2013 will go down as a stellar year for bream numbers and sizes.
Right across the whole Gippsland Lakes system from east to west has featured some of the best fishing for bream in years. From the jetties around Lakes Entrance right up into the reaches of the Latrobe River, bream have been on the chew. The years of high water flow have certainly made an impact but at the moment we are in a very low flow regime and therefore the water clears right across the system and salt water pushes far into places like Seacombe and Lake Wellington.
This adds up to one thing; excellent fishing. Even flathead, yellowfin bream and luderick show up into the western areas and while the fishing is hot I suggest you get busy! The very best areas for lure anglers have been in the Mitchell River up behind Bairnsdale, Paynesville jetties (for very big bream), Metung (for big numbers), Wattle Point and Loch Sport for stalking the flats and the upper Tambo and Nicholson for snag sport. The same areas of course also apply to bait anglers with the addition of Hollands Landing, Seacombe and even Marlay Point.
All the signs were there from late last year when it finally stopped raining. In fact we ended up with months of nearly no rain at all and I suppose we call that a drought? Not good for farmers but bream anglers now rejoice. I've experienced some of the best lure sport in four years of late and these last three months have been red hot.
I almost expect a lot of bream between 42-45cm with each trip and I hardly see a bream under 28cm. Some days I can sight fish the bream for hours on end and throw unweighted plastics to cruising or feeding fish and other days I hook fish deep and schooled up with blades. Even better has been the return of some white knuckled snag sport with locked drags and heavy leaders. Speaking of beefed up leaders can you believe a top comp angler in Chris Burbidge has resorted to 20lb leaders to stop some of the big brutes around barnacle covered structure - and he's still getting shredded and losing lures!
When big bream get nasty, it can be an expensive day out. The best lures by far for the snags have been sinking hardbodied vibes like Crankas or the Shinku stick baits. I've also had good sport with bibbed lures weighed down with lead to get them deep into the structure. A few of us have also encountered a lot of big perch almost as by-catch while snag fishing. One morning I landed 12 out of 16 hook ups with some nasty fish almost impossible to turn. No wonder I had trouble because one I eventually tamed went a whopping 51cm. The lower Tambo continues to produce very big bream for blade anglers and I'm thinking these schools and numbers of bream will grow a lot bigger yet as winter really sets in.
Meanwhile other anglers have been up to new tricks with blades. Robert Braz showed me some amazing sport in the shallows of Lake Victoria. His technique is to cast a small blade right up into shallow water almost to the water's edge and then rips the blade back to the boat with the speed that would make a salmon angler proud! I was gob smacked to see him pull bream after bream while I looked on and hardly raised a bump with my twitch-twitch method.
Of course I then got my blade to work a lot faster but even then I had to double that speed again to get results. In all my years of hooking bream on lures I haven’t ever seen them smash such a fast moving object. He used a constant and aggressive rip-rip-rip sort of method and the results were hard to believe.
For a couple of hours during that half day session I swear he got a fish or at least a few hits with nearly every retrieve. Incredible. I've always known that blades work in very shallow water and in fact that is probably my favourite trick these days, but to see bream totally ignore my ‘traditional’ slower retrieves but then smash a lightning fast blade in just 60cm of water almost re-writes the book!
So now I have a new method to play with and it proves we still have a lot to learn. A good mate in Bryan Lazzaro joined us later that day in his boat, and found a big school of bream on the sounder and pulled out 14 beautiful bream to 40cm on a blade slowly tea bagged down to the fish. He then hauled in 15 perch and two bream off one gnarly snag also using a fast sinking blade in very thick timber - which is again almost unheard of. More on his amazing feats next issue because I have a feeling he will be busy with these EP and bream over the next month or more.Reads: 1014