Bream improving
  |  First Published: October 2008

The good news is that anglers in the Gippy Lakes are a lot happier this month, with better catches right across the system. Even the lure anglers are getting in on the action.

catches on the up

At last we are seeing some nice bream being landed right throughout the rivers and lakes. A lot of anglers are saying the fresh snowmelt has fired up the fishing. All the rivers flowing into the lakes have significant flow now and we are seeing the best spring flush out for many years.

The snowmelt has the added bonus of running very clean and this might help in clearing up some of the green, algae rich waters. The Tambo has turned up good numbers of bream down from the highway bridge and quite a few luderick are in the mix as well. Shrimps have proven popular bait, but don’t forget to try chunks of striped tuna either.

The Mitchell has also been producing well, especially around The Cut area, where a few small flatties have been caught on prawn.


Still in the Mitchell, a lot of mullet have been caught down at Eagle Point and a few upstream in the backwater. If you use a berley of bread and fish oil you can bring in big numbers of mullet and have fun for hours. I still reckon deep-fried fillets of mullet are a real treat for the whole family.

Blade Lures

On the lure fishing front, full points go to Mitch Chapman and Gez Hawthorne for hooking a few bream on steel blades. Landing a few nice bream was a just reward for their effort. It proves the big bream are there for those prepared to look and the boys were unlucky to have dropped a few others as well. They said Hollands Landing was very quiet and they had to venture out into Lake Victoria to find the fish.

Special mention also to gun tournament anglers, Chris Burbidge and Phil Smallman who also put a nice tally of bream together on lures, in the same area.


Firstly, just a very quick mention about our Victag program. I say “our” program because all of us own it and benefit from the amazing data it produces. Most anglers these days are well aware of the fantastic work volunteer taggers have made for about 15 years now. Hundreds of everyday anglers have made exciting recaptures of whiting, bream, sharks, perch and snapper. I want to make a thankful acknowledgement to the Victag co-ordinator Bruce Robinson, who has doggedly got the program back into order. He has not only devoted tireless hours of work, but also attained scarce funding for the program’s survival. I know there is still a long way to go to keep Victag alive in the future Bruce, but from all anglers, thankyou for your tremendous volunteer efforts.

Acoustic tagging

I got a call from research scientist Jeremy Hindell recently and he told me of the latest tagging project he and Joel Williams are undertaking in the Gippy Lakes at the moment. Jeremy has studied bream and flathead movements in the lakes over many years now by inserting electronic tags into them and tracking their movements. The data are quite amazing, with some bream swimming around 2000km per year.

Some of the flathead I helped him tag back then also showed some movement, but during the floods they just about stayed put. The fresh water did not seem to push them out of the rivers at all.

For this new study, they have positioned acoustic listening stations at about 2km intervals throughout the rivers and estuary, and have tagged about 40 bream and 40 estuary perch.

About twelve months ago Joel collected quite a lot of perch eggs right up in the rivers. They seem to appear when the water is 10-15ppt salt. The area of suitable water was quite extensive after the big floods of 2007, and Joel said this has possibly allowed the EP to spawn over greater distances.

The fact that the perch have spawned right up near the fresh water is an amazing discovery in itself, as it has always been presumed that EP’s spawned during massive aggregations at the much saltier estuary entrances.

Salt wedge

The study will be looking at how fish use the salt wedge for spawning and how the movement of the salt water influences the transportation and survival of the eggs and larvae. A part of this project is going to involve tracking movements of bream and EP throughout the estuaries during these actual spawning periods. As a result of this fantastic research, we might soon get a better idea of where both bream and EP spawn, and what level of salinity and water temperature they prefer.

Plenty of bream

It was also pleasing to note the number of bream the boys found in their research nets. The Mitchell River in particular had an incredible number of fish and Jeremy said they were astounded when each haul came up with bream spilling out of the net. All fish were safely returned, of course. It’s nice to hear about a healthy population of bream in the system.

Mitch Chapman with a cracker bream falling to another steel blade lure.

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