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Feeling dusky in the New Year
  |  First Published: February 2016



Hot weather plus shallow water equal dusky flathead and whiting. So I’ve got plenty of news about those two species but it’s also prime time to discover hungry bream working in skinny lake water. This is the best time of year to enjoy and explore the vast sand flats and shallow habitats of the Gippy Lakes. The run of prawns has also been fantastic and I’ve got a lot of angler feedback and news to share.

King George whiting

First of all – the phenomenal run of whiting this summer. Anywhere from Lakes Entrance right up to Metung has seen the KG whiting turning up in numbers not seen in many years. There’s plenty of talk about fish to 38cm and quite a few whiting are turning up between 40-43cm. The Hopetoun Channel is the go-to area along with the northern side of Flannagan Island. In years gone by, I’ve also found Bancroft Bay an area where the whiting turn up in good numbers and I’ve even caught them on blade lures there while chasing bream and flatties. The best bait by far are pipis and the gun whiting anglers tell me they sit them in the sun for a while before they go on the hook, so the meat toughens up and is not pecked off so easily by pesky toadies or little baby snapper. I’m predicting the whiting will bite hard right through until March or even the end of April.

I’ve also heard about a few lure anglers chasing these fish with bent minnow surface lures in the shallows.

Dusky Flathead

Reports at this the time of year are usually dominated by flathead captures, and the start of 2016 is proving no different. I’m certain that the new size slot limits on dusky flathead introduced a few years ago is resulting in anglers doing battle with big trophy fish between 75-90cm. Over the last few weeks I’ve received modest reports from anglers finding all sizes of flathead between 30-70cm. The encouraging thing is that most people who go out and target them specifically, tend to find a nice tally of flathead with every trip. In other words, they are hanging out in their usual haunts, and for those of you who don’t have favourite flatty hotspots, I’m sure you will find them. I have found first light the best time to chase big duskies. They are keen to grab nearly any moving target at this time of day and the mornings at this time of year are usually very calm with no wind and flat water.

As usual for summer, the easterly wind starts to barrel in at about lunchtime, and on some days there’s little change out of 40km per hour. It makes fishing very uncomfortable and restricts you from accessing a lot of good areas. So hit the water early and be off the water by noon to beat the heat. The hotspots for flathead at the moment are Cunningham Arm, Reeve Channel, the North Arm, Bancroft Bay and Nungurner. Southern blue-spot flathead have also been caught down near Kalimna and Lakes Entrance.

Prawns

Another development over the last month or so has been the big number of good-sized prawns. Back in early December I got word that the prawns had moved in early, with quite a few anglers bringing home a 2kg bag after each trip. Well, the prawns are a lot bigger now and the numbers have soared. Reports tell me it’s an exceptional run this year and that they are doing all their prawning on foot by simply wading the shallows. One mate has even ignored the golden rule of only going out on the darkest nights and has netted plenty of prawns under the bright full moon. Every summer I make a few trips out at night and bring home a feed of prawns and flounder. It’s a ritual and tradition that entertains kids of all ages.

Bream

The highlight for some keen bream anglers during February and March is to track down some big yellowfins. Their numbers are on the rise each and every year now and the best place to start looking is around Kalimna and the jetties at Lakes Entrance. The best part however, is that these fish are also getting a lot bigger and I’ve recently landed yellowfin bream to 45cm. A popular technique at the moment is to chase bream with surface lures. The best lure by far is a Hurricane Bent Minnow called a Switch 66. Lots of anglers agree with me and say their favourite colour by far is the viper model with the cobra and lethal prawn colours close behind. I’ve hooked good numbers of black bream over the last few weeks on the Switch 66 and this is a very exciting and addictive method for tricking those wily bream.

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