Shallow water delights
  |  First Published: May 2014

The last month proves yet again that autumn is truly the pick of the whole year when it comes to champagne fishing in the Gippy Lakes. In my last report I predicted that the surface luring and sight fishing for bream would improve but it is much better than I could ever have predicted.

Flathead, tailor and mullet can also be found in their usual haunts for this time of year, using bait or lures. Countless pinkie snapper are still invading the lower areas of the lakes around Metung to Nungurner and yellowfin bream are as far up as Wattle Point. It's also been another great year for the prawns and you will find them all sizes and in very good numbers from Kalimna to Metung.

Shallow water

Bryan Lazarro joined me recently in his brand new Hobie Outback and we enjoyed some incredible sight casting to big bream. The fish were right up in the shallows around Raymond Island and very hungry. Bryan threw an unweighted Squidgy Bug at them and we watched bream to 38cm, rush over and slurp his lure off the top just metres away from his kayak.

I continued my love affair with the Bent Minnow and missed a few aggressive takes so I flicked a tiny 2” plastic around for better success. We only scored a modest 12 bream for the session but when you sight fish and trick them with surface lures, I reckon each capture counts for three!

Sadly dozens of bream rushed our lures only to keep their jaws firmly closed. At one stage Bryan spied on a monster flathead he called at least 90cm and so I cast out to where he was pointing. I hooked up immediately but it was only a dusky of about 40cm and I suggested he needed glasses. As I steered the nice flattie towards my net, suddenly we watched a huge croc that came steaming in and tried to eat my fish! Bryan was right – it was at least a 90cm long flathead with a massive wide head on it. It scared the hell out of my little flattie and the two anglers looking on! I released my terrorised fish but he was nearly croc food there for a few seconds.

Metung and Paynesville

Meanwhile down at Metung and up to Paynesville the bream have moved in right on cue just as they did this time a year ago. It is nothing to see 50-100 big bream just sitting under boat hulls or around the jetties. They can be caught but you need stealth to keep well back from them and cast a small suspending lure worked slow.

Once a fish is hooked, regardless if you land it or not, you won't get another as all his mates quickly spook into shut down mode. Therefore you need to be constantly on the move and if you succeed, expect your bream to measure between 35-45cm.

I suggest you use at least 10lb leaders and even bigger if you expect to keep your lures. Often these bream sitting high in the water refuse to eat anything after first light and I get sick of watching them knock back all my tiny plastics. So I drop a few blades alongside the jetty pylons into the deeper water and get my bream this way. Not to mention any number of 20-25cm pinkie snapper and the odd flathead to 53cm.

Twice now I have also hooked some very heavy fish that hit like a bomb and scream off line but both times I shredded these things that I had no hope in turning. Someday I'll beat one of these mystery fish and get back to you.

I've also caught a few nice bream to 36cm on surface lures and cast into shallow water opposite Metung in the early morning. You will see and hear bream chasing prawns around and a cast in that direction has seen those bream keenly attack my Bent Minnow.

Bait fishing

Sorry my report is dominated with lure angling but I can tell you live shrimp and crab have been the stand out bait at the moment. I watched land-based anglers on several occasions on the Tambo River banks and down at Hollands Landing, have almost nonstop action. Some were also having a little success with frozen prawn but sandworm was only getting smaller fish.

Over the next month or two you can expect bream to take shell baits as well because all the fish I'm catching even now have all had bellies jam packed with broken mussels or some type of shell.

River monsters

Although the huge number of bream that were in the rivers six weeks ago have mostly moved on, there is still good sport in the Tambo and Mitchell. I found out that some real trucks are calling the upper sections home with my best bream landed going 44cm. The surface action has slowed up but they will still rise in the early morning. Your best bet is using a Z-Man motor oil or Amber Grub (2.5”) and work it close into the edge then step it out and down the steeper banks. The bream will soon let you know where they are holding by where in the water column they eat your lure.

Owen Pierce fished the lower Tambo recently and says he saw big mobs of bream in the clean water at least 45-50cm long, and nearly every one of them had a severe dislike for hardbody lures!

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