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South East Fishing Calendar
  |  First Published: December 2006



Each year I draw up a fishing wish list of what I would like to achieve during the coming year. As life becomes more crowded I’m increasingly finding that my fishing trips need to be planned well in advance. What’s more, the timing of those trips need to be carefully matched with the best times of year to fish for certain species.

This fishing calendar for southeast Victoria will hopefully provide anglers with some ideas for their 2007 fishing schedule for 2007. To help decide which months were best for which species I enlisted the help of other VFM contributors in the area. I deliberately coerced them into giving up a range of species so that we ended up with a different species each month. You could easily fill in an entire year with snapper, whiting and salmon - but I wanted more variety than that. So go on – make yourself some New Year’s fishing resolutions!

JANUARY

Species: Eastern king prawns.

When: September to May; peak in summer.

Where: Lakes Entrance, Marlo, Tamboon, Bemm River, Mallacoota.

Technique: I know they’re not really fish, but a feed of these tasty crustaceans will go well with new year BBQs! A drag net can be used in some waters (check regulations first) but it’s more fun to catch them at night with a dip net and an underwater light. Wade along in the estuary shallows (knee deep is fine) until you spot them in the beam. If prawns are on the bottom, remember they almost always flick sideways. It’s much easier to catch prawns if they are swimming up off the bottom. Power your light using a sealed beam 12-volt, 7-amp battery: they won’t leak, are rechargeable and are almost indestructible.

Correspondent: Martin Auldist.

FEBRUARY

Species: King George whiting.

When: December to February; peak in February.

Where: Western Port Bay, Venus Bay, Shallow Inlet, Port Welshpool, and Port Albert.

Technique: Almost all of these great tablefish are caught on baits, with the best being pipis, squid and bass yabbies. Present baits using a paternoster rig with short droppers, size 6 long-shanked hooks and just enough lead to keep bottom. Alternatively, a running sinker rig can help to keep things simple which is handy when the fish really start to bite. In most locations the best strategy seems to be to fish in the shallow side channels during the last two hours of the run-out tide. Move often until you find the fish.

Correspondent: John Dalla-Rosa.

MARCH

Species: Elephantfish

When: Late summer and autumn; peak in March.

Where: Western Port Bay. Beginners could try anywhere in the ‘Elephant Triangle’ which is the area enclosed within an imaginary line between Corinella, Tortoise Head, Newhaven and back to Corinella.

Technique: They’re not everyone’s cup of tea but elephantfish are a Victorian angling experience. These unique creatures are easy to catch, pull hard and are great on the table. Fish with a running sinker rig (using an ezy-clip) makes it easy to adjust the lead to suit the current. Size 3/0 hooks baited with pilchard pieces are as good as anything.

Correspondent: Martin Auldist.

APRIL

Species: Brown and rainbow trout.

When: The river trout season runs from the first weekend in September until the Queen’s Birthday weekend in June. In many areas the fishing is probably best in late spring and early summer – but I’ve squeezed trout in here as late season trout fishing can be very productive.

Where: For Melbourne-based anglers, a quick trip to the Toorongo, Loch or Latrobe Rivers is probably most convenient. For those with more time, the renowned trout streams of Central and West Gippsland are definitely worth a look.

Baits: Bait fishing for trout has a healthy following, and earthworms or grasshoppers are both good bets. Try fishing them unweighted, casting them upstream and letting them drift back in a natural fashion.

Lures and flies: Small black Celta spinners are good early in the season, especially if the water is dirty. Bibbed lures like Rapalas (especially in trout colours) work well too. If flyfishing, weighted nymphs are useful for getting down into the deep water that is often encountered early in the season.

Correspondent: Martin Auldist.

MAY

Species: Dusky flathead.

When: Best months are from April to July.

Where: Tambo River (near Johnsonville boat ramp and upstream for 2km). Other rivers flowing into the Gippsland Lakes system, such as the Mitchell and Nicholson, are also worth a try. At this time of the year look well upstream.

Lures: 3” white soft plastics (any shape/make/form!) and 3/4oz jig heads. From a boat or canoe, work the bottom quickly but thoroughly, spraying cast all over the river.

Baits: Before soft plastics hit the scene, big duskies were primarily targeted with live poddy mullet. Blue bait, prawns, pipis and sandworms account for their fair share too. Dragging baits along the bottom behind a drifting boat is particularly effective.

Correspondent: Brett Geddes.

JUNE

Species: Bream.

When: All year round but they fish well in winter; peak month is March at Bemm River.

Where: Bemm River, where at this time of year bream should be targeted in the lake as opposed to the river. Alternative bream destinations in East Gippsland include Marlo, Tamboon, Wingan Inlet and Mallacoota.

