Mind-boggling big bream bonanza
  |  First Published: November 2016

In all the years of writing for this magazine starting way back in the first 2004 issue, this report is number 142 on the Gippy Lakes and possibly the most awe-inspiring. I won’t contain my excitement and I’m going to let rip in a big way! I wish I could dream up new words to convey the astounding catch of bream recently for bait and lure anglers – thrilling, breathtaking, rousing, jolting or shocking! To me, these descriptors just don’t cut it. I’ll let the facts do the talking.

Record catch rates

First of all, let me crunch some numbers and tallies from the hotspots, on the Tambo and Mitchell rivers or the Raymond Island and Paynesville areas. Over recent weeks, quite a few lure and mostly bait anglers are sending me reports of releasing 40-80 bream a session. Others tell me they’re losing count after 50 or 70 fish.

On one occasion near Paynesville, I fished blade lures with Mick Dee and between 1.30-5.00pm, we released 108 bream. Some people will scoff or sneer then declare such fishing as total rubbish. In the past I’ve been accused of telling fibs by a minority of feral anglers who I presume jealous, envious or just plain bitter. Well they can suck it up, because here are the facts!

We kept careful count that afternoon – Mick scored 46 bream and I released 62. The next day, Mick took his mate Bryan straight back for more action and he let go another 76 bream. His buddy released 68. Dave Morris was there at the same time and he lost count at about 60 bream. Peter Nord turned up the next day for just over an hour with his son Nick and they got about 30 bream before leaving the hot bite in search of bigger fish.

Justin Dingwal went for another quick morning session and stacked a lazy 42 bream and left them biting. I also went back for more fun and over two days I caught 152 bream, 16 trevally, 3 luderick and two mullet. I kept 2 bream, 4 trevors, 2 mullet and a luderick for the frying pan or sushi. Most of these bream are 30-34cm, but some stretch out to 42cm.

These bigger fish keep us all searching, wading through the smaller ones for hours on end. And that’s the key for such big totals because some of us put in up to eight hours a day. Why go home when the fishing is so hot?

Bait fishing

Some keen bait anglers, including Anthony Havers and his partner Phil Williams, Michael Green, Warren Bertram, Boots McQuillen, and Rhonda and Graeme Beams have all chimed in with similar action by bagging out each trip. Paul Tudor has a caravan at Eagle Point and he told me it was the best Mitchell River bait fishing he’s seen with a lot of bream up to 40cm.

On some weekends we have roughly counted between 70 and 90 anglers lining the banks of the lower Mitchell River or anchored up in boats. It was almost the same scenario on the lower Tambo River as well. It would be absurd to do grand totals on the thousands of bream caught during the last few weeks, but you get the idea. The best part is most of these fish are around 35cm and plenty are over 40cm.

The massive run of bream is such exciting news, and releasing them is so rewarding, but having the option of taking a few home is something we can all celebrate. Over the next month, the three best places to target in this order are: the Tambo River around the boat ramp, the Mitchell River at the Cut or Silt jetties and also the Raymond Island or Paynesville area.

Before I forget, here’s a quick report from the water police. With so many anglers catching huge numbers of fish, it was great to see the authorities out in force. When it was my turn to be checked, I asked the boys about angler compliance and they reported on just a couple of minor offences – great news. We always worry about people abusing bag limits when the bream are biting so freely.

Trevally and perch

It’s not all about the bream. Once again, trevally are starting to show up in much bigger numbers right across the Gippy Lakes. It’s a trend I’ve noticed over the last five years and they’re definitely growing bigger too. I’ve caught a lot of them in Newlands and Duck Arms, Paynesville and the biggest numbers are around the Metung and Kalimna areas. They’re a welcome target for most anglers, providing great hard-fighting sport and yummy fillets for raw sushi.

It’s fair to say the average sized trevor we catch is close to 30cm these days. Once in a while I get my lure smashed by a huge fish and after a sizzling short-lived run and a smoking reel, I’m busted off. I reckon the culprits are much bigger trevally over 50cm.

Estuary perch have also fired up after all the fresh water flows. The Mitchell River is where to find them. Usually we target them upstream from Bairnsdale, but over recent weeks they’ve turned up in deep water out in the middle of the river, caught while chasing bream on blades. They’ve been big perch too, with most of them over 40cm. I find those cagey enigmatic EP breaking all the rules and turning up where you least expect them.


Once again, estuary perch are turning up where you least expect them.


Justin Dingwall pulls in another cracker 45cm horse. He seems to find all the bigger bream and is starting to run out of friends to fish with!

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