Mayhem on the mighty Mitchell
  |  First Published: October 2016

“Some of the hottest bream fishing in years” and “I haven’t seen the fish this thick for a long time” are just some of the comments that have been all the talk over recent weeks centred around the Mitchell River.

Although things have quietened down a little, I expect the excellent bream fishing to continue for at least another month before the spawning season kicks into gear. I’ve got plenty to report on!

The mighty Mitchell river

This magnificent waterway is the real life blood of the Gippy Lakes and come to think of it, the king of all East Gippsland rivers! The Mitchell is the largest un-regulated river in the state and over its 121km is free of dams and its natural flow is unchanged.

It has 13 other significant rivers and creeks that feed it and nearly the entire catchment flows down from steep mountains of native bush. I’m trying to paint you a picture of why this river is such a fishing hotspot. After the last floods the river ran dirty for a few weeks and then almost overnight, it cleaned up with crystal clean water. I swear to you, I could see a metre into its gin clear fresh flow, which is just an incredible sight after such a big flood event.

Best bream fishing for years

The wires are running hot at the moment with happy anglers sending pictures and stories to all their mates. I’ll try to condense a few of the best reports from the endless text messages and emails still flooding in.

I saw even more excitement while talking to anglers on the bank or in boats. In a nutshell, the bream moved into the silt jetties about six weeks ago, and congregated into the biggest schools we’ve seen in a long time. Even better, most of them were mid to high 30cm fish.

A lot of 40-45cm fish were also being hooked and some of them lost. At one stage, we sounded up a massive school that stretched for about 800m, jam-packed along the bottom across half of the river’s width! I’d hate to guess the actual number of fish, but I think you get the idea. Strangely, anywhere down or upstream from this huge mob of bream was absolutely barren of fish, except maybe a few smaller ones here and there! I expect the bream to now spread out and head up into the river with breeding not far away.

Shrimp and nippers all the go

Over the last month, bait anglers have lined the silt jetty banks for weeks on end and most of them bagged out. The stand out bait was and still is shrimp, and it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s fresh or frozen. Anglers using shrimp quickly ran out of bait, while those putting on worm or frozen prawn found the going much slower.

Two anglers who live in the Welshpool area showed me a big bucket of nippers they had pumped from South Gippsland the day before heading to the Mitchell. Their rods were constantly bent and loaded up on the best bream I saw landed by any of the bait anglers there. This was a real eye opener, and it pays to sometimes experiment with different baits.

For the majority of bank anglers, most of the time the fishing was hit and miss during the day with a few good bream coming in here and there, but when afternoon arrived, the ‘go switch’ was turned to flat out. At about 4pm each day, every angler who stayed and put in a few extra hours was rewarded with a super hot bite, right up until dark.

Meanwhile at Paynesville on the jetties in town, Rhonda and Graeme Beams, who live in Sale, sat on the jetties for a few hours and pulled in over a dozen good bream to 36cm while using frozen shrimp. A few mullet were finding the hook as well.

Lure sport

As I predicted, the bream are finally responding to blade lures now, and a few dedicated anglers are pulling in some cracker fish to 45cm. Michael Dee was the first to find them and quickly shared the news to his immediate mates. In two sessions, he landed 32 and 44 bream each day, all on blades. Most of his fish were around 35cm.

Jason Deenan, Greg Jerkins and I spent an afternoon dropping Hurricane Sting 37 blades in cracked black colour down to the massive schools of fish. As usual, it was only late in the day when the bream fired up and we were eventually rewarded with just over 40 impressive bream between us. I don’t think any of us landed fish under 32cm and quite a few close to 40cm.

Justin Dingwall is the local guru when it comes to hooking truck bream around here. He heard about the huge run of Mitchell fish and decided to get in on the action. His first bream came in at 1.6kg, and he broke all trends by hooking them all in the morning and ended up with about 40 bream before lunch. He also shunned the blades and used hardbody vibes and soft plastic lures.

Cam Cleal has also posted pictures of even bigger bream, but I don’t want to give him too much of a mention. He has a nasty habit of finding all the big girls and leaving the little ones for me!

Just before I go, Michael Dee gets the last word, and has just contacted me with another 46cm bream landed, once again on black blades, but this time all were caught out in the salty lake water where the Mitchell flows into. I’ve run out of room, so more on this next issue! There’s exciting times for bream anglers ahead, that’s for sure!

Happy fishing!

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