Flathead in the Gippy Lakes
  |  First Published: December 2005

This month signals a significant seasonal shift in relation to fishing the Gippy Lakes.

The typical wet and windy spring weather should now be behind us. From here on all the rivers will start running clearer, and the bream fishing will really start to pick up. Anglers will also start catching more whiting throughout the lakes and the flathead will become more active.

Speaking of those flathead, I recently had a long twelve hour day flicking soft plastics around the shallows. I landed 105 flatties for the day and released them all. They ranged in size from 34-46cm, and four of them had tags in them. I rang the VICTAG hotline (1800 677 620) and reported the recaptures. All the fish measured around 40cm when first tagged about 5 months ago. Surprisingly, all four fish had grown very little, with one fish putting on a modest 2cm. They had not moved far from their point of capture. These may seem like fairly uneventful results, but historically most dusky recaptures have suggested some big movements of up to 50km, in similar time frames.

These four flathead suggest that, perhaps not surprisingly, at least some fish tend to reside in one area. The slow growth rate may be due to them being less active over the colder months.

If you recapture a tagged fish, as well as ringing the VICTAG phone number, you can also email me with the details. I will find out the history of your fish. Remember to record the fork length and total length of your fish accurately. Tagged fish can be kept, but it would be nice to see them swim away to be caught yet again!

Peter Spehr who lives part time at Lakes Entrance, has also been busy stacking up big numbers of duskies. He regularly tags and releases 30 or 40 in his usual five hour sessions on the water. It’s fair to say that Pete was happy fishing live baits over the many years, and has plenty of pictures of flathead to 14lbs to prove it. These days it seems he has certainly worked out just how effective soft plastics are, and over the last two years has tagged over an incredible 4,000 dusky flathead! Peter is very reluctant to accept any accolades for his efforts, but we should all appreciate that some of these tagged fish will get caught over in the next few years and should provide amazing insights into the growth and movement of this important recreational species.

This huge ongoing project of Pete’s will probably never be repeated and when considered alongside more than 2,000 tagged bream, this guy’s making a real difference to our knowledge base.


Both the Tambo and Nicholson rivers have been fairly quiet recently, and unfortunately I have very little to report. This is not unusual for this time of year. I believe the best fishing is ahead of us and I’m sure the bream will start to fire later this month.

The Mitchell has been a little more productive, with nice bream caught downstream of Bairnsdale, right through to The Cut. It seems this river would be the best option to find a few fish, until things starts to fire up towards the middle of summer.


All is fairly quiet in McLennan Strait as well. I have talked to plenty of anglers over the last few weeks that have really struggled in the area. I also went for a look during that time and I didn’t even get my rods out when I saw the colour of the water. It was a really light milky brown and casting lures into it didn’t seem like a good idea! I’m thinking that I’ll leave that system alone until mid December when I’ll give it another try.


The flathead are really starting to fire at the moment and I’m sure they’ll feature heavily when the big number of holiday anglers move in during the next six weeks.

Willy Shingles from Maffra told me of some big trevally he was hooking around the various jetties. He was lucky enough to land a few after busting off a heap on his light bream rods. He said some of them were over 1kg and made a particular point of highlighting just how hard they pulled. There’s no doubt that although some of us prefer not to eat these fish, they certainly make for some great sport. Pound for pound they pull as hard as any southern estuary species!

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