Massive bream and those wonderful winter flathead
  |  First Published: August 2012

In some areas of East Gippsland, the 2012 winter floods will become a measuring stick against future events.

The overflowing western headwaters of the Gippsland Lakes became headline news right around the country and these floods are still impacting on our waters today. The Morwell River, Traralgon Creek, Thomson River and the Macalister River all threatened to exceed record levels and flooded many roads, homes and town CBD's. The Avon River rose with its usual ferocity and in its lower reaches around Stratford went from a trickling stream to a rampant surge in just 20 minutes. It even cut the Princes Highway as it swept trees, huge hay bales and even ill-fated cows down its muddy mess.

The Mitchell and Tambo had similar flows impacting heavily on farmland, roads and towns. But a’ fishing we will go and nothing stops anglers around these parts.

Big bream

The big bream are back again and have turned up right on cue, just as reliable as morning frost in July. Just prior to our latest deluge the lure fishing was excellent. The numbers of bream into the mid and high 40cm dominated the talk here. Phil Smallman is a bloke who is one of the real nice fellas in fishing. You come away a superior angler and a better person when you spend time with him. He also spends life in a wheel chair but that hardly puts a dent on his fishing time and he has been the willing mentor to those new and old to bream fishing.

On his annual trip to Hollands Landing with the Knox Angling Club, for the third year running Phil weighed in the biggest bag winning their comp yet again by a huge margin. His five bream came in (and released) at 6kg with most of them around 43cm. Phil's team mate Tim Goldsmith just got the one big fish but at 1.96kg it was a fair thumper of a black bream! A mighty fine capture on lure and I think Tim is more than happy to give Phil just a little credit for his catch of a lifetime.

Just six days after the floods hit the lower Gippy Lakes, bait anglers started to catch huge bream to 45cm with the best enticement by far being black and cut crab. Prawn and shrimp are also worth a try and there are still plenty of bent rods on the jetties at Paynesville and Raymond Island now that the waters are starting to subside. As always bait anglers really cash in immediately after these huge flood events and expect the Tambo and Mitchell rivers to stand out in my report next month.

Dirty water luring

Just eight days after the floods there were a few brave souls chucking lures into the mire and it's like trying to tempt bream in water the colour of iced coffee. The numbers of fish landed were far from record breaking but the results still quite amazing. A few kayak anglers worked the same jetty pylons that bait anglers were getting big bream on and they found success.

Blades, plastic vibes and jigged soft plastics all worked to some degree and most bream were either side of 35cm. The focus has since turned to the lower Mitchell River where bigger bream to 41cm have been a regular catch and it proves fish always feed vigorously in flooded waters.

Another thing all lure devotees are now very aware of is that bream can see lures in extremely chocolate-coloured waters. Some will say they sense a lures vibration but many of us are less convinced about this theory because a lot of the new hardbodied stick baits and soft plastics we are now using have no ‘vibe’ at all yet get taken just as often.

How it all happens doesn't matter but these days I approach dirty water with more confidence and let's face it, after five years of regular floods we have had no choice but to fish muddy water or stay at home!

Winter Flathead

Some stud dusky flathead have also been caught in big numbers proving they are certainly more than just a summer favourite. Kevin Beams returned over 40 duskies to 60cm around Paynesville right in the depths of winter and nearly all of them were impressive fish between 45-55cm. He used mainly blades and a few soft plastics for the session and I expect more flatties to show up before the water warms up later this month. Kayak guide Chad Aumann took a client, new to lure fishing, to the same area just after the floods and got his punter a 62cm dusky and quite a few bream to 34cm in the brown murky waters.

Looking forward

As with every flood we can expect our fishing to really peak over the coming weeks and it seems whenever you add soaking rain to our environment, everything in nature fires up both on land and in water. The rivers and lakes around here should be in very good shape for the months ahead and no doubt the bream will get very busy during the spawning season ahead.

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