The Gippy Lakes are alive and well with an incredible run of mullet over the last month or so. The rivers are in perfect order after heavy snow dumps during winter and the early runoff from the mountains has cleaned up the Mitchell and Tambo nicely. I expect all the rivers to fish exceptionally well over the coming months so stay tuned. Surprisingly, a number of bream are now showing up quite early for the season in the shallow lake edges around Raymond Island, Duck Arm, and down at Metung. But the focus for this issue is on the good old yellow eyes.
First up I've got to tell you about the phenomenal run of yellow eye mullet right across the Gippy Lakes. Over the last few months they have turned up in numbers I've not seen in many years. Maybe the fish are there all year round and only bite at certain times of the year, but right now, anyone who targets mullet with sandworm from Metung right through to Hollands Landing is scoring their bag limit in no time. I heard from bait anglers that the first few schools had started to bite and I couldn’t wait to get amongst it. A large concentration of mullet presented around Paynesville so I travelled there recently, determined to get them on lures. In just a few casts I found them stacked up thick around the jetties and hooked them on 2inch Zman grubs in amber colour. It's fair to say that this plastic represents a worm rather well so I decided to change things up a little and see if I could get them on blades with red stinger hooks. Well they worked even better and I pulled in a big chubby mullet to 36cm with nearly every cast. I filled my keeper net with twenty fish and then went in search for bream. No such luck however because the mullet continued to eat my lures everywhere I threw them.
Here was a truly remarkable congregation of mullet, my sounder showed ridiculous and almost endless schools of fish. I watched jetty anglers lifting in fish for hours with young and old all having fun. For those of you who dismiss mullet as fairly average table fare, well I beg to differ. I rate them in my top five fish and I've convinced nearly everyone of their deliciousness when I presented them with fresh or deep fried mullet in a delicious thin crispy batter. When cooked this way, the moisture is kept in the fillets and makes for a scrumptious treat! Hopefully the mullet will stay on the chew for a while. For some strange reason they only take lures at this time of year but I'll use bait if I have to!
Paul Worsteling was in the area while I was fishing to film a show with a target species of the humble yellow eye mullet. He caught countless numbers of fish with the locals, showing them how to berley for them and use different rigs. Paul filleted the mullet and then cooked a few for the locals right there on the spot. As mentioned, people are nearly shocked at how mouth-watering they are. Great effort by Paul to show us how grass roots angling can be so much fun in what was one of his self-described favourite IFISH episode.
The Mitchell River looks to be in fantastic condition with a nice flow of clean water that I find awfully hard to drive past each time I cross the highway bridge. With the volume of clean water coming down the system you can count on aggressive estuary perch attacking soft plastics around the bridge pylons or further upstream in the snags. Already I'm hearing the perch are taking soft plastics like Gulp worms and two inch grubs.
Spring is when the estuary perch start to fire and going on last year's experience and the emergence of big schools of perch at this time, the season is set to be an exciting one. Even better, most of the perch last year were up to 34 - 42cm. Reports of bream from around The Cut are trickling in and a few bigger fish up around the Bairnsdale bridges as well. The mullet are also milling around the lower section of the silt jetties and surprisingly quite a few trevally are taking worm baits and soft plastics as well.
For those who really enjoy a lure challenge on the bream then head to the Nicho and do battle with them in the snags up river or on the rocky edges downstream. As always they are quite cranky and often will only take hard bodies twitched with long pauses or soft plastic grubs on the drop. There is much searching involved and plenty of pain with lures smashed off and shredded leaders. If you can wrangle in four or five bream for a session then it's all worth it because I'll bet most of them will be either side of 40cm. Right now big bream to 43cm are still in the river but be prepared to do some hard yards for your reward.Reads: 730