Autumn has got to be the best time of year to pick up a fishing rod. The stable weather conditions make April and May a joy to be on the water and if it were not for the threat of signing divorce papers, I’d be on the water every day! The bream have been a little tough recently but will fire up soon, and the Gippsland Lakes are again proving to be the dusky flathead capital of Victoria. The big highlight recently however, has been the huge run of prawns.
What a season it’s been on the flatties already, with heaps of big duskies up to 80cm landed recently. In fact I hear even bigger fish over 90cm are turning up too. The average size is a very respectable 40cm, and with a possession limit of five fish you are going to get a good feed.
The real hotspot was Lakes Entrance for quite a while, but over the last few weeks a lot of flathead have pushed further into the lakes system. Metung and the mouth of the Mitchell are now producing a lot of medium-sized fish (around 40cm). Plenty of anglers have been bust off by huge flathead while targeting whiting on light gear. You really need to fish with line of about 8kg breaking strain if you want to land these big crocs. Soft plastics are again a stand out method, but a small live mullet is also effective.
Before you fish for duskies, it pays to do some homework first. Flathead are extremely mobile from day to day, and one of my tagged flathead was recaptured a kilometre from its release area after just 24 hours. Look for the fish over the shallow sand banks – the bigger flatties can often be seen in just 30cm of water. If you fail to spook many, it means they are holding in the deeper parts of the lake.
Try fishing in about 3m of water with heavier jigheads if you’re using plastics. Move around a lot and try to cover plenty of water, but when you find a few anchor up and target the area thoroughly. It’s a little known fact that flathead often school up.
It will be interesting to see if the flatties head up the rivers this year as they have done previously. If so, expect to find big numbers pushing well upstream in the Nicholson and Tambo rivers right through until late winter.
Be mindful that the days of killing big flathead just to show others are well and truly over. The large breeding females are not good to eat anyway. Digital cameras are so cheap these days and a good quality picture looks so much better than an ugly wall mount.
Most people, locals and visitors alike, are saying it’s been one of the best prawn seasons ever. At one stage I heard reports of huge prawns that were going twelve to the kilogram! That puts them at about 85g each and at that size you certainly wouldn’t need many for a feed. We had a family holiday down at Lakes Entrance recently, and at 2am on the Saturday, there were 120 boats still out prawning! Most were getting about 10-15kg per boat. Even the people walking the shallows with a dip net were getting a good feed.
I am just starting to see a few bream taking my lures. It has been tough watching the bream totally snub my soft plastics and hard bodies over the last month or so. They have been very cranky and stubborn and even the bait boys are telling me the bream are tough at the moment. It makes it all the more frustrating when you can actually see the fish totally ignoring anything thrown at them.
In one 5-hour session recently, I reckon I cast to well over 100 bream and considered myself lucky to have at least tricked two of them. They measured 41cm and 42cm and were both released. Nice fish alright, but I saw plenty of bigger models that were not the slightest bit interested in feeding. As an interesting by-catch I caught four flathead from 55-70cm.
The Tambo is still the number one spot to target big bream and I am continually amazed at just how many huge bream call this river home. Chris Wright recently fished a bream competition over at Nelson in the Glenelg River. He found the going pretty tough over there and landed a few little fish. On his way home to New South Wales he thought he’d drop in on the Tambo for a quick look. Within an hour he had a livewell with five fish in it, all around 1.3kg! That sort of catch would win most competitions held anywhere in the country.
Finally, I’m getting more news on the state of the rivers feeding the Gippy Lakes. The recent heavy rain within the catchment has seen some of the rivers turn very dirty with ash and sediment. This is what all of us were dreading after the recent drought and bushfires. The Mitchell River is now running so filthy that it may not even be worth fishing. I’ll update you further on the state of all the rivers and lakes in the next issue, when the full impact of the inflowing muddy waters will be known.Reads: 4183