Perch, Prawns, Bream and Flathead
  |  First Published: January 2010

The Gippsland Lakes are again providing a top fishing playground for anglers enjoying the last of the holiday fun.

There’s an incredible range of species on offer and the summer prawn season is not far from peaking but you can still get a feed right up until at least the end of April. The water clarity is incredible and a far cry from the murky green algae waters of a few years back.


As usual the local prawns have been a big hit over the last three months and right now is when they should be at their highest concentration. They have spread far and wide this season with big catches right up around Eagle Point and Tambo Bay.

That means you don’t have to join the crowded entrance area to get a feed. Don’t forget the week before and after the new moon is the best time to get out for a night of prawning.

Even on nights when the wind gets up, you can still get out for the evening. If you get a map of the Gippsland Lakes you can always plot a course and find a sheltered bay or get in behind one of the islands to get out of the breeze. Calmed off and glassy water makes it easy to spot your quarry.

Estuary Perch

Perch have been taking mainly soft plastic lures recently, although blades jigged down deep are also hooking a few. The Mitchell River is again the hotspot with plenty of perch that are usually not far from the highway bridge in town. Plenty of perch to 30cm have been released and you can use a sounder to find the large tightly packed schools.

It’s easy to pull a few perch out of the mob but they quickly wise up to what’s going on. I caught 25 recently using a Snapback soft plastic on a new Spines jig head fitted with deadly double hooks. Snapback plastics are tear resistant and very elastic, and you can stretch them out to 3 or 4 times their length and they will not break.

It took me quite a few hours to find the perch and I had to keep on the move to find new fish.

Dusky flathead

Lake King has been the hotspot for the thumper flatties and some of the biggest duskies are going 75cm. A lot of these big fish have made short work of light lines intended for bream or whiting. You will need to bump up your line class to at least 5kg or even 8kg to stop them breaking you off.

Other areas worth trying include Metung, Paynesville and one keen angler went snorkelling around the jetties just to see what was living down there and was shocked to see very large flatties sitting right around the pylons. He even noticed prawns sitting on top of the sand in broad daylight. A few flathead will also be found at the mouth of the Tambo and in the Mitchell down at the Cut.


Although a few nice bream are showing up in the Tambo and Nicholson, big numbers are now hard to locate. One sure fire location to find them is around Paynesville but getting them to eat a lure or bait is another thing!

First and last light are the best times to target them and they will be close in on the jetties and parked up under the moored boats. Well upstream in the Mitchell River there are big numbers of small bream to about 26cm taking small prawn baits and blades worked deep out in the middle.

To find bigger models use suspending or slow sinking lures and slowly search the edges of the stream. If you’re bait fishing then throw un-weighted prawns right in close to the edge and if you can get them, live shrimp would be even better. Locals, Ray and Jill Cross swear by sandworm and have a lot of success in getting luderick and mullet as a by catch bonus.


The good news on whiting is that they are now back in the lake system and catches are on the rise. Most of them are being caught close to the entrance using mussel baits but there seems to be a lot of whiting just under legal size.

While in that area, be sure to look out for schools of salmon because some are nudging 2kg and will gobble up any sort of lures. With the top sport they can provide, nobody should ever drive past a feeding mob of salmon.

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