Summer has never really been recognised as the best time to target bream in the Gippy Lakes, however the lure fishing for this species during the hot months has taken off over the last few years.
It’s probably partly a result of increased angler effort with soft plastics in the holiday season. This year has been no different with plenty of bream caught on both soft and hard lures. Flathead catches are now starting to peak while the whiting are also heavily targeted.
It’s with a sad note that I report the ugly side of fishing this month. It has been well documented in many forms of print media over the last few months that some anglers have an appalling disregard for size and bag limits here in the Gippy Lakes. Worse still, some of the guys caught live here in my own town and I see them regularly on the water.
I talked to fisheries officer Eric Wiseman from Traralgon about a very serious offence. He said two Melbourne men were checked earlier in the day and were basically given a warning about keeping small fish. They were then advised and shown how to carefully measure their catch. They totally ignored the advice and by day’s end had grossly exceeded the bag limit with over 50 undersized bream in their possession. Giving a false name and address did not help their cause. Eric said the message is loud and clear: at some stage you will be checked, and don’t be surprised if it’s more than once in a day. I fully commend the work Eric and his colleagues are doing to try and stamp out this feral minority.
On a brighter note, some large bream to about 1.3kg have been caught and released by a few hard-core lure anglers recently. The large fish are still around in fair numbers, but only a few are being tricked with most bream ignoring the lures and even worse, following them right back to the boat! Some of the more popular Berkley plastics have been tossed around so much recently that I think the bream are sick of seeing them. Put them away for a few trips, then tie on something totally different and the results might surprise you. The Mitchell River and the ever consistent Tambo River are the ‘must fish’ streams when chasing bream, but remember to vary your tactics and try both shallow sand flats and deep drop offs during any given session.
Best baits working at the moment have been crab and shrimp, with frozen prawn a good back up. Sandworm is still hard to get, and when you do find a box or two the quality has been poor.
It’s fair to say that the Gippsland Lakes are now well and truly recognised as a top dusky flathead fishery and these fish are providing the bulk of the sport on offer lately. Although most of the fish are around the 40cm mark, some flatties have been caught to 70 or even 80cm. One of the hotspots of recent times has been in Newlands Arm near Paynesville. The trick is to fish the edges of weed beds and try very shallow sand banks as well.
The rivers are holding duskies as well, but concentrate your efforts in the lower reaches of each stream. In the next few months the flatties will start pushing right upstream. Don’t forget about the five fish bag limit, and keep an eye out for my tagged ones to.
At times the gars in this area are the forgotten bread butter species. There are a few people dedicated to chasing them, but by and large only a handful of anglers get to really enjoy these fun-to-catch fish. I’ve even had a couple of whopper garfish take my lures recently and I’ve watched large schools of them swimming close to the surface, in the Mitchell and Tambo rivers. Another area to try is at Wattle Point where big bags of gars are often taken, and small hooks with little baits under a float are the go.
Down at Paynesville and Metung, whiting have been caught from the various jetties. One chap recently landed 14 good-sized whiting from the Paynesville jetty. This is a great spot to fish over summer, as Raymond Island provides much needed shelter from the afternoon easterlies. Flathead have been a regular catch from the area as well, with soft plastics working best. A couple I work with, Sam and Wilma, assure me that the deadliest bait for whiting is fresh mussel slowly moved along the bottom.
Sam also suggested sitting mussel baits in the sun for a while to toughen them up, and therefore last longer on the hook.Reads: 1974