Here comes the crazy season as the Princes Highway fills with 4WDs with caravans or boats in tow, and the ever increasing number of kayaks strapped to car rooves.
The local economy surely needs the dollar spending tourist but we have to find a few hidey holes to avoid the water traffic. I'll share a few tips and ideas for all parties in this report and with the huge expanse of the Gippsland Lakes, there's room for all of us to have happy hooking.
Flathead have been very slow to awaken this year and I put it down to a couple of reason. The huge influx of fresh water over the last six months not only keeps the salinity levels down but also delays the all important water temperatures from rising. This year has probably been a normal one with healthy winter and spring rains with plenty of wind. When we have droughts and low river flows the water stays salty and probably warms up quicker.
Big flatties then fire up very early in November but this year I reckon they will be about a month late and so early to late December will be prime time: just when the caravan parks fill. So to target the big duskies you need two keep in mind two things. Get on the water well before sunrise and start your search very close to the entrance, like the North Arm and Kalimna.
To avoid boat traffic head up towards Metung and stop a few times here and there to flick lures or work your baits. The fish will let you know where to settle down and what sort of depths to work. If you are after a really big dusky and some photos for bragging, then when you find a good run of average-sized flathead while lure fishing, throw out a big live mullet on 20lb line. The big girls can at times ignore small or even big lures but hardly ever knock back sumptuous live bait.
This is where my report turns a little sour! I'm going to tell you how it really is and hopefully you go out and prove me wrong. I love my bream sport but only when they decide to actually open their mouth to eat! The last few months on the bream, bait or lures, have been absolutely frustrating to the point of disgust! Back in mid October about 100 bream anglers searched every corner of the Gippsland Lakes for a Vic Bream Classic event. Can you believe about half of those gun fishos failed to put a single bream into their bag for the weigh master!
All the guys I talked to said it was the most difficult and demanding tournament ever! Especially because day one was stunning weather and the boys were sounding up squillions of shut down bream! This is not so unusual really because historically bream have always been very tough during late spring and early summer and it's the main reason I refuse to chase them and spend those months hooking hungry perch instead.
But there is good news. Firstly, during that bream comp although numbers were well down, at least some very large bream were pulled out and quite a few between 1.4-1.8kg. So at least that raised a smile for some battle weary anglers and proves yet again that the lakes hold trophy bream. The other good news is get ready, because I guarantee you the bream will start to bite very shortly and they will be super hungry. Speaking of thumper bream in the Gippsland Lakes, Ayla Deenen was fishing with her dad Jason near the mouth of the Tambo using frozen prawn. She landed the bream of a lifetime at 50cm and 1.95kg.
Whiting, mullet, flounder, luderick and even snapper are right now coming on line so get to your favourite haunts and try your luck. As usual the bottom end of the lakes will fire the best for these species and look for where the most boats are anchored up because that will be where the fish are.
Australian salmon and tailor are also still hanging around here or there and they were even caught at the mouth of the Tambo recently swimming around with carp! A lot of people get all fired up about the prawns before Christmas and invariably get let down. The best months are February through to late April and into May and this trend may have changed over the years I'm not sure but keep it in mind. A forgotten fish however is the mighty flounder and if you must get out looking for prawns this early then walk around in the shallows and take a spear out with you. I couldn't survive summer if I didn't put a few flounder under the griller. You can find flounder anywhere between Kalimna in the eastern part of the lakes right up to Loch Sport in the west.Reads: 800