The best way to describe the fishing right now is challenging and tricky. The longer you are on the water the better your rewards because at the moment there are not many areas where fish are stacked in big numbers. The key words here are search and explore.
The good news however is that variety is the order of the day, making up for the lack of numbers. For instance I've just come home from a trip to Metung where I caught the following species all on lure – tailor, flathead, bream, pinkie snapper, gobies, toadies, gurnard, trevally and a sole. As you can imagine I put together a nice bag of fillets from some of those fish and the next night I scored a bag of mussels and a kilo of prawns. Life's good!
First of all I've got to talk about prawns because right now it’s peak season and these tasty critters have not let us down. A lot of people are now turning into night owls and putting in the big hours even into the dark of morning chasing prawns. You can hunt for prawns in the shallows on foot or anchor up your boat closer to Lakes Entrance.
Nearly everyone is getting at least a couple of kilograms each night. Make sure you plan your trips around the new moon, as the darker the night the more you will see.
Another feature right now is the incredible number of pinkies. Most are barely 25cm but boy, are they thick! Every so often I find a school with bigger sizes of 28-32cm models. They make a nice change to the menu at my household.
The little snapper have no trouble eating small wriggle-tail plastics and any blade dropped down to them. I watched my mate Mark Ramsay pull them in on his homemade crab lures, which certainly raised my eyebrow as they were all the biggest fish landed for the day.
The best places to look for pinkies, prawns and the odd flounder over the next month will be anywhere from Kalimna to Metung and right up towards the mouth of the Tambo River.
I have also seen big numbers of garfish while prawning at night and, with a load of berley, I'm sure those of you interested could bag a big score.
Don’t be put off by the murky water at Hollands Landing because I'm hearing the odd flathead and bream are taking bait at the moment. It's still a few months away from cleaning up for any sort of lure fishing but further down into Lake Victoria is a different situation.
The water is cleaner the further you head east and plenty of small flathead are in the shallows and a lot of nice bream cruising the sand flats as well. A small soft plastic will sort out both species and the prime areas right now are from Wattle Point and Loch Sport down to Raymond Island. The best time to work that area is when you get a little chop on the water and the fish are less spooky. During the middle of the day, search in much deeper water as the fish retreat to safety and often you find bigger flathead around 50cm hiding there as well.
Sight fishing for bream when the weather permits is very exciting at the moment and suspending hardbodies or bent minnows are your best options. I'm now starting to hook a lot more bream with my favourite surface lures but it's fair to say I also have to search far and wide for this action. So far I'm only tricking a handful of bream at first light on surface but I can just tell it’s only weeks away now, when the bream will really start to rise up smack surface lures all day long. If it's only half as good as the action we had last year then we are all in for a real treat. Stay tuned because as soon as the bream start smashing bent minnows, I will let you know.
No doubt a few lure anglers will be out trying their own surface techniques and they will be searching the lower Nicholson and Mitchell rivers, right along the Silt Jetties, Bancroft Bay and the upper Tambo and Mitchell rivers, which can also fire early with a surprise perch boofing down lures.
Finally, quite a few whiting are also turning up in their usual haunts but the word is they are not very big. Land-based anglers are scoring plenty of them up in the Cunningham Arm and the Hopetoun Channel proving hit and miss for those boating. It seems this year is another very quiet whiting season and those in the know believe the lack of seagrass in the estuary is to blame.Reads: 331