We now approach that time of year when the Gippsland Lakes become a real puzzle.
The problem becomes a bit of a mind game as we all try to get inside the head of those fickle bream. Their brains now start to focus on all things sexy and sadly for a lot of bream, food is of little importance. The good news is that not all fish stop eating and it just means harder work to find those hungry ones. Good results will rely on perseverance. One thing I know for sure, with the recent rains and the rivers topped up with life giving water, it is going to be yet another bumper spawning season for the whole area.
First of all many thanks to those readers sending me reports and fantastic pictures, sorry I can't mention you all. One of the stand out efforts belongs to Scott Stevenson who landed big bream to 42cm in the lower Mitchell River and he may have seen the anglers lined up in this area because it is a real hive of activity at the moment. This area has always proven to be a late winter or early autumn hotspot and lure anglers in particular have been hooking big numbers of impressive bream.
But the real star of the show is Darcie Lia who wrestled in a 47cm bream on a cold, bleak, blustery day. She is one champion angler because rugged up under threatening storm clouds Darcie also took out first prize by a huge margin, to win the "Smilies Angling Club" comp. A reward full of merit when most people are back home rubbing their hands in front of a fire.
At this time of year bream start to gather at the mouth of all the rivers. This is when a sounder proves so deadly. It's a safe bet to start at the Tambo and search downstream from the boat ramp and strangely lures seem to catch a lot more bream than will bait. Further to that, blades will score you ten times more than all other lures combined as well.
Often the schools are spread far and wide along the length of the river, but with a sounder you can find the schooling bream and see them packed in tight together. Often they look to be many hundreds of fish strong and not always sitting close to the bottom, with some bream hanging mid-way through the water column. On any given day the bream will let you know how to catch them. Some days require a long pause, other sessions will need you to work a blade fast and vigorous and yet other days the bream will only attack blades jigged or hopped right on their nose.
Sometimes the lower Nicholson can hold the most fish and other seasons will see the Mitchell on fire. It pays to search around and stay mobile until you find them.
I've spent a lot of time at Metung recently and this place still amazes me. Huge schools of bream are still milling around but most of them have been modest fish of 26-32cm. Tailor have also called the area home with most of those toothy critters about 30-35cm long. The numbers of luderick I'm getting is another highlight and they are very fat chunky fish to 32cm that fight like little demons. The best surprise however comes in the way of yellowfin bream and although most of them are around 25cm, quite a number have pulled the rod down hard and sat on the ruler to 38cm.
With every passing year the yellowfin are growing in numbers and are more than welcome because they pull a fair bit harder than their cousin the black bream. To add even more mystery and surprise to the Metung waters, I even managed to land two estuary perch from its waters recently and another guy pulled out a nice sized yellowtail kingfish from nearby Bancroft Bay.
Craig Seignior is a name many keen bream anglers know. He has been very successful in tournaments and is a very accomplished lure angler. In fact he caught snapper on soft plastics way back in the early 90's. Craig ran fishing charters down in Melbourne but now resides on the Gippsland Lakes.
He is currently booking clients who wish to discover all about the Gippsland Lakes and catching perch, flathead and bream on lures. I've spent a bit of time with Craig recently and I'm a little shocked at his impressive knowledge about lure fishing so look him up at www.vsfa.com.au. He put me onto a big mob of bream recently again down at Metung out in deep open water, but the first fish Craig watched me pulled out of the school was an estuary perch! The odds of landing a snag loving EP in that area way out in open deep water is quite amazing.
Finally the biggest mother lode of bream is still hanging out either side of the Raymond Island ferry. Just about every fish is 26cm but at that size they still provide a little fun. During one five hour session there a mate joined me as we returned masses of bream with the biggest three going 35cm. They are out in about 5m of water and tend to sit about 1m off the bottom. The trick is to drop your blade down to the bottom, and then wind up your reel a few turns. Give your lure a few sharp jigs and wait for your rod to load up.
Darcie Lia caught this 47cm winter bream on sandworm at the mouth of a cold and windy Tambo river.Reads: 1125