Summer action promises to be as good as can be
  |  First Published: December 2012

Once again dusky flathead hold the crown as the symbolic Gippsland Lakes fish these days, while bream anglers need all their bag of tricks to find a score of fish.

Whiting are back on the menu but huge pesky carp have invaded all the western areas of the lakes and rivers around Hollands Landing. The Tambo and Mitchell rivers have been a little patchy for the usual bream haul but with a fair bit of effort and time numbers can be caught. You can also expect a few carp in these rivers as well.

Dusky Flathead

This is the time of year flathead have finished spawning and over the next few months they start feeding flat out. They begin to move back up into the lakes system away from their breeding grounds near Lakes Entrance. The dusky hotspots are now the areas from Kalimna right through to Paynesville and they will be hunting the lake edges, so work lures in water as shallow as 30cm at first light and move into deeper water by mid morning.

The biggest dusky I've heard about recently is a big girl just on a metre caught near Paynesville. Flatties are hardly fussy when it comes to what type of lure to use, but the real trick is to keep your soft plastic, blade or hardbodied lures always on the move. The more ground you cover the more fish you catch so use a vigorous retrieve and when you think you're fishing too fast, speed up some more! For bait fishing try a whole frozen prawn or small bluebait on a running sinker and wind your bait in to cover ground just like lure fishing.

New flathead regulations

By now most of you will be well aware of the new regulations for a bag of five dusky flathead. A slot limit is now in place at 30-55cm and I feel it has been welcomed by the vast majority of anglers: others have voiced much criticism. On the positive side, it now means the critical big breeding stock will survive and reproduce for many more years.

They are way too valuable to be caught just once and they also get to pass on their ‘big fish’ genes. It will also help replenish the huge numbers of fish that have been taken from places like Lake Tyers and Mallacoota. On the negative side, a few people are saying that the new regulations are too hash for the vast Gippsland Lakes system.

They are of the opinion that in this system we do not have a flathead resource issue at all and that recreational anglers have very little impact on the stock. Another downside for rec anglers is that commercial fishers will continue to take the 20 odd tonnes per annum out of the Gippsland Lakes and there is no upper size enforcement on them. It seems such a waste to see huge duskies between 70-95cm ending up on dinner plates.

I wonder what your thoughts are on this issue?

Cranky bream

Those wily, snooty nosed bream are at it again and one would almost think that they hardly ever eat! As always a few nice reports have turned up with the odd angler catching a fair run of bream but on the whole times have been lean. The upshot to all of this however, is that when a modest bag of big bream can be tricked the rewards seem so much greater.

I know a lot of people probably don’t get the whole bream-on-lures thing but it has become an obsession for so many anglers for a very good reason. Just days ago I got a new PB on fly at 44cm. Most of us have been working the jetty pylons around Paynesville and Metung and you have to drop a sinking lure right at the base of the pylons to get a hit. There's a smattering of big bream to 40cm to keep things very interesting and I've also found the odd small yellowfin between them.

Bass recapture

As promised several issues ago I now have all the details on that tagged bass that was caught a while ago. Way back in December of 2001 a 35cm bass living above Bruthen in the Tambo River was tagged by a volunteer Diary Angler.

This program sees keen anglers recording all their captures in a diary that is then sent to a fisheries department for evaluation of fish stocks. This bass then went on to live another 11 years after being tagged and released, then turned up again in a commercial net on the 1-10-2012.

The fish had grown to 50cm and over 2kgs. It was recaptured in Jones Bay, part of Lake King where the Tambo River enters the salty estuarine waters. It was a remarkable result on many counts; being at liberty for 11 years represents one of the longest times a tag has stayed in a fish of any species; the growth of this bass from 35cm to 50cm highlights their long life expectancy; being recaptured in amongst a heap of estuary perch confirms the common hybridization of these two species; and last but not least, it was nice to see this fish survive hooks and nets for a long period of time.

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