A challenge beckons
  |  First Published: August 2007

Being in contact with a big network of local anglers keeps me well informed about how the fishing is going. Without exception, all the latest reports tell of some of the leanest and toughest days on the water in recent times.

Sometimes telling it the way it is makes for a fairly ugly report. Still, I’m going to give it to you warts and all! There are a few nice bream captures to talk about, but the lack of fish being caught is the feature of this month’s report. Recent rainfall and the resulting floods are a major cause of the lack of fish.

The big wet

As everyone knows by now, East Gippsland finally got the big dump of rain it needed, and there has now been considerable follow-up rain as well. All the rivers into the Gippy Lakes have been flood affected. At last the terrible dry spell has definitely broken, in this part of the world at least. It’s often said it takes a flood to break a drought! The down side is that with all the dirty water about, estuary fishing will now take a back seat at least for the immediate future.


Another great run of big bream showed up in early winter and, after the last few rain events, they should now be flushed right out of the rivers and into the lakes. Usually mid-October and November, when the fish start spawning, is when we see them move back into the rivers. I know that bait anglers using prawn or shrimp have found a few bream to 1kg in the Nicholson and Tambo rivers, but generally the bait boys have been fairly quiet.

It’s the lure anglers that have been really cleaning up. Special mention goes to Anthony Havers who has had some awesome sport, returning plenty of thumper bream to 44cm. Using soft plastics, he has been fishing deep and slow while stacking up 10–20 fish on each of his last six days on the water. He absolutely swears by the Gulp! lures, and the 4 inch Worm or 3 inch Minnow are his favourites.

Another great effort came from Rick Morrison. He went and braved the local dirty rivers between the heavy rain and fished sandworms in the fast flowing, chocolate coloured waters. Incredibly he pulled two thumper bream over 40cm, proving there’s no stopping the keenest anglers even in filthy flooded water! Both fish were released.

Sight fishing for bream

In a few outings before the rains with a good mate of mine, Chris Burbidge, we experimented with our newfound addiction of sight casting to bream. Searching the clear water of the lakes over the last few years has opened up an exciting and at times challenging way to lure for bream. We cruise the endless shallows of the lake edges until we spy on our quarry, then cautiously flick lightly-weighted lures to the fish.

Some bream race over and gobble up just about anything we put in front of them. Other cranky customers spook in a hurry, as if we had dropped a bomb on the water. Most of the time, inquisitive bream amble over and inspect our hard-bodied lures – and more often than not just swim away without any further interest. Some will follow right up to the boat and charge off just before the lure is pulled out of the water. This does get you rather frustrated, but the few fish that we actually trick and hook up to makes it all worthwhile.

On the rare occasion, a bream will materialise from nowhere and before you know it you’re hooked up and watching it shake its head trying to rattle the lure free. Regardless of how it happens, actually seeing and observing bream at the point of hook up is so much fun. On our last day out we tallied up eight fish each, from 34–40cm, and while we didn’t break any records, we certainly went home smiling.

Tough days ahead

Now for the not so good news. After the recent floods, the estuary fishing scene has been turned upside down and it will take a long time to recover. It was the downpour we needed, though, and the floods of 2007 will go down in history as a real drought-breaking event that put water back into our thirsty dams. In the long run, the Gippy Lakes will only benefit from the big input of fresh water.

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