Fishing is hot after the floods
  |  First Published: September 2007

While nobody would dare begrudge the wonderful drought breaking rains of recent times, but it sure did put the breaks on catching fish in the Gippy Lakes. That only lasted for a little while though, because things are really starting to fire up again.

I know a lot of people are saying the system needed the input of fresh water, but let me tell you the recent floods were a lot more than ‘a good flush’. The incredible volume of silt and mud coming down the Macalister, Thomson and Latrobe rivers is probably unprecedented in recent memory. I work right on the Macalister River and it is still flowing very dirty. Mark my words, it will be many months before these rivers start to clear, and even longer before they return to normal clean water flows. Despite all this, a lot of big fish are being landed right now.

Bream on earthworms

Already there are plenty of bream turning up and even though the Tambo was still very coloured, a few resourceful and determined anglers got quite a few on garden and scrub worms immediately after the floods. These baits might sound unusual, but after big flood events the locals have always turned to earthworms. I suspect they would work at any time of the year, but the logic for using them after floods is fairly obvious. I know most of the bream that have been caught on plain old garden worms were taking hooks loaded right up with a heap of the little red wrigglers. If you’re lucky enough to know where to get a heap of big scrubbies, then just one of these fat worms per hook will be enough.

TraditionAL baits TOO

In the Twin Rivers competition, based in the Tambo and Nicholson rivers, there were scores of bream weighed in that were caught on shrimp and prawn. This proves that traditional and proven baits work in any water conditions. In fact there were fewer anglers than a year ago, but more fish were caught in this year’s competition.

Most people were of the opinion that the floods had washed the fish away, and sadly many cancellations were made. I think it’s fair to say that we are all very surprised and pleased by the great results the competition produced. Of the hundreds of bream caught, 117 were tagged and returned, while a further 120 bream had their otoliths extracted for aging.

No one expected to see that amount of fish caught. The biggest bream went 1.75kg and there were a few just under that mark as well. A few mullet and a single perch were the only by-catch. One bag of four bream weighing in at 4.5 kg was caught on soft plastics. Again the most pleasing aspect to this year’s event was that more and more competition anglers decided to return their catch. Slowly the ‘kill and grill’ idea of competition angling is becoming a thing of the past.

56cm bream!

While doing my regular fishing report for radio 3SER, I found out about a bream caught down at Metung that measured an incredible 56cm! I would think a fish that size would weigh in close to 2.5 kg? Apparently pictures were taken of this leviathan and I’d be happy to share that pic with VFM readers, so feel free to e-mail me. This would probably be one of the biggest bream any of us have seen! Tune into the Fishing Show on 97.7FM, (or listen on line) each Friday morning from 7am.

Boat ramps re-opened

Seacombe and Hollands Landing ramps can now be used again after they were out of action for some time. This will give anglers access to the immediate area but I think you will need to wait another month or so before useful numbers of fish turn up.

Lake Wellington is still full of extremely dirty water coming all the way down from the Macalister River. This very dirty water was seen flowing right down to Lakes Entrance and even quite a way out into Bass Strait. This will give you some idea of the massive amounts of silt and dirt being washed out of the hills. In fact this dirty water was washed up all long the Ninety Mile Beach. No wonder this flood, in some areas at least, has been called the “one in 200 year” event.

Looking ahead

So, rather than moan about the dirty water everywhere, get out and go fishing – there are plenty of fish to be caught. As I’ve already mentioned, the Tambo will be worth looking at and I’ve also heard the upper reaches of the Nicholson River are cleaning up well. I reckon this river system will be the first where it will be worthwhile swimming a few lures around.

Luderick are turning up around the jetties at Lakes Entrance and the tailor and salmon should also be coming in on tidal water.

Mulloway anyone?

Jewies are a big mystery in the Gippy Lakes and I don’t know of any anglers who dedicate enough time to chasing these estuary giants. After floods is apparently the best time to look for them. They certainly live here because commercial fishers netted two just recently, near Loch Sport. Years ago they were chased by a handful of cagey old timers, but these days they seem to be the forgotten fish. Livebaiting mullet or tailor was the preferred way to target them, and would still be deadly today.

Sea runners

One fish you should also be on the lookout for over the next few months are sea run brown trout. I’m tipping that these fish will have been pushed way down into the lakes system and could turn up and surprise anglers at any time. Even Atlantic salmon turn up each year and what a nice surprise it would be to jag one of these, as they are often very big fish.

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