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Tailor and Mullet in the lakes
  |  First Published: September 2005



The Gippsland Lakes and its rivers have finally cleared up since the winter downpour. Many of the rivers were flowing dirty because most of the area received over 75mm of rain in just two days. It was much needed and the whole lakes system will benefit from the flush of fresh water. As a result of all the rains the fishing has been a lot quieter than other years. Anglers fishing the area have had to work extra hard to find a fish.

TAMBO, NICHOLSON & MITCHELL RIVERS

The Tambo has been fishing fairly tough but a few dedicated anglers have put long hours in to find some modest sized bream to 30cm.

Mullet have been the main target with sandworm and berley will help to keep these fish feeding.

There are still a few die-hard anglers persisting with soft plastics, and as always the odd two or even three pound bream is turning up. However, these guys are spending many hours searching the snags and structure to get their fish.

I’ve had a few reports from the Nicho recently. The usual late winter and early spring run of bream have yet to show up in big numbers. There have been some smaller bream to about 26cm caught as far up as the ‘Car Bodies’. Even the mullet have been slow, although quite a few yellow eyes have shown up at the boat ramp at times. Let’s hope the fishing improves as the water warms up in the coming months.

The Mitchell has definitely fished the best of all the three rivers with some really nice bream landed on lures at the highway bridge. A few of my mates have landed fish to around 35cm on hard bodies at first light. Surprisingly, no estuary perch are around, but they will show up any time soon as October is usually the best month to target them.

At this time of year there can be some big bream in Jones Bay so try searching for them from The Cut down to Lardner Point. Ricky Taylor from Stratford took his boys out fishing down at the silt jetties and got plenty of mullet on worm recently, with some fish well over 35cm.

THE McLENNAN STRAIT

Things are very quiet in the Strait at the moment and apart from a few mullet and small bream, anglers are not taking long to pack up and fish elsewhere. Jack and Dave Morris put a big day in working from Seacombe to the Woodpile recently and failed to turn a fish. These guys are gurus when it comes to pulling bream on plastics around here, so when they can’t find the fish, you know things are tough. Spring can be a difficult time in this area and Tom’s Creek might be worth a try.

LAKE VICTORIA & LAKE KING

Trolling for tailor in Lake Victoria has seen most anglers get a feed. If you find a school of fish then pull up and throw some surface lures around and watch as these aggressive hunters smash the surface.

Some huge schools of mullet are moving around the area and I got a few big yellow eyes down at Loch Sport recently. I saw some really fat fish as I waded the shallows. Wattle Point also has plenty of mullet off the jetty and flathead are still plentiful although most duskies are under 32cm. I saw two very nice whiting, both around 40cm, caught near the boat ramp there.

Tailor are also present in Lake King. I’ve heard of some nice fish landed around Newlands Arm and McMillan Strait around the Paynesville area, while Shaving Point near Metung is another popular haunt for the tailor. Even a few flatties are still being caught. Bancroft Bay has seen a variety of fish caught with small pinkie snapper and even some flathead to 50cm.

COMMERCIAL FISHING BUY-BACK

All anglers are hoping that the commercial fishermen of the Gippsland Lakes will take up the current offer for a voluntary buy-back of their licence. This would leave the estuaries along the entire East Gippsland coast, from Seaspray to Mallacoota, free of netting. Such an outcome would be an incredible achievement and more than just a win for anglers.

It shows that we’re all finally prepared to take the right steps in looking after our environment. Sure, there’s more to be done to improve water quality and restrict the amount of freshwater being held in dams and reservoirs, but our estuaries are too precious to be commercially harvested. Some people will argue that the netters are entitled to make a living from fishing, and if fish populations were sustainable, that might be the case. The problem is that nobody knows what the long-term damage is to our inlets!

There may also be a need for anglers to accept changes to their fishing regulations. For instance, should we have a closed season for spawning bream? Should there be more size limits for some fish, such as only one bream in your bag over 40cm? After all, big females are our good breeders.

At the very least, shouldn’t we all agree to stop all netting for an extended period, of say five years, and see if fish stocks start to recover? Even if it takes ten years, we need to learn more. As anglers or commercial fishers, all of us need to think about preserving our fish stocks for future generations.

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