Baits: Sandworm are usually easily gathered at Bemm River and are a sure-fire bait for Bemm River bream. Peeled prawn makes a deadly bream bait. When there is little current in the lake use two anchors to keep your boat perfectly still and fish you baits using a running sinker rig and a size 1 suicide hook.

Lures: Like everywhere, Bemm River bream take a wide range of hard and soft lures fished slowly and with great finesse.

Correspondent: Mark Cunningham.

JULY

Species: Gummy shark.

When: Gummies are more abundant during winter. The majority are female and full of pups, they are bigger in size but breeders need to be released. During summer you tend to catch more males, and they are marginally smaller.

Where: Western Port Bay.

Technique: Gummy sharks feed along the sea floor. These scavenger fish also hunt crabs in the shallows and on the mud flats of Western Port during a high tide. To target them use a running sinker heavy enough to keep bottom. A two-hook rig containing a 5/0 circle hook and 4/0 suicide will be suitable.

Baits: Cured eel, pilchards, strips of fresh fish and squid. If you’re fishing a run-out tide drop your baits where the channel bank meets the bottom of the channel. If your fishing a run-in tide flick you baits higher on the channel banks.

Correspondent: Jarrod Day.

AUGUST

Species: Australian salmon.

When: Winter.

Where: Surf beaches all along the coast between Western Port and Mallacoota.

Baits: Pipis, bluebait and pilchard fillets are ideal baits for salmon in the surf. Fish them on a two hook (size 2/0) paternoster rig with a star sinker on the bottom. Cast your baits into gutters that have clean green water going all the way back beyond the breakers.

Lures: Putting a surf popper or soft plastic on one of the hooks of the paternoster rig in place of bait can be very effective and is one way to beat the crabs if they are a problem. Wandering along the beach casting metal slices into the surf is also a great way to fish for salmon.

Correspondent: John Dalla-Rosa.

SEPTEMBER

Species: Luderick.

When: As the water warms up from September onwards.

Where: East Gippsland estuaries including Marlo and Bemm River.

Technique: The carnivorous luderick of East Gippsland estuaries provide Victorian anglers with an excellent opportunity to target these hard fighting fish without the need for all the specialised equipment that is used further north. Fish for luderick in much the same way as you would fish for bream but downsize the hook to size 2 (luderick have very small mouths). Use a running sinker rig with only as much lead weight as necessary. The premier bait to these estuary luderick is sandworm. Be prepared for an earnest struggle when the fish sees the boat.

Correspondent: Jim McClymont.

OCTOBER

Species: Squid.

When: September to December.

Where: Western Port Bay.

Technique: Squid can be actively targeted by anglers in boats, drifting over weed beds while working squid jigs. Squid can also be caught on squid spikes baited with pilchard or silver whiting and suspended just above the bottom below a good-sized float. Too much tidal flow will limit the effectiveness of this technique. It can be employed from a drifting boat, or anglers can have jigs set for squid while they fish for other species. Once a squid grabs the jig, be sure to bring it to the boat slowly – many squid are ripped off the jigs by beginners retrieving them too quickly.

Correspondent: John Dalla-Rosa.

NOVEMBER

Species: Snapper.

When: From September until late summer; November is a peak month, particularly around the new and full moon.

Where: Port Albert (inside), also Western Port Bay.

Baits: Squid, silver whiting, pilchards, sauries, strips of salmon, trevally or slimey mackerel. Often bigger baits will attract larger snapper.

Technique: Fish baits from an anchored boat using a running sinker rig with just enough lead to hold bottom. Baits should be secured on a two hook rig, with one 5/0 suicide sliding and another tied to the terminal end. Alternatively snooding the upper hook may help a more natural presentation. Reels can be fished in strike drag or baitrunners can be used if fish are picky.

Correspondent: Wes Brew.

DECEMBER

Species: Estuary perch.

When: Year round; peak time is summer.

Where: Most estuaries between Western Port and Mallacoota. The Gippsland Lakes, Marlo, Bemm River and Genoa River are hot spots.

Lures: EP are one of our most aggressive lure-taking sports fish. Brightly coloured 9cm bibbed lures are the go, and larger soft plastics work a treat, with D.O.A. prawns a favourite with die hard perch anglers. Target the biggest and best snags you can find, and be sure to beef up your line class, with 5kg breaking strain a minimum.

Baits: If baitfishing for perch, you can’t go past a live prawn flicked out near a snag and allowed to drift down into the depths. Hook prawns under the their horn as perch take them head first.

Correspondent: Brett Geddes.

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