Spawning bream on the run
  |  First Published: October 2011

Record rainfall totals may tumble this year. So far we have had between 600 to 1000mm of rain right across the state and it seems to have rained on every week of the year here in East Gippsland.

With three months to left of the year and with November historically the wettest month, I suspect 2011 will re-write the record books with well over 1m of annual rainfall.

All the rivers that feed the Gippy Lakes continue to run hard and dirty, which means anglers are having to reach deep into their bag of tricks to catch fish and plenty of us have stayed home refusing to shiver through another wet and windy day working muddy water. We won’t be beaten however and most of us are just biding our time and waiting for the right conditions to make up for lost fishing time.

Terrific Tambo

One river that seems to save the day is the ever reliable Tambo River and spawning bream have again moved into its lower reaches and a lot of them have also worked their way up past the highway bridge. Bait anglers are telling me the best bite times are around noon with prawn and raw tuna working best in the dirty water.

Downstream from the bridge and half way back to the boat ramp have been the more productive areas but it’s fair to say a lot of anglers have found the going rather slow. There has been almost every size of bream eating bait in this area with just as many 20cm fish turning up as 40cm fish.

It pays to move around a lot and look for the bigger bream. Further down to the mouth of the river some big bream to 47cm are being caught on blades and hardbodies and a few very big flathead have turned up as by-catch too.

On Paul Conn’s boat a while ago he and a mate, Mario Vukic, released about 75 bream for the session and a 98cm dusky that ate a small black blade. This ain’t a lizard it’s a flippin’ dinosaur and a great fish, Mario! This is an indication of just how big flathead can grow here in the Gippy Lakes; on digital scales it went 17lb.

Get ready for some ripper flathead reports on numbers and sizes as we head into summer, especially because of the amazing amount of duskies we all caught and saw earlier this year, was amazing.

Might of the Mitchell

The Mitchell really is a mighty river that is fed by some high volume streams from the southern watershed of the Gippsland snowfields. The Wonnangatta, Dargo, Crooked and Wongungarra rivers all end up in the Mitchell.

These streams can flow hard but fairly clean with snowmelt and it can be amazing how quickly the river at Bairnsdale will clean up in early or mid spring.

The whole catchment is mostly in good order, which is why huge numbers of bream and perch seem to always live in the Mitchell. It really is a year round fishery almost unaffected by floods or droughts

The river also seems to be a ‘nursery stream’ where a stack of small sub 30cm fish school up in prodigious numbers and little bream can black your sounder out for 1km or more in the middle sections of the Mitchell. You can also find big numbers of perch with some structure yielding a 25cm EP with nearly every cast at times.

Less common are the big bream into the high 40cm but this spring a number of them have been caught in the low 40cm tucked up right on the river edges down at The Cut. The middle sections of the river have few, if any large bream and the deeper you fish the smaller they get.

If you want to target bream over the next month I suggest you drive no further than the Mitchell for your first port of call. The only downside of this river is that monster carp also call it home so think twice about fishing 6lb line or lighter.

More illegal nets

Sick in the guts – that’s how a mate described it when he rang me one afternoon recently, as he uncovered an illegal net full of dead and dying bream. He had already rang the 13FISH number or 133474, and fisheries officers were on the scene ASAP.

I congratulate and thank the officers involved for trying to protect the fish so precious to all of us. I also applaud my mate for making the effort to ring the authorities and I reckon it has now become a proud Australian trait to dob in a wrong doer. It was the other way around I suppose in years gone by, but not now.

Sadly, illegal netting still happens, even if you have never seen or heard of it yourself, be aware that there are still people out there who adhere to these feral practices. Don’t hesitate to report on suspicious behaviour or nets that might seem out of place.

I believe the commercial netting sector in the Gippy Lakes always abide by strict regulations and they should in no way be associated with this element. The only good news is that most times the illegal fish killers are brought to justice, having to face fines and forfeit not just the illegal net, but also vehicles and boats as well.

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