River Duskies Delight
  |  First Published: July 2006

The flathead took a little longer than usual to move into the upper reaches of all the rivers in the Gippy Lakes, but boy, they’ve made up for some lost time!

There have been some large numbers of duskies moving out of the lakes and pushing well upstream. Plenty of anglers have been out to meet them too. July usually sees the flatties heading back down into the lakes, so expect their numbers to taper off in the rivers.


This is where most of the action is, with all three rivers having big numbers of duskies. No one river has been fishing any better than the others. The fish have been moving around a fair bit, and where they’ve been thick some days, they’ve been gone the next.

Mick Selzer and his two boys walked the bank for a few hours and landed 10 duskies and a nice luderick on soft plastics in the Tambo. A nice effort for their first trip to the area – it won’t be their last!

Adrian Line spent two days showing his uncle around the rivers. They released 96 flathead, all of which were caught on plastics. Being more mobile in a boat, the boys were able to search a greater area of water.

Paul Spehr released over 40 flathead in a short but busy session recently. He commented that the further upstream he went, the fewer fish he found. Recent rain had pushed a little fresh and coloured water into the streams, and this might be pushing the duskies downstream.

I put a solid day in myself recently and returned over 80 duskies, with most fish between 38 and 45cm. I also released a couple of fish around 50cm, and one big girl at 73cm. Just before I got on the water two anglers released an even bigger fish of 84cm. Good to see!

A few days later my son Jack and I were joined by Michael Fennessy and his son Red for another session on the flathead, this time on the Tambo. The boys had a ball casting soft plastics around from the boat and each landed about 10 nice flatties, with a fair bit of giggling in between. Lures high up into trees and in dense bankside snags – yep, hilarious! All up, we landed over 50 flathead for the outing and the lads, including the dads, took home some great memories.


The Strait has proved very hit and miss with some days fishing slow and others really firing. The small number of flathead that did show up this year have now well and truly shot through. It was a disappointing run this autumn compared to the huge numbers of duskies that have turned up over the last three years.

However, a good run of bream have been keeping anglers pretty busy. Some big fish over 40cm have been caught off the local jetty too.

Surprisingly, there have also been quite a few luderick showing up. Sandworm is by far the best all-round bait for the Strait. You could also target mullet and garfish by using smaller hooks.


I recently met up with commercial fishermen, Matt Jenkins, Gary Leonard and Rob Morecroft who work in the Gippsland Lakes. We talked for over three hours, with them answering all my questions on about environmental issues, sustainable fishing, by-catch and successfully returning undersized fish. I was surprised to learn that there is hardly any mortality with unwanted species or smaller fish.

They shared with me some exciting news. Over the last six months or so Matt has seen huge numbers of juvenile bream in the Lakes, and of more interest to me, incredible schools of small estuary perch. He also mentioned a great run of whiting around 26cm that have been around for many months now, and plenty of big luderick right throughout the system.

So all looks good for continued natural recruitment and the future of our fish stocks. Matt also said that he has seen a few huge flathead – some of them he guessed were around 9kg! I can’t wait to get out and have a go at those thumpers.

We all agreed during the meeting that much is still to be done on monitoring both the commercial and recreational take from the system, and more research into environmental issues like freshwater flows and water quality. I look forward to talking with the boys more often, and get the latest updates.


Chris Burbidge from Melbourne put a day in around Marlay Point recently, casting small hard-bodied lures around the margins of the lake. He was amazed by how predatory some of the carp were, and was flat-out horsing in a few thumpers!

Chris said he watched some carp over 7kg suck his small lures down. He also commented that it could almost be called good sport, if these ‘mud-sharks’ weren’t the feral pest they are.

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