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Big bream on bents
  |  First Published: May 2015



I promised to let you know when the bream surface fishing started to fire up. Well, it has begun in a big way and it’s all about the bent minnows.

Bait anglers are also having a ball right across the lake or river systems and I’ve got plenty of news about angling with live shrimp. In fact the fishing is about as hot as ever and even the flathead are firing up.

The hot spots

First of all, let me give you a rundown of where the bream are being caught. The Mitchell River from Bairnsdale right down to the end of the Silt Jetties is probably the busiest area at the moment, although the bottom section of the Nicholson River is also firing for boat anglers and the upper sections for those throwing surface lures to cruising bream.

Out along the Mitchell Flats in Lake King is holding some very big bream for lure anglers casting hardbodies around the rock groins. The bream are especially hungry when the wind picks up in this open lake area and they will bite hard when waves roll into the shallows. Even ugly days when the wind barrels in at 30km/h or more can see big numbers of fish find the landing net.

Metung is as usual full of pinkies, flathead to 45cm, a few bream around 40cm and even the odd King George whiting caught on blades.

The lower Tambo as usual fires early morning out around the snags and the upper reaches from the highway to the Blue Hole is excellent for land-based bream sport.

Hollands Landing and Seacombe are starting to fish a lot better but are hit and miss at the moment and the only dud report comes from Toms Creek, which has been very disappointing this year so far.

Don't shirk the shrimp

I can tell you live shrimp has been the stand out bait at the moment and I watched land-based anglers on several occasions on the Mitchell River and down at Hollands Landing, have almost nonstop action.

This got the better of me so I spent a while with Warren Bertram, who is the land-based bait fishing guru in this area I'm sure. He showed me how he targets bream on live shrimp and I was astounded with his results. He wouldn’t tell me where he gets his shrimp from because they were like small prawns but at least the swampy bugger showed me a few other tricks. He uses an aerator in a bucket of water to keep the shrimp alive and kicking hard.

With a very light running sinker rig he feeds one huge shrimp onto a long shank hook and then proceeds to catch the hell out of big bream! That day he lost count of how many bream he actually landed or lost to the snags but he measured heaps of them to 42cm. He told me little shrimp are nearly as good but you have to feed up to 4 of them onto a hook for the best results. Live shrimp can be purchased from a few shops so ring around or collect them with fine mesh nets dipped around weed beds or up against rock walls and jetty pylons. Soaking bunches of tea tree in the water also attracts a lot shrimp.

Bent up

The surface action for bream is now reaching its peak and by the end of this month it will probably taper right off as the bream school up in deep water. I’m scoring modest tallies of about a dozen bream on the Hurricane Bent Minnows when I use them. On the better days I'm scoring around 20 bream but the action has not quite measured up to last years surface bite.

As usual I miss a lot of hits because obviously bream have a small mouth trying to eat a big lure but I’ve also had very large bream attack my bent minnow and they have no trouble at all sucking it down! I'm still shocked at how so many anglers have yet to try surface fishing for bream in the Gippy Lakes and even hard core lure anglers give me blank looks when I ask them how many they have caught with bent minnows. In a way maybe that’s a good thing for me – it will take longer for the wily bream to wake up to surface lures!

Seriously though, it may be hard to believe, but there are days when I get more bream from topwater luring than fishing deeper with plastics or hardbodies.

Blade time

For the last 6 weeks the bream have slowly but surely started attacking more metal blades in the deeper water. I fished at Hollands Landing with Michael Newman from Ballan recently and we threw fast sinking hardbodies at first and dragged a few from the snags before getting shredded by big fish. We then swapped over to blades and Michael continued to throw the heavy lures into the timber and amazingly wrestled out some cracker bream! And yes he snagged up quite a lot but his black blade was doing the trick.

I was too scared to piff my metal lures anywhere near the barnacled snags, so I fished out much wider, well away from structure. By noon we had landed over 20 bream to 40cm between us and that for me is a fairly good result because the Straits can be the hardest place to lure for bream.

Duskies

The flathead are starting to be caught in bigger numbers now and while blading or fishing deep plastics some anglers are scoring up to 50 duskies a session. A lot of them around 30cm but more fish closer to 50cm are showing up now. The flathead have already moved well into the rivers and a lot have been caught right up at the mouth of the Latrobe. Expect the Tambo and Mitchell to hold better numbers over the coming weeks.

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