King George on the Throne
  |  First Published: April 2011

Surprises in fishing make our sport exciting and unpredictable. We all have stories about unexpected captures, especially while lure fishing and the Gippsland Lakes have certainly been delivering some quirky customers to the net.

How about sand whiting, King George whiting and garfish on blades? There have also been some truly thumping flathead caught and the prawns are now reaching their biggest sizes for the season. With the bream also hot on the bite, a few small gummy sharks caught just inside down at Lakes Entrance and large flounder on the go I could fill a couple of pages on this report!

Big Crocs

Getting 1.2m of angry dusky flathead into the boat is one hell of an effort. The angler who managed this record capture, took some pictures and released this leviathan guesstimated at around 8kg. I also got word that just a few days prior, two other big girls were released at around 93cm. Congratulations to these anglers who not only had the skill to hook and land these thumpers but they deserve much praise for returning them to the water.

All of these big fish are said to have been caught in the North Arm not far from the highway bridge but I suspect with good reason, that the exact location may be kept a little ‘swampy’!

Whiting on lures

I spent another morning in the Reeve channel just east of Metung recently chasing more flathead and bream on metal blades. With a bag of four duskies all around 50cm tucked away for a feed I returned another 30-odd flathead to the water and enjoyed a busy morning on these great sport fish. A few hours into my session I watched some nice-sized fish chasing my lure all the way in but veered off at the last second.

I thought they were large yellow eye mullet and turned a blind eye to them. Shortly after one of those fish grabbed my blade, then after a feisty tussle and to my absolute shock, I netted a 40cm King George whiting. They weren’t mullet at all! With much anticipation, excitedly I slowed my retrieve down a little and was rewarded with two more of these yummy fish.

Then in came three garfish on my blade to make another surprise capture and add to the list of species I’ve now landed with metal lures. Boy is there anything these deadly lures won’t catch? Bait anglers also report on some nice whiting using mussel and squid strips so they are sure worth chasing at the moment while the water is still very warm.

Ha! King George whiting on blades, who ever thought.

Prawns and sharks

This is another bumper prawning season and one of the gurus at this game is Tony Cunninghame. He said the season got off to a good start with big numbers of prawns about 20cm showing up a few weeks after Christmas and they continue to grow and this month they will reach their peak. Tony reckons we could see as few as 18 prawns to the kilo so get your lights and nets ready for some late nights on the water.

His best session so far is 20kg of prawns with a few smaller bags when the out going tide was late or didn’t run hard. I’ve also heard news of gummy sharks around 1.5 metres being caught close to Kalimna and I don’t think a lot of anglers target them in the area. With a few dedicated trips I’m sure more gummies will turn up and a few big snapper would also not surprise.

Bream Biting Blades

After enjoying a day with bream comp angler Owen Pierce recently I came away learning another valuable lesson. We landed over 25 bream to 32cm along with a few flathead and tailor but Owen was the shining light with many more hook ups than me, by fishing a very light leader of 4lb breaking strain. I had to pinch some of his fine diameter fluorocarbon off him and give my heavier leader the chop.

I hooked three bream in the next three casts and then continued to hook bream for the last two hours of our session. For years I’ve argued against fishing so light and written plenty to back my thoughts, but a week later I returned to the Mitchell and experienced one of the hottest bream bites on blades for a long time. Most of the 40 odd bream I landed were on the light 4lb leader I’d left on from the week before.

I tried my old 14lb leader material and although I landed a few bream on that rig, I went many casts in a row without a hook-up. On the light leader I was getting hits and plenty of hook-ups on nearly every single cast and most bream were 28-39cm.

This is now the fourth time I’ve experienced light leaders smacking the bream, while my heavier lines hardly get a touch. I think I’ll sit down to a plate of humble pie in the near future!

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