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A New Year, a new challenge
  |  First Published: December 2013



The New Year brings much anticipation and excitement to our fishing in the Gippy Lakes. The last few months have certainly provided challenges and it confirms what most anglers now agree on – late spring and early summer can be very tough times for those chasing bream, whiting and flathead.

That scenario is behind us now, and just as well as we have a bad memory about fishless days. Just check the results of the last few bream comps if you have any doubts on how hard the hookin’ has been.

Bream

Finally the black bream are coming back on the chew and it has been so frustrating to see big schools of fish with every one of them having an extreme case of lock jaw. The good news however, is that some bigger bream are starting to feed out in the lakes over the shallow sand banks.

The Mitchell flats will continue to produce bream over 40cm and that area is always at its best with a good chop on the water with 15-20km winds nearly perfect. Slow rolled hardbodies are one way to find skinny water bream but I also try fast worked blades and cover vast areas to locate the fish. Often the bream will respond better to a vigorous retrieve and chase down a ripped blade. I will slow the lure right down if I detect plucks and short takes.

The best thing about searching like this is the possible by-catch of flathead and whiting.

Other bream haunts to visit over the next month include the lake around the mouth of the Tambo River, Point Turner and Wattle Point.

Metung

As usual a summer hot spot for the holidays is always around Metung. You can base yourself here and head east to the entrance or in the other direction towards the Tambo or Nicho river mouths. Better still, search the area right at the Metung jetties or the shallow sand flats opposite. I spent three days there recently with the better half and we parked in one of the impressive holiday units overlooking the water. With just an hour or so each day flicking soft plastics and blades around the jetties we lifted in a few salmon, trevally and a single bream. I will return shortly with my kayak and explore the deeper waters for a few pinky snapper, whiting or luderick and then stalk the shallows for big dusky flathead.

The best thing about Metung is you can always find a spot to get out of the wind without having to travel far at all.

Another species sometimes overlooked here, especially for bait fishing, is mullet and you can find any number of them in shallow water using sandworm.

Raymond Island

Another holiday favourite is via the ferry at Paynesville and then over to Raymond Island. You can fish on foot or launch a boat or kayak from the island. There's plenty of accommodation options there too and the fishing can really hot up about now.

Surface lures can be slowly worked across the shallows that surround the island for bream and small sand whiting. This top water action is yet to really take off in the Gippy Lakes but a few clever anglers are always thinking outside the square and getting impressive results.

It won't be long before the word gets out about how flathead also come up and crunch surface lures, especially in the half-light of early morning. Tailor and salmon will hardly ever swim by a fast surface lure so mix up your retrieve speeds if the bream refuse to bite.

Again mullet are often forgotten about here and you should have no trouble seeing them in the shallows. Small bits of prawn or squid can catch yellow eye mullet but sandworm is by far the standout bait.

It always pays to have a few baits soaking out a little deeper as well because King George whiting are well known in this area over summer.

The rivers

As usual the banks of the Mitchell River right up into the town of Bairnsdale will play host to plenty of families trying their luck with bait. It pays to see where the bigger crowds assemble and use that as a guide for where to fish. Not many kids will stay as they get bored in the one spot for too long!

The silt jetties near Eagle Point will be your best starting point. This area always produces well over the hot months. You can drive the car right to the end of this land spit and spend a whole day trying many different spots along its length. More often than not schools of fish are stacked in just a few locations so it pays to move around.

Right up towards the other end of the Mitchell from the highway bridge up to the barrier, expect big numbers of estuary perch to attack your lures in the snags. They might be small fish but they are big on fun! The lower sections of the Nicho and Tambo will both hold bream and possibly flathead for those willing to search.

Happy New Year, especially to all of those anglers who have sent me reports and pictures over the last twelve months.

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