For the last three months the whole Gippy Lakes area has been fishing the best I can remember. It looks set to improve even more as the teeth of winter start to bite into those short frosty days. This is when the really big bream start bending rods right over and estuary perch turn up when you least expect it.
Winter flathead will also continue to bite well into July and surprise plenty of anglers with their size. Get busy folks because historically this exceptional winter fishing usually winds up by the end of August.
Those big angry EP have turned up again and we have horsed in some real truck models up to 48cm. It's fair to say that hardly anyone targets them with bait because they provide outstanding challenges on lure. But be assured a live prawn or a hook full of live shrimp will out-fish lures any day!
The hardest part is tracking them down; they are so elusive. At the moment we are finding them in a few select locations and not in huge numbers. The Mitchell River remains their real stronghold and I've caught small 35cm perch down near The Cut recently, but most anglers are getting them upstream of the highway. There have been plenty caught in the Nicho, Tambo or even Latrobe rivers and also out in Lake Wellington.
You get the idea of how widespread they are and, even worse, they can disappear from all these places overnight, seemingly for no reason at all! Scott Findlay sent me a picture of a truck 48cm perch he caught on a soft plastic and said it pulled like a b-double! He was less informative as to exactly where he caught it and told me to, "Go look in a Gippy Lakes swamp!” In other words, mind my own business! I understand because EP are so hard to find and most blokes who catch them keep their location very dark.
Scotty has good reason to be so swampy because he found 8 big perch on that trip and around 40 bream to 35cm.
I have been searching for EP in the lower Mitchell and some days have been most rewarding. I've not stacked big tallies and to get 8-10 fish would be a good result. I got a few on Hurricane Bent Minnows and also tricked a few smaller perch with flies. On one occasion I landed 7 big EP with most of them 40-44cm all on soft plastic 2” grubs. Other anglers have used blades and crab lures to locate perch.
If I were to go out tomorrow and target only EP, then I would launch in the upper Mitchell River and work the area between the two bridges.
As usual for this time of year, the bream head for deep water and school up in their hundreds. For the most part catching these bream is not all that hard when you drop sandworm or live shrimp down to them and small blade lures are probably even more effective. The real trick is to wade through the countless smaller bream (between 22-30cm) and try to locate the bigger fish. Sounds easy right? The trouble is that the number of juvenile bream in the whole system is mind blowing!
We should really rejoice in the huge number of small bream as one day they’ll grow into much bigger fish and sustain our great fishery. I can't believe some people curse and even get angry about catching little fish. I'm happy to see the tiddlers as ‘little bream, big fun’.
Persistence has paid off however and during one recent crazy session I landed 28 bream on blades; 4 of them were 43cm and the rest were 37-42cm. I stumbled onto a school of very big bream and I spent four hours on them until they shut down on me. I have found the blue-nosed bream a few times now but most of my catch remains around that 30cm length.
The best locations for these big bream will continue to be the lower Nicho River right down to the entrance, and the same goes for the lower Tambo where you need to fish in at least 4m and sometimes deeper.
Places to avoid now are Metung where the bream have suddenly shot through and the lower Mitchell has millions of bream but hardly anything over 24cm. Mick Caulfield and Stevie Wheeler went searching the salty and clear water edges around Lake Wellington recently and to my surprise pulled some very good bream to 40cm from the shallows on hard body lures. It goes to show that not all bream go and school up in deep water for winter.
Finally a quick word on the duskies. Because a lot of us are fishing deep with lures or bait, it is no surprise to see heaps of flathead turn up as a welcome by-catch. Interestingly, as we move into middle winter the flatties we now catch are getting bigger and more plentiful.
As usual they are moving way up into the rivers and are thick right now in the Mitchell behind the town where all the fruit bats are roosting in the bank side trees and right up the Tambo either side of the Blue Hole.Reads: 700