time of year also see the start of dusky flathead season. These angling favourites awake from their winter slumber and become highly aggressive to a well-presented soft plastic lures.

The fish seem to migrate in large numbers at this time of years from the top end of the lake system to the shallow sand banks of the Reeves and Hopeton channel in search of prime breeding conditions.

This activity is monitored through increased commercial catches inside the estuary at this time of years. Research indicates that most specimens over 50cm in length will be viable breeding females with the smaller specimens of below 40cm in length most likely to be males.

The king prawn run looks to be another ripper this year with lots of small bait prawn being dipped around the back of Metung and Tambo bay at the moment. Wandering the shallow sand banks at night in search of bait prawn is when you will see a massive flathead lying in wait in the shallow for these tasty snacks.

I fairly sure that the flatties rely on the prawn run every year to put on condition for spawning in late summer. For this reason prawn lures such as the DOA 3” shrimp in natural or 312 colour is dynamite when fished on the big lizards on shallow sand flats.


Recent flooding experienced in the Wonnangatta National Park saw the Mitchell River at Bairnsdale burst its banks for almost a week with a torrid of muddy water distributed through the lower Gippsland Lakes catchment.

This massive influx of high-siltation freshwater effectively forced most of the fish out of the river and into Jones Bay and Lake King where record commercial catches of spawning black bream took place.

As the fish retreated in search of more suitable conditions into the Tambo and Nicholson rivers some excellent sport fishing on River2sea vibe lures was available. I teamed with expert lure angler and Nicholson local Dale Patterson had session of 30 fish and over with a high percentage of them around 1kg using River2sea Baby vibes and Ecogear SX40 bibbed lures.

Most of these fish were heavily in spawn and all were released live and well to finish what nature had intended of them.

Current soundings on my HDS-10 Lowrance side scanner have indicated that large schools of bream have remained in the Tambo River as conditions are suitable to finish their spawn.

The midsection of the Tambo River between Swan reach and Johnsonville holds the greatest number of fish at this stage with good catches being reported on blades and soft plastics.

I urge all anglers to be aware in November that this is a high recruitment and spawning time for black bream in the rivers and to perform catch and release where ever possible to help conserve stock for the future.

For more information on lure fishing for black bream East Gippsland you can contact Frank at East Gippsland Charters on 0400564032.

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