Winter in Gippsland means two things: frosty mornings and big bream. Back in early April a few rain-soaked cold fronts barrelled across the state and we got some serious Gippsland downpours.
The rain was mostly slow and steady with minimal run-off. In the end we dodged a bullet as far as major flooding and although many rivers rose with higher flows, most of the Gippsland Lakes remain clean and the area has continued to fish extremely well.
Flathead have been caught all over the place at the moment from Hollands Landing right down to Metung, with plenty of them now moving into the rivers.
It's fairly well known that flatties are caught in big numbers during early winter and more are probably landed at this time of year than over all of summer. The lower Tambo and Nicho rivers are regular hotspots right now and in the Mitchell from the Silt Jetties right up to the highway bridge.
I'd say 90% of the flathead I've been catching are about 20-25cm with the odd bigger fish to 54cm.
There's no shortage of bream action at the moment and the focus now is all about finding the bigger fish in that 38-45cm bracket. Over the last three months smaller bream between 22-30cm can be caught in their hundreds just about anywhere you wet a line, including all the popular haunts like the Mitchell River above the highway bridge and down near the Cut, the lower Tambo, Paynesville and Metung jetties, Hollands Landing, and the Nicholson River.
Be warned, a box of sandworm will disappear in no time at all with the hoards of small bream making short work of any bait on a hook.
As far as lure fishing goes, it has been amazing with the surface action still a standout. The Hurricane lure called a Switch 66 is doing all the damage and it's a bent minnow surface lure at 66mm long with an action you have to see to believe! This lure drives bream nuts and on one occasion I landed 41 bream on it. And yes it took me half a day to get that tally, and I missed hooking just as many.
I can't begin to explain just how much fun I have while watching countless bream pouncing on a top water lure. It is such exciting sport to experience such visual fishing so get some of these Switch 66 lures and see for yourself. Peter Nord from Bairnsdale took his mate for a spin in the lower Mitchell recently and they managed to boat well over 60 bream for the session on the Switch 66 and other Hurricane hardbody lures.
Mark Ramsay from Traralgon took his home-made crab lures down to the lower Mitchell River recently and he was joined on the boat by father and son team Scotty and Ryan Findlay. The three boys caught just over 175 bream for the day during a very hot bite on blades.
A few decent flathead to 50cm and tailor to 40cm made it to the net as well and you can expect this action to continue until the end of June or even July. Jason Deenan joined me a few days later and we searched the same spot of river with the Ramsay Crabs, Hurricane Switch 66 lures, 30mm blades and soft plastics. We got about 40 bream each for our efforts to 38cm and about 8 flathead as well. This is the sort of action fairly common at the moment and every so often a few huge trucky bream turn up like the 47cm model I did battle with recently. If I had my digital scales on board I'm sure that fish would have made 2kg.
Just a quick mention of the Austackle Flathead Fishing Classic held recently in the Gippsland Lakes and Lake Tyers estuaries. There were 158 entries, which meant that plenty of fish were going to be caught and the event will no doubt be a further success in the years to come.
Catch and release was very much promoted and the average sized flathead for the entire event was close to 55cm. The biggest flattie went 79cm and quite a score came in between 70-75cm.
Special mention goes to the junior winner Rhys Bryant who shoved $250 in his pocket for catching a big 75.3cm dusky. Rhys has been endowed with very fishy genes because mum and dad Nikki and Blair are regulars on the Victorian bream comp scene.Reads: 1871