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May Bream Beauties
  |  First Published: May 2006



The weather has been stunning! Autumn offers some of the best fishing conditions of the year, with little wind and mild, sunny days.

The recent ABT bream competition enjoyed some great weather. Well done to the bream guru Chris Wright for another record breaking win (check out all the details on page 60 – Ed.).

BREAM

The bream fishing throughout the Gippsland Lakes has been steadily gaining momentum. Two fellas from Melbourne sent me a fantastic report and some pictures. Con Markopoulos and Nick Antonio caught some cracking bream to 43cm on lures in the Tambo River and down at Paynesville. They proved that searching around the Lakes system can really pay dividends.

GARFISH & MULLET

At Hollands Landing, huge schools of gars and mullet have moved in. Sandworm has been getting land-based anglers a decent feed. Some of the bigger gars have even been taking small lures intended for bream.

FLATHEAD

Sue Leslie, Mick Rollason and their baby son James were also visiting Gippsland from Melbourne recently and decided to have a picnic on the shores of Lake Victoria. They casually threw a few baits in while having lunch and started catching flathead to 40cm. They ended up with a great feed of fish. Sometimes I think we forget just how easy and enjoyable angling can be! A family day out in the sun and a few flattie tails too. How good is that?

Again, the duskies have been caught throughout the Gippsland Lakes system, although at this stage they’ve been notably absent from the higher reaches of the rivers and the McLennan Strait.

ESTUARY PERCH

Lately, I've been talking with Dick Brumley from DPI Fisheries in Bairnsdale. Dick has been interested in my tagged estuary perch, and the recaptures. He tells me that there has been a lot of interest in recent months regarding estuary perch, with a reduction in the daily catch limit receiving general support from the Gippsland angling community.

A combination of increased targeting of estuary perch, difficulties with identification between bass and perch, the presence of hybrids in some of our Gippsland waters and the efficiency of modern lures, all suggest that it might be time to review estuary perch bag limits.

SHARING THE RESOURCE

Our conversations have also led to other subject matters, like the health of the Gippsland Lakes and how recreational and commercial fishers have their differences. I mentioned to Dick that I know three pros working the Gippy Lakes, and had talked to them over the last three years, largely because they’ve caught estuary perch I’ve tagged.

There have been many years of conflict between commercial netters and recreational anglers, particularly in the Gippsland Lakes. As Dick pointed out, it’s pretty clear now that the most important issue we all face is habitat decline. Maybe it’s time for the two sectors to get together to thrash out a few issues. A united lobby group with a bit more punch would certainly have a better chance at addressing some of the aquatic habitat challenges facing our fisheries.

Discussions with Commercial Netters

I’ve recently been in touch with some of the pros and they’re very interested in getting together to jointly tackle some of the big issues such as research into fish stocks, size and bag limits, closed or restricted seasons and habitat restoration.

It's a big leap of faith and it may take some convincing to side up with commercial netters. Regardless, I'm willing to give a meeting a go and have already talked further with two of the pros, Matt Jenkins and Gary Leonard, over the phone. They’re both top fellas and quite concerned about habitat loss, water quality and the effect of drought on our estuaries.

They’re hoping to improve anglers’ understanding of their netting practises, as well as how they’re perceived by the broader community. Anglers abuse them regularly while on the water. Matt has even had an anchor thrown at him!

Is Netting Here to Stay? 

In the past I’ve always had a very negative opinion of netting. I’m now trying to seek a more informed view of what happens, although I openly admit that I’d much prefer to live without any netting of perch, bream and flatties.

We are all hoping to meet up soon. Both Gary and Matt have offered to take me out for a day to see how they actually harvest the fish.

I'm very interested in your thoughts and opinions on commercial fishing in our bays and inlets, and welcome any comment via email.

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