The incredible run of dusky flathead that started in late summer and persisted right through into the middle of winter has finally finished. The flathead first started thinning out in the lower Mitchell River, the Nicholson and most dramatically, from the McLennan Strait, where they vanished overnight.
I recently fished at Hollands Landing and although a dozen or so boats were out early in the morning, most anglers were heading home before lunchtime. This was a sure sign that the fishing was very slow, and I really struggled to find any myself. I saved the day by finding three bream, all of which took small hard-bodied lures. I did see people landing good numbers of mullet from the jetty – some were at least 35cm. It looks like the run of mullet this year into the Gippy Lakes will be a good one.
The Nicho has been very quiet recently, and the area where I was finding big numbers of duskies six weeks ago has now shut down. I spoke to a local angler who was parked on the bank near the railway bridge fishing with worms. He told me the fish had all disappeared by mid June. He reported that even the bream were hard to find and was not surprised to see me empty-handed after three hours on the water.
The Tambo has also been fairly quiet. Glenda Brain, a keen angler who fishes this river several times a week, told me that although big numbers of bream around 18cm are taking sandworm, size fish are a rarity. Again, the flatties have definitely thinned out in the upper reaches of the Tambo, but a few duskies are being caught down at the mouth. One catch worth mentioning was a bream over 4lb, landed by Greg Jerkins on a small hard-bodied lure. This big mamma was released to swim another day.
A few mullet are keeping the anglers happy in the Mitchell. Some bream are being caught above the highway bridge, but the huge run of dusky flathead has also moved out of this system.
As many locals and visitors discovered, Hollands Landing and Seacombe had a terrific run of flathead over late summer and early autumn, but sadly they seem to have finally cleared out. They may well need a rest from hungry anglers who must have taken tons of fish home for the plate. As my mate Havo put it, “The great flattie cull of 2005 is finally over!”
There are still a few luderick and bream around, taking mainly sandworm. The ripper frosts over the last month have brought the mullet in – they are now very thick right through the Strait and Gippsland Lakes. Fishing with worm off the jetty at Hollands Landing is producing a feed of big mullet for most people. While fishing here recently, a good mate of mine, Paul Spehr, landed and tagged a whopper bream of 46cm that took a soft plastic lure.
These lakes are still producing a few flathead, but better results have come from those chasing leatherjackets. Some locals told me of a few very nice fish around 34cm that took pipi and sandworm around the Metung and Payensville areas. Mullet, garfish and small bream were also plentiful.
Flatties are a little harder to find in Lake Victoria now, but big schools of yelloweye mullet are cruising the shallow bays, and will take any small bait under a float. You can pump your own worms just about anywhere in these lakes, and plenty of soft shell is also easy to find.
Don’t be surprised if some big bream and mullet turn up to feed on all the berley you create while pumping bait. I used to take a long surf rod holder out with me and have my bream rod sitting in it, with a sandworm under a float not far away from where I was gathering bait. It’s a good way to catch some mullet and also garfish as they move in for an easy feed.
Anthony Havers recently fished the Avon River where it flows into Lake Wellington and reports that the rain has pushed plenty of carp into the area. He managed to hook two of these enormous ‘mud sharks’ on soft plastics, with one well over 12lb. He said his light bream stick got a real workout, and he was glad to get his pink Squidgy Wriggler back too. The carp were apparently so thick that it was hard not to foul hook them while retrieving the lure.
Paul Spehr about to release a tagged bream that measured 46cm.Reads: 5595