Gippsland may not be listed as one of the seven wonders of the word, but it is not too far from being on the same page.
When people think or talk about Gippsland they immediately think of Lakes Entrance and although it is a magnificent location in itself, there is a whole lot more to Gippsland than that.
Situated in the east of the state, Gippsland can offer anglers an extremely large variety of fishing and whether you’re in a boat, kayak, fishing from the shore or walking the edge of a river bank, everyone can catch a fish or two.
Year round the fishing is great but throughout the summer months, the fishing really hots up as holidaymakers descend on this magnificent place.
Gippsland as a whole has roughly 200km of fishable beaches. Some locations are inaccessible while others can be fished with the whole family.
The well-known Ninety-Mile Surf Beach attracts plenty of anglers throughout the year and delivers some amazing fishing for salmon throughout the winter period.
Anglers fishing from the beach can arm themselves with a selection of baits and cast into the gutters where salmon are abundant. Gummy sharks are also a popular catch throughout this period but it is during the summer months when the larger models tend to be caught. Along with gummies, bronze whaler sharks and seven-gill sharks are a common catch for those in the know. Specialised techniques are required in order to catch them and many locals have refined their art over years of regularly fishing for them.
The Ninety-Mile surf Beach begins roughly at McLoughlins and runs right up to Lakes Entrance. The entire beach is fishable where you can gain access, but in order to catch fish you do need to be fishing in a deep gutter.
For the weekend angler, settling for a handful of solid salmon and a nice gummy shark makes hitting the surf worthwhile.
Fishing from the beach does require the use of a surf rod at least 12ft in length with a substantial reel capable of holding at least 300m of 25lb line or 30lb braid. Heavy sinkers will be required if there is a side drift and may have to be up to 6oz in weight.
Scattered reefs line the offshore waters off Gippsland providing anglers with a large variety of species to catch, including snapper, flathead, nannygai, gummy sharks and of course mako and blue sharks.
Weather conditions will dictate whether or not you can get out as the bar can be dangerous to cross in rough seas. Once through the bar, there is a lot of water to work and if you’re new to the area, finding good fishing grounds can be a challenge in itself. To find potential grounds, your best to either sound around and find some rubble on the bottom before fishing or just drive out to the 40m line and begin to drift. Drifting allows you to cover ground where you’ll pick up a host of species including gummy sharks, snapper, nannygai, flathead, sweep and plenty of other species. Drifting is best when the winds are low and most anglers prefer to use a paternoster rig as is suspends two baits off the bottom.
If you’re in tune with your sounder, you can always drive around searching out the isolated reefs where you can then concentrate on them and might pick up a better array of fish.
Those fishing for larger sharks also need to drift and set a very solid berley trail. There are some big toothies offshore so make sure you’re up to speed on the gear, baits and how to handle one if caught.
Launching ramps throughout Gippsland are found at Port Welshpool, Port Albert, McLoughlins Beach and Lakes Entrance. The Port Albert and McLoughlins Beach ramps are good for boats up to 5m but you have to launch on a high tide or face being grounded. Both locations have bar crossings to get out into the ocean so if you’re inexperienced at bar crossings, I suggest you go with someone who is.
Gippsland is without doubt the home to bream fishing and with its many estuaries and rivers, bream thrive throughout the area. Fishing for bream from a boat requires anglers to work the shallow banks and snags, which are found along the edges. These can be thick with weed growth; submerged trees, which have fallen into the waterway and even any of the small jetties that are scattered right throughout the lakes entrance waterway. At different times of the year, bream will be found in different areas but throughout the summer months, most will be found along the rivers and lake edges.
Anglers fishing for bream can use a variety of techniques with the more common being lure fishing. Bream take a variety of lures and while small soft plastics work well, twitching hardbodied lures around the snags is unbelievable fun. Yo-zuri Eba Shads, Duel Hardcore Minnows and Zerek Live Shrimp are deadly on bream.
Flathead are also in abundance throughout summer and there are some big models to be caught. Gippsland is the home of big flathead and if your going to catch one over the magical 1m mark, this is the place to do it.
Soft plastics are the most effective lure for flathead with the Keitech 3” swing impact proving to be the lure of choice for many anglers. Plastics should be worked along the bottom and around rocky outcrops where flathead will lie in ambush awaiting an easy meal to pass.
From the bank, anglers can also cast lures and work them back towards the bank. It is funny to think that boat anglers cast from the water to the bank and catch plenty of fish, which are usually held up on the edges. For a land-based angler, working the edges is easy enough as your standing along them when fishing. Once again, small hardbodied lures, soft plastics and metal vibe lures work a treat.
Bait anglers also do quite well with live sandworm, crab and local prawns are downright deadly. These can be caught locally at Lakes Entrance and certainly work a treat. A running sinker rig is recommended when using live baits.
When the prawns start to run in the summer months, it is a family affair walking the banks and scooping them. They are best on the new moon and during a run out tide when they swim out of the estuaries and out into the ocean. Anglers wading the banks on a balmy night can catch quite a few kg easily. Prawning is a lot of fun and if your heading to Gippsland in summer, take some waders and a net and get out prawning, you’ll be glad you did. Top places to catch prawns are around the edges of Lake Tyers and around Bullock Island at Lakes Entrance. For best results you’ll have to wait until the new moons and work the shallow flats from the top of the high tide until the low tide.
Those anglers who are looking for a little more of a challenge can head inland to one of the many rivers in search of trout. Though you will do the miles, rivers such as the Snowy and the Brodribb produce some amazing trout fishing in the summer months. Even then, back towards Port Welshpool, the Agnes River above the waterfalls is equally productive. Those fishing for trout are either on foot or in a kayak. Walking the banks and wading the rivers is the most successful as kayaking can be very difficult in places. The best technique is to flick small trout imitation lures about, concentrating on the snags, deep pools and fast runs for both brown and rainbow trout.
Small 6-7ft rods with 1000 size reels and 4lb braid are more than enough but keep in mind, some of this terrain is difficult to muster though. If you’re a bit of a mountain goat, you will stumble across some pretty productive territory.
There is certainly more to Gippsland than meets the eye and for the weekend escapist or annual holidaymaker there is miles of potential fishing locations that see very little fishing pressure. Finding them can lead to many dead ends but when you do find access to somewhere special, you might notice that the only footprints are your own.
Local fishing charter operators:
East Gippsland Charters, FRANK MILITO, ph: 0400 564 032
Specialising in lure fishing the estuaries for flathead, bream and trevally.
Lakes Entrance Offshore Charters, Sarn Eckhardt, ph: 0434 778 275
Specialising in offshore fishing for snapper and sharks
Places to stay
Lake Tyers Camp and Caravan Park, http://www.laketyerscaravanpark.com.au, ph: (03) 5156 5530
Lakes Entrance Tourist Park, http://www.lakesentrancetouristpark.com.au, ph: (03) 5155 1159
Long Jetty Caravan Park, www.longjettycaravanpark.com.au, ph: 1800 630 704
Fishing gear requirements
Surf: 11-12ft surf rod, 6000-8000 series reel with at least 25lb mono or 30lb braid and 15-20lb leader
Offshore: 7ft 8-12kg rod, 6000-8000 series reel with 50lb braid and 60-80lb leader
Estuary: 7ft 2-4kg light graphite rod with 2500 series reel with 6lb braid and 5-6lb leader.
Rivers: 7ft 2-4kg light graphite rod with 2500 series reel with 6lb braid and 5-6lb leader.Reads: 2506