Hopkins River bream still on the small side
  |  First Published: July 2013

The beginning of May saw yet another Bream Classic held on the Hopkins River, which raised more questions than it answered.

I feel a few things need to be commented on; the main issue being the ongoing lack of big, blue nosed bream.

Basically 45 teams consisting of two anglers fished this waterway for two days. In that time literally hundreds upon hundreds of undersize bream were caught and immediately released boat side. Only seven teams managed their two-day bag limit of ten bream and the average legal fish weighed in by all was less than 400g.

Only four fish weighed in managed to equal or crack the 1kg mark with the big bream for the comp weighing in at 1.41kg. The question is where are the rest of the big bream? For the Hopkins River this is yet another disappointment regarding the lack of solid bream in recent years. Are they gone for good or just having an extended holiday somewhere?

In saying all of that, despite two fish kill events this year the Curdies River is fishing well with bream spread up and down the river’s length.

I have had several trips there recently and it’s a great sight to see anglers landing decent bream. Many boaters static fishing with bait have their creels over the side and others fishing lures have had good bream swimming in their live wells.

I’ve personally taken bream to 39cm although many fish landed seem to fit into three brackets: 29cm and 32cm are the first two then comes the third and bigger bracket with fish 36cm and above.

Several anglers including myself have had great success casting minnow lures that have the ability to dive up to 1.8m right up close to the bank with follows and takes all happening within the first metre or so of retrieval. It’s very visual not to mention heart in mouth excitement.

I have no reports on the Gellibrand River, as it seems very few locals are fishing it for bream and perch after the major fish kill that occurred there very recently. However a further recruitment of soon to be sea run brown trout should make their appearance in the lower reaches over winter.

Of course the big news occurring offshore is the southern bluefin tuna scene.

Recently feeding schools of SBT were located just several kilometres offshore from Port Fairy in depths around 70m. Although many tuna caught ranged from only 12-30kg in weight a few larger barrels were hooked, landed or lost. One monster caught tipped the scales over to 101kg and was caught by visiting anglers from Wonthaggi. It is all happening down this way and the Princes Highway is solid for offshore boats being towed to/from fishing ports such as Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Portland. Trolling octopus lures and deep diving X-raps amongst surface feeding schools remains popular.

The rain is falling in copious amounts and winter is finally upon us. I’m not a fan of winter but I’m a definite fan of rain especially when we have received very little in the south west for the last six months. I predict that sooner rather than later our local rivers will flow once again and our estuarine systems will either open naturally or reach critical mass and be opened manually.

This is certainly worth the wait!

A Curdies bream taken from the bankside weed on a semi-deep diver.

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