Marlo magic in the kayak
  |  First Published: March 2017

Extensive shallow flats, seemingly endless kilometres of rock wall, abundant snaggy edges, plentiful backwater creeks and lagoons, reedy banks and fast flowing deep water channels combine to make up one of Victoria’s premium estuary fishing locations.

The estuary’s main features include the Snowy River and its entrance to the sea, the Brodribb River, which enters the Snowy just a short distance upstream, and the two shallow lakes, Lake Corringle and Lake Curlip. Located in East Gippsland, Marlo has developed a well-earned reputation as home to some of the state’s biggest and hardest fighting southern black bream. Recreational and tournament anglers alike are drawn to the location in search of giant bream and many go home after experiencing success.


Several launch options are available for kayak anglers at Marlo. The boat ramp located in town is excellent and offers a concrete ramp with adjoining jetty. The ramp also has some car parking suitable for trailers, fish cleaning facilities and toilets.

Kayaks can also launch from the small beach at the angling club just upstream from the main town ramp. These launch options are best for those looking to target fish in the main estuary and Lake Corringle.

Another beach launch option at the eastern end of beach road is excellent for anglers looking to fish the entrance or the area known as French Narrows.

A second boat ramp can be found by following Old Marlo Road north out of town. Located on the Brodribb River, the ramp features an extensive car park, toilet facilities, jetties and picnic tables. The Brodribb ramp is perfect for kayak anglers looking to explore Lake Curlip and the upper reaches of the Brodribb or Snowy rivers.

Target Species

There is no denying that the main draw card for those venturing to Marlo is bream. The estuary has been a long running venue in the Hobie Kayak Bream Series and also hosted the Hobie World Fishing Championships in 2013. In recent years, even the boaters have also cottoned on with Vic Bream Classics running a few rounds and their 2016 grand final at the venue.

Bream are available in the estuary all year round. Other species on offer include dusky flathead, luderick, tailor, silver trevally and the elusive estuary perch. Higher in the system, Australian bass can be found, particularly during their spawning run in winter.

Methods and Techniques

As I mentioned in the variety of fish holding areas available in the estuary is extensive, and there are plenty of ways to catch the bream there, the tricky part is working out which technique will get the bite on any given day.

The extensive shallow flats located towards the entrance in French Narrows are in the two lakes will fish well all year round, however bream are more likely to move into the shallow water during the warmer months when they are actively searching out prey. Shallow diving cranks and jerkbaits slow rolled over the shallow flats can be a dynamite method of landing a solid bream.

Equally, using a similar retrieve with a slim profile paddle-tail plastic such as ZMan Slim SwimZ rigged on a relatively heavy jighead around 1/12oz can be just as deadly on big bream cruising the flats in search of a feed.

The drop offs, channels and deeper water surrounding the flats are always worth a look as well. Again, plastics can be excellent, but my go to lure in these areas is deep diving hardbody lures such as Daiwa Spikes or OSP Dunks. When using this style of lure, I like to use my Power Pole to anchor on the flat and put long casts out into the deeper water and then implement a twitch and pause retrieve, or simply slow roll, keeping the lure in contact with the bottom.

Rock walls are plentiful at Marlo and often hold good numbers of bream. Many of the rock walls also feature submerged timber laydowns that have been put in place by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority. These areas are full of bream and are always worth a look when fishing at Marlo. Along with the techniques mentioned above, flicking lightly-weighted plastic grubs and hoping them back along the rock edges or casting them alongside the laydowns will often result in a hook up.

Twitching bent style minnows along the edges at first light can also provide anglers with an exciting surface strike.

Marlo is a tidal estuary and often has significant flow. As a result, targeting fish in the deeper water of the main channel can be a challenge. Heavy vibes such as Strike Pro Astro Vibes or heavily-weighted plastics are your best chance of getting your lure down deep and keeping it there. When fishing vibes, I like to employ short, sharp lifts followed by long pauses. This technique has accounted for plenty of big bream in the past and is also a great technique to use when the river is running dirty.


Due to the significant tidal flow, kayak anglers are advised to pay attention to tidal movements when launching at Marlo. The flow can become very strong towards the mouth and extra care needs to be taken when fishing this area during the run-out tide. Always remember to wear your PFD and carry a bailer on board at all times as required by Victorian State laws.


Marlo is up there as one of Victoria’s premier kayak angling estuary destinations. Kayaks are the perfect vessel to explore the area, granting access to the systems extensive shallow water flats and tight backwater creeks and lagoons impassable by anything drawing more than a few inches of water. An amazing place to explore and having spent many hours on the water at Marlo, I am still discovering new areas to fish every time I make the journey east.

Photo courtesy of Hobie Fishing Australasia.

Photo courtesy of Hobie Fishing Australasia.

Photo courtesy of Hobie Fishing Australasia.

Photo courtesy of Hobie Fishing Australasia.

Photo courtesy of Hobie Fishing Australasia.

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