Winter chills bring hot breamin’
  |  First Published: June 2008

My report this month will highlight the great bream fishing now on offer right across the Gippy Lakes. The green waters are ever so slowly cleaning up, but in any case we have all learnt to live with them over the last six months.

The algae have had no impact on fish size or numbers. Bait fishing has been the stand out method in the murky waters, but I have an interesting story on new lures that are now proving their worth on the Gippy bream as well. The usual flathead run of late autumn and early winter seems to have stalled this year, although maybe that has more to do with less anglers chasing them.

Tambo River

Winter time means the banks of the Tambo will be lined with anglers rugged up against the elements and pulling bream from the many fishing platforms, jetties and open banks.

With sandworm still unavailable at the moment, the best baits are live shrimp and frozen prawn. However, there is another bait worth trying that is proving deadly at the moment, as was pointed out to me by Wayne Brown of Traralgon.

Wayne parked a few kids on the jetty near the highway bridge recently for a few hours of fishing, and helped them land a terrific run of big bream. The kids started hooking some really big fish and a couple of rods were just saved from getting dragged into the drink. Young Nicholas Jones was the star angler hauling in a whopping 47cm trophy. So, what was the secret bait? Chunks of striped tuna. Wayne swears by this as one of the best bream baits going, yet hardly anyone uses it. Whole frozen striped tuna can be purchased from most outlets and cut it into small cubes or thin strips.

While on the subject of alternative baits, another mate of mine, Willie Shingles from Maffra, uses an even more surprising temptation. He scores a lot big bream on chicken meat and buys fresh breast fillets from the supermarket before he heads off fishing (see also the Nelson report – Ed.). The message here of course is that there are no rules in catching fish and those who experiment can discover a pot of gold. With traditional baits like sandworm off the menu at the moment, give something different a try.

Mitchell River

Bream have also featured in the Mitchell, mainly around the Silt Jetties and The Cut. Most fish have been from 24-35cm. Flathead are always found in this area as well and drifting with fish baits or soft plastics should find you a few.

Estuary perch have been caught well upstream, mainly around bridge pylons and the few snags found behind the township of Bairnsdale. Most of them have been 30cm or less but they are still great sport on lures.

I keep hearing of large bream coming out of the Backwater on frozen prawn, and it seems anything caught in this little hotspot is always over 35cm – so it’s well worth a few hours of soaking baits. One of the biggest bream I’ve heard of came from here not long ago. It measured 56cm.

Nicholson River

The Nicho usually gets far less fishing pressure than all the local rivers and for me that makes it all the more appealing. Unfortunately land-based anglers have very few options here, but if you can get a boat into the Nicho head well upstream.

For some reason big bream love to call the upper reaches of this river home and that can be both good and bad. Old cagey bream are definitely harder to catch but when you hook one in this waterway it’s usually a good one. If the water is fairly clear then lures will be an exciting option in the Nicho above the railway bridge, or try some of the baits mentioned above as a back up.

New Lures

Metal blades are unique lures that have been around for about a year now, but Victorian anglers are just now starting to find how deadly they are. Designed to sink like a bullet they require fairly specific deepwater techniques, but I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with them lately. The latest ABT bream competition in the Gippy Lakes saw the best results come from anglers using these metal blades, including a 20kg mulloway caught at Metung. These lures are very bright and flashy and really stand out in dirty or deep water.

How they work.

These hard metal blades are pressed out in the shape of a baitfish, and vibrate wildly when retrieved. They sink fast allowing you to work them very deep to bream holding near the bottom. Most metal blades have optional tow points to vary their action, and split shank ‘w’ hooks instead of the old treble hooks.

The w hooks are mounted to the blade body without the need of split rings. You can swim these over rocky or rough bottom and not get caught on the structure. You can actually feel the lure slide over snags without snagging up. Try that with other hard-bodied lures or soft plastics!

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