Spring, to me, means wind and there’s been plenty of it in Gippsland over the past month. The rain is something anglers can put up with, but gale force westerlies make fishing super tough. But, as usual, those of us stricken with the disease of having to get on the water at least twice a week have battled the elements to find fish.
In general, the rivers and right through the Gippsland Lakes system, bream have been caught in fairly good numbers. Big schools of mullet have shown up in places where they are usually only caught in winter, like McLennans Strait and Lake Wellington. Flathead are still in the rivers and Lake Victoria is starting to see a lot of flounder.
For me, the fishing highlight this month has been the perch. Most rivers are flowing quite clean and I’ve had some interesting battles with estuary perch, trying to horse them out of the snags. My best session saw 16 beautiful perch, to 43cm, return to the water – all tagged. Two days later I went back for more action and couldn’t even feel a fish bump the hard-bodied lure, and failed to raise a scale. This is a pretty common thing when it comes to EP. They are there one day, and gone the next.
Anthony Havers and Bruce Robinson are also finding the EP hit and miss, but both have returned many fish, with some into the mid-40cm range. As usual, like all ‘swampy’ and tight-lipped EP anglers, just where they are pulling these nice perch has not been revealed! These guys may be very secretive, but they are proud to return all their estuary perch.
The Mitchell River is still seeing a few mullet taken on worm, from all the popular spots, with the bream being hard to find. The perch can be found if you’re prepared to put the time in, as they are up to their usual elusive tricks.
This time of year, I find the perch can look at a lure for up to a dozen casts, before wanting to attack. There have been some enormous carp caught in the lower river. A mate of mine hooked three carp around 7kg, while searching with soft plastics for bream.
The Nicholson has been quiet, but I’m sure the bream are in the upper reaches now that it’s breeding time. This river is a good option when the traffic is heavy on other local streams, and the water was running very clear when I fished it recently.
The Tambo is again producing the goods. Michael Fennessy landed some stud bream to 43cm, using soft plastic minnows. I’ve seen him in action and he really knows how to twitch and tweak lures to trick the fussy bream. He was even pulling fish out in the middle of the river, far away from the bankside structure. All his fish were released.
The flathead went quiet for a while when some freshwater came down the Tambo a few weeks ago, but some nice flatties around 50cm are now being caught again. The population of perch in this river continues to amaze me… in fact the amount of fish full-stop, in this system, is mind boggling. I’ve had an unconfirmed report of two anglers releasing about 120 bream over two days recently, all caught on soft plastics! At the time of writing, I’ve just heard the Tambo is again running a little dirty and it may pay to try well downstream.
Lakes Entrance has its usual run of trevally, tailor and a few bream. I also hear that the whiting are coming on the chew, and these fish will be a main focus for many anglers as summer moves in. The flathead are now also prime targets, and recent reports have a good number of them around Metung.
Seacombe is fairly slow with the bream at the moment, with the fish being hard to locate. I watched a handful of bream around 22-27cm come in one morning, while four anglers fished from two boats. They had many moves and didn’t really lose much bait at times. We were all battling the gale force winds in the end, and I was off the water by 10am. The amount of carp in the straits at the moment is unbelievable. I could not begin to count the constant procession of these ‘mud sharks’ cruising the edges. I looked on as many large carp splashed and belly whacked the surface. They were eating their fair share of sandworm on the hook, too. I was lucky they left my Squidgies alone!
Hollands Landing has good numbers of mullet at the moment and I also saw schools of garfish moving through. Bream at the Woodpile for those with plenty of patience.
Typical for spring/early summer, the water can run dirty one day and clear up the next. I also saw a few dolphins in the area and, although anglers might not welcome them, it does mean there must be fish around or they would be feeding elsewhere. A couple from Traralgon got some big mullet one morning, and when I looked in their Esky the fish were all over 30cm.
The mullet recently showed up, in big numbers, in the upper reaches of Lake Wellington. Just a few anglers were there to meet them, though, as this was an unexpected late showing.
If it was winter, anglers would have been ready for them, and getting your hands on a box of sandworm would have been tough. I tried them on the soft plastics one afternoon and, although I could see big schools of nice yellow-eye mullet close to the surface, they were pretty tough to trick on lure, but a few made it to the pan back home.
After the recent rain events, the water has coloured up again and flushed the fish out. The Latrobe River mouth is still the bream hotspot, though, and a few locals are landing plenty of big fish in the coloured water, on worm. Some big eels have also turned up, along with what I call ‘Lake Wellington cod’… aka CARP!
1. Bruce Robinson with a prime-conditioned estuary perch caught on a hard-bodied lure. A typical Gippsland Lakes perch, this fish has a little head and a really fat gut. This perch was tagged and released.
2. Michael Fennessy with another one of his bream on soft plastics, just before release.Reads: 977