Big flathead and mullet
  |  First Published: May 2013

The great mullet march of 2013! That's what I'm calling it because the mass of these fish that have now entered the Gippsland Lakes is quite a sight to behold.

The flathead have also given us a few surprises not just in size but in numbers and species type. As for the bream, well no surprises there because they are up to their usual tricks, biting their heads off one day and then cranky the next.

Mullet madness

On a recent trip chasing flathead I witnessed one of the biggest congregations of fish I have ever seen in the lakes. I fished with a mate in his boat and we drifted along in search of big duskies. We worked from Kalimna right up to Metung and what we saw was beyond belief.

The shallows were full of schooling yellow eye mullet, mostly around 25-35cm long. The water at times was so thick with fish and the mass of mullet so wide and long, you couldn't work out where the school began or finished. They even stretched way out into deeper water and were all swimming just under the surface.

When a pelican glided over the water about a metre from the surface the fish boiled and spooked under the entire 300m path the bird took. We then studied a few pods of dolphins leisurely cruising around in the area, looking almost too sluggish to swim and I imagined them with bursting fat bellies of mullet.

I can't wait to get back down there and get me a big mess of yellow eyes because my family loves these tasty critters wrapped in golden batter. Just in case you don't know, the best fail proof bait by far when it comes to hooking mullet is sandworm. Failing that, get a berley trail going with bread crumbs and tuna oil and use tiny pieces of raw chicken.

Try fishing under a float or on the bottom until you work out which works best. With winter fast approaching we should see mullet moving way up into the rivers and probably right up as far as Lake Wellington and Marlay Point. I will keep you posted. I have already seen big schools in the Mitchell River as far up as the flying fox colony.

Bream behaving badly

Too often I call them cranky but lately the bream have been downright spiteful and vile! I just hate these fish when they decide to treat any sort of lure like a bad joke. You can put a tiny little soft plastic right under his nose and I swear you can see the fish smile and turn towards you while poking out its little tongue! It would be almost better if they spooked off in fright but they hurt you harder than that! I suppose it's why we love to hate them at times and I suppose it makes the successful days all that more rewarding.

Even bait anglers have told me they have been tough to trick. Sure on some days all anglers get a fair run of fish and even a few big bream as well, but over the last few weeks things have been a real challenge. Give it time though and soon we will all take some welcome revenge on these pesky bream - they can't play silly buggers forever! I continue to pull a few nice bream to 40cm from Seacombe and Hollands Landing and other guys tell me the Mitchell is also holding plenty of bream from the highway bridge in town right down to the flats near the Nicholson River mouth. Some of the surface action has been crazy with the Bent Minnows again. The overall consensus however, is that the bream hooking is certainly challenging for now but I'm tipping the tables will turn very shortly.

Flathead with blue spots

Meanwhile it's all good news on the flathead front with a few big surprises as well. The flatty action has many months to go yet and catch rates will rise right through till mid-winter. We all know about the big dusky population but recently a lot of other flathead have appeared. From Lakes Entrance up to Nungurner has been an area where southern blue spotted flathead have returned in good numbers and some real trucks have been landed too.

Leah Morrison hauled in an 80cm blue spot and I've seen her in action before and she is a gun angler let me tell you! Other anglers have found more blue spots from 45-65cm and these flathead are easily identified with several large dark blotches on the base of their tail. The dusky flathead have a single large blotch on the top end of the tail and yes trying to tell them apart can get a little confusing at times.

If you have any doubts with identification of a flathead, well that's easy. Just treat it as a dusky flathead and you then you can't possibly break the new regulations for that species. (Hefty fines over $2000 can apply to those not up with the new regulations. Three offenders in Sale had a taste of that treatment recently with an embarrassing haul of 57 dusky flathead - well over the limit).

The guys from Tackle World in Sale went for a look recently with some terrific results. Ritchie ended up with six flathead to 60cm and Rick caught even more with both of them working the area around Kalimna. Most of the fish were blue spotted flatties.

With that news Neil Morrison and I went looking and used some new Kamikaze proto-type blades on the flathead in the same area. I horsed in a nice 72cm dusky that we got on film and three blue spotters. Neil landed five flatties and a beautiful yellowfin bream close to 40cm. It was a rather slow session but the horrendous boat traffic was not helping. That's what you get for fishing on a Saturday at lunchtime!

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