Get your soft plastics out again because it’s flathead time, right now. Over the next two months, the Gippsland Lakes dusky flathead make their annual movement up into the rivers. Quite often by chance, flatties are caught by anglers chasing bream. Bait anglers see many frozen prawns and even sandworm taken by duskies. Tailor and garfish are also on the chew at the moment, but the bream have still been very hard to work out.
A big concern at the moment is the water quality in the rivers. A few flash floods from localised storms have impacted severely on certain streams and dead fish have been washed up onto the banks. Sadly, I even discovered nine dead tortoises on the bank of one local river. It seems they may have drowned in the floods and it was sad to see them rotting away amongst the washed-up debris.
The Latrobe, Avon and Mitchell rivers have been the hardest hit so far, but the upper reaches of the Tambo and Nicholson will experience some nutrient run off as well, if and when heavy rains arrive. The resident carp have now moved well downstream in some of these rivers even though water quality doesn’t usually seem to worry them at all.
Traditionally, the Tambo has become the hotspot for duskies at this time of year and the last three winters have not let us down. On some days I’ve returned ‘truckloads’ of flathead when they move into this productive river. They can be found from the mouth of the Tambo right up to the highway bridge. The trick is to move around and fish plenty of water until you find a few. During the last couple of years I’ve tagged over 300 flathead in this river, so keep your eyes peeled for recaptures.
The Nicholson River also has its run of flathead and downstream from the boat ramp is the best area to find them. Another hot spot worth trying is the sand flats at the mouth of all these rivers. Get ready for big bream to turn up as a welcome by-catch. If the Mitchell starts to clear up and some green water pushes back into its lower sections, follow this clear water and fish it hard as I reckon the flatties will be schooling up in that area.
Interestingly I’ve had quite a few tailor turn up while lurefishing for bream recently. They have been noticeably absent over the last three to four years in the Gippy Lakes, but maybe this winter will see a welcome return. The few I have caught measured a healthy 40cm or thereabouts, so some good sport can be expected. The best way to find the schools of tailor is to troll around while watching for feeding and diving birds out in Lake Victoria. If you find the tailor, pull up and throw lures at them and you’re guaranteed of hooking a few.
Again the garfish have been around in huge numbers and if you berley up the water wherever you dangle a line they will eventually show up in numbers. They can be found just about anywhere in the entire system – off jetties, along the riverbanks and out in the lakes. Best bait by far is sandworm or small bits of prawn and even bread squashed on to the hook.
Ahhh, those fickle bream! I say this with the utmost exasperation because they have been testing my angling abilities to the extreme. Some days I’ve failed to raise a scale, while the next outing has seen me return over a dozen rippers to more than 40cm. I’ve even been broken off by a few that have taken me deep into the timber. Boy these fish are hard to work out at times and there are days I wish I had never got so addicted to chasing them on lures.
Meanwhile the bait anglers have been getting some very nice fish and again the Tambo is where the bigger fish are turning up. Mick Cull from Sale has been using frozen prawn to get a good run of fish averaging 32cm, but has had even better results with fresh mussel bait. Dean Shingles from Maffra has landed some big bream to 40cm and lost plenty more in the snags.
The Straits at Hollands Landing has been running a little dirty and the Seacombe end is also not fishing well. The Nicholson is still running fairly clean and as usual the big bream that call this stream home have been tough to trick. If you persist and keep working on these fish, don’t be surprised to see bream to 45cm and above. For some reason the Nicho always seems to hold fewer fish, but a lot of them are real studs. Some days you can see plenty of big fish feeding but they’re impossible to catch. As I mentioned, they have really tested my patience. Again I would steer clear of the Mitchell River until reports of bream start filtering through as the dirty water starts to clear.Reads: 511