The fishiest time of year is autumn and right now the season looks spot on for anglers. Day after day of calm, cool weather and hungry fish. The algae blooms have stayed away again this year and clean salt water is pushing into the estuary and is already well into Lake Wellington. This all adds up to really exciting times ahead for lure fishing and bait anglers.
Bait anglers are having a ball right now at hotspots such as Paynesville, the lower Tambo and Mitchell rivers, Hollands Landing and the mouth of the Latrobe River. Frozen prawn and sandworm are the most commonly used baits, but live crab is something else! I was taught a lesson recently while lure fishing next to Rod Shutsbree on Lake Victoria. I landed a great run of bream to 41cm on black blades and was quite proud of my effort until I bumped into Rod. He was anchored up at The Point and had two rods out the back of the boat with large spider crabs tethered out in about 4ft of water. As we chatted, one rod buckled towards the drink and a fat 42cm truck bream found its way into the net. Seconds later his other rod loaded up and after a very serious work out, a bigger 45cm bream joined the smaller fish. During the tussle I got the camera ready – I wasn’t leaving Rod until I got some pictures. I fished around him and over the next hour or so he managed nine huge bream to my single one. His message to me was quite clear – you never get little bream on live crab.
I’ve been known to get a little over excited when I’m hooking a lot of bream, but I have to say the lure fishing right now has been extraordinary. Bryan Lazzaro and I decided to try the Mitchell River recently and after a slow start with ten small fish each we stumbled upon a real jackpot. Between 10am-4pm we hooked bream with just about every second cast. At times we got a hit with every lift of the rod. It was an insane session! A ZMan grub in amber colour on a fairly heavy 2-3g jighead was the best lure set-up. We counted every single fish landed and decided to try and lift in 100 bream before we left. We got to that amazing target at about 3pm and after an excited high five I suggested we change lures and play around a bit. We tried blades for about 15 minutes and found nothing! Not even a bump. We tried hardbody Kaplunks for a while and got a few, but before long we got back to the proven soft plastic method. We caught exactly 114 bream and only went home because a windy cold front moved in. The other amazing thing was that nearly every bream for the day was 35-39cm in size. Two days later Jason Deenan, who traveled all the way from Leongatha went for a look and landed an amazing 78 bream for his efforts. Local angler Paul Janowick had his turn and apparently lost count of his catch! Peter Nord and I had another look a few days later, sadly the fish had moved on and we scratched up just a handful of small fish each. Typical bream!
The recent Gippy Lakes ABT event was another great success, and once again I pay homage to Brad Hodges who is developing into some sort of ‘rockstar idol’ in the bream-angling world. Sorry mate, being such a humble bloke I suppose that label may not sit easy with you! To keep winning these comps is just such an incredible achievement – it’s tough to even make the top ten these days. The pressure can mess with your confidence and I take my hat off to how successful competition anglers always find fish. During Day 2 of the competition, I was at Hollands Landing and fished alongside three competitors. Mario Vukic moved around constantly and used all his tricks to pull in five bream to finish 10th. I talked to Steve Gill for an hour or so as he tried to fill his second day quota. I watched him pull in an amazing 5kg bag during that time and travelling up from NSW, he hardly knows the place! Steve ended up running an impressive 3rd place. His non-boater Mick Thompson lifted in two nice bream at the same time. I then caught up with Shaun Clancy who was top of the leader board after Day 1. His second day was heading in the opposite direction as he struggled to find any fish using a hardbody along the edge. This struggle epitomises the extreme pressure of competition fishing. He ended up 17th with just one squeaker bream on Day 2. His non-boater Jesse Rotin was having much better luck using a Sting 37 black blade out in the deep and I saw him horse in a cracker 1kg bream. He weighed in four fish that day and finished a brilliant 3rd in the non-boater section. Watching all of these competition anglers was a great insight into tournament fishing and for the record, my bag of five bream for that session would have disappointed the weigh master!Reads: 322