Winter Welcomes Hot Fishing
  |  First Published: May 2009

The colder months bring a warm feeling to the anglers of the Gippsland Lakes as it’s right in the middle of the best period for hooking bream. Bream start moving up into the rivers and anglers are land-based can now get in on the action as well.

Over the last five years we have also seen winter flathead really come on the chew and the chilly water does not seem to slow the duskies down at all. The last six weeks has seen some of the best fishing we have experienced in the Gippy Lakes for a very long time and may even get better over the next month or two. It’s a busy time for keen fisho’s who have to make do with the shorter daylight hours and battle cold windy conditions.


Robert Harvey from Nicholson took me out for a day in his Triton bream boat and we mainly fished the Mitchell River entrance. We used 4cm suspending Micromax lures that the bream were very eager to attack. We found it a little harder hooking the fish though and we missed and dropped more than we landed. It was great sport and a few flathead jumped on to our hard bodies as well. Although seeing some much bigger bream cruising the shallows, we found those wily customers very cranky and they refused to eat anything we threw their way.

A few days later I got Robert out in the kayaks and between us we returned 57 bream, a couple of flathead and I got a luderick on lure which is fairly rare for me. On this particular day the bream were less inclined to attack suspending lures and much more aggressive on sinking ones. I found by making my lures sink with a little lead weight fixed to the front W hooks. This was getting my hard body down to the bream where they were feeding on tiny baitfish. At one stage as we walked a section of the river and in the crystal clean water, we actually watched bream move up and grab the lure along the shallow edges. Great sight fishing. Right through out the Gippy Lakes anglers are reporting in with some terrific bream fishing of late and it’s been a few years since the lure action has been this good. I’m tipping it will only get better.


Another keen lure angler getting a lot of fish lately is Neil Morrison who again has been stacking up big tallies on each outing. He has mainly been working the ever popular blade lures in deeper water in the Mitchell River, and apart from landing over 20 bream and a dozen flathead he told me about some big luderick as well. He landed three good-sized luderick and then horsed up a real thumper to the back of the boat before the guesstimated 2.5kg brute spat the hooks out. Nice fish on a blade – pity it got off!

Blade lures are still all the rage presently and with every visit to the tackle shop, it seems another brand hits the shelves. I reckon it won’t be long before spinnerbaits (that catch plenty of bass and yellowbelly) will also be commonly used on bream. I hear a whisper that a few snapper are now taking spinner baits so it won’t be long before these unusual lures start hooking bream. I’ll put money on it!


The ever-reliable duskies have been caught in huge numbers recently. You have to feel sorry for the flatties because they respond well to all forms of fishing. They just can’t resist eating any sort of lure or bait and it was a bit sad to hear about some big flathead to 80cm being killed rather than returned, as these big fish are the female breeding stock. All the same there were also plenty of stories about anglers releasing the big duskies and to those people, I say well done!

The sooner Victoria adopts a slot size limit to the dusky flathead like they have in Queensland, the better. Something like making the legal size for these fish between 35cm and 65cm, which probably represents 90% of their population anyway. The smaller fish get to grow a little more and at least breed once, while the bigger fish get to pass their ‘big fish’ genes on and give us all a chance to hook and get pictures of a monster dusky before release.


It was also interesting to hear that tailor are back in the lakes and were seen busting up baitfish around Metung. It’s been quite a few years since they have appeared in big numbers and it’s probably yet another sign of how healthy the Gippy Lakes are at the moment. Try the jetty at Wattle Point for a few tailor and cast lures far and wide with quick retrieves and don’t forget to fish a heavy line class to withstand their sharp teeth.

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