For a lot of people, summer means it’s time to get serious about catching fish. For others, it heralds the start of a long prawning season, with late nights spent scooping up prawns with a dip net. Regardless of what you’re chasing, December’s a great time to be out on the water. As usual, the Gippy Lakes will be firing!
Professional fisherman in the Gippsland Lakes, Matt Jenkins, rang me recently and we again talked about all things fishy. Just after the floods back in winter, he started to see incredible numbers of bream turn up in Lake Victoria and Lake King. That trend has continued right through to summer. It seems recreational anglers aren’t the only ones encountering the huge run of bream of the last few months.
Matt spoke about some real monster bream he had been seeing on a weekly basis. He estimates the biggest ones were weighing about 3kg! He made mention of returning a lot of these breeders, and also made special comment on the thousands of small bream he sees every outing. Seeing truckloads of little bream under 20cm means the future looks good for our great waterways here in Gippsland. Matt has often told me that bream numbers have been steadily rising for many years, and he could never understand all the talk about the ‘bream crisis’ in the Gippy Lakes. I think people may now sit up and listen to what Matt has to say.
Matt was also frank enough to admit that he had absolutely no idea where or why the big bream have been in hiding all these years, or why nobody could catch them. As with many unknowns in fishing, some mysteries are better left unsolved so we can all get a surprise now and then.
Matt went on to describe the big number of estuary perch he’s also been finding right cross the Gippy Lakes, and said they were turning up everywhere. They’re not schooled up in any one area, but spread out far and wide, and always on the move. Most of these ‘EPs’ are as fat as mud and measuring between 35–50cm. He also encountered large numbers of ling and whiting to 40cm, and made mention of the absence of tailor and salmon in the system.
The warmer months are also prime flathead time, and reports have already come in of big duskies up in the North Arm and around Wattle Point. I was pleased to hear the bigger fish have been released. It’s almost common practise these days to return flatties over 60cm. Often these bigger females are spawning at this time of year and it’s shame for them not to be able to release millions of eggs for future stocks.
Steve Wheeler and his mate had some excellent results lure fishing down at Paynesville recently. They caught a lot of bream from the jetties on the Raymond Island side of the strait, up to 1.5kg and averaging about 800g. They caught them on soft plastic minnows and hard-bodied vibes. Water in this area is quite clear and sight casting to bream around the structure can make for exciting angling.
Warren Bertram from Maffra has had great success bait fishing the Tambo, catching beautiful luderick to 40cm and bream a little smaller, all on prawn. Shrimp has proved to be another deadly bait, especially down in the lower part of the river near Johnsonville Boat Ramp.
It seems the upper sections of the river have slowed, except for the odd perch. Steve Gash has been at it again, not mulloway this time, but perch on lures in the Tambo. He used small hard-bodied lures to catch and release small perch of around 30cm – but he wasn’t letting on exactly where in the Tambo!
Summer is the start of the prawn run down at Lakes Entrance, and going on the last few years we could be in for another bumper year. Just after Christmas last year, as many as 120 boats were lined up each night on the weekends when the moon phase was right. A lot of people were fishing right through until daylight, and most were getting around five or even 10kg of prawns a night.Reads: 997