You have to love the sting of the hot summer sun – for the Gippy Lakes, it means flathead time has arrived and the prawns are back on the menu. There are pinkie snapper, luderick, tailor, trevally, flounder and hopefully big kingfish to play with again. The real highlight is the excellent lure fishing for bream. It’s a very busy time of year and I’ve got plenty to report on.
The shallow lake waters are now clean and bream are in the shallows digging for shellfish and chewing on mussels. You’ll also see and hear them slurping down shrimp or prawns especially, early in the morning right on dawn. They’ll eat a well-presented lure and provide some very hot sight fishing for keen fishos. The best fun for any angler is to watch a bream cruise up behind a surface lure and gulp it down.
I use a bent minnow Switch 66, because they’re the perfect size and have the precise erratic action needed for getting even the fussiest bream to strike. I’ve watched a few anglers struggle to hook bream on surface lures recently and the real trick is when to strike. A lot of people will lift way too forcefully into the rod, as soon as a bream breaks the water and attempts to suck in the lure. Quite often, you pull the lure straight back out of its mouth and then see the fish spook off at 100mph.
It’s best to pause a few more seconds and wait for the bream to really grab hold of your bent minnow. As it turns its head to go back under, firmly twitch your rod sideways and then you’re pulling the lure into the mouth of the bream. Your hook up rate will be far more successful. The best places to try this surface action right now are along the lake edges of the flats between the mouth of the Mitchell and Nicholson rivers, as well as Bancroft Bay, Boxes Creek and the shallows from Kalimna right up to Nungurner.
The odds of finding a big aggressive yellowfin bream are better at this time of year, so be sure to beef your leaders up a little. I’m still using a lot of blade lures during the middle of the day, as the fish go deeper in the late morning. The Nitro Axe 37mm Vibz made by Hurricane are still braining them. Whatever this lure has got in colour or action, I’m not sure, but some days it’s all I can hook bream with.
This is now prime time for catching the Gippy Lakes dusky flathead. Right now you need to target areas like Metung, Nungurner, Nyerimilang and Kalimna and areas like the North and Cunningham Arms down near the entrance. Start your lure search close up near the bank side and as the morning gets older, search out in deeper water even down to 3-4m.
Big blade lures and heavily-weighted soft plastics to 90 or even 120mm are all the go, and search fast! I still prefer the Squidgy paddle-tail plastics and still have hundreds of them that I purchased nearly ten years ago now. They worked back then and continue to be excellent lures today.
The really big duskies up to a metre will likely be caught by those who use live bait like fish or large prawns. I have seen dozens of huge flathead totally ignore a lure, but those same fish rarely give up the chance of gobbling down a struggling fat mullet or even a small tailor.
When using soft plastics, blades or hardbody lures, cover heaps of water and find out where the flatties are hanging out. If needed, slow your lure retrieve down. Be fully aware of the size slot limits for dusky flathead, because they have been in for a few years now and the bag limit remains the same at five fish per angler. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that fish caught so close to the mouth of the Gippy Lakes near the ocean are the yank flathead.
I can guarantee you that 99% of the flatties you catch will be a dusky, so treat them all as dusky flathead to avoid breaking regulations. A word of warning – if you’re using surface lures where flatties live, every now and then a big flathead will come from nowhere and monster your popper or bent minnow. These outrageous explosive surface strikes will take your breath away!
Another positive around the Metung area at the moment is the big schools of pinkie snapper that will invade the area. These are great fun for kids and even keep mum and dad occupied. If you work the deeper waters around the jetties with small blades or soft plastics, expect to catch plenty of pinkies from 20-32cm. You’ll also get bream, trevally and luderick. Once again, yellowfin bream are sure to be lurking in the same area, but will prove a little harder to find. We’re all hoping that the big kingfish will turn up again this year like they have for the previous two summers. Fingers crossed.
The best places to look for prawns and flounder over the next month will be anywhere from Kalimna to Metung and right up towards the mouth of the Tambo River. Many anglers are now turning into night bats and putting in big hours even into the dark of early morning chasing prawns. I’m getting mixed reports of some nights really firing, while other trips fail to deliver.
The best tip is to make sure you plan your trips around the new moon, because the darker the night, the more you’ll find. Those walking the shallows looking for prawns have been very impressed by the numbers and sizes of flounder, so it pays to also pack the spear while you’re wading the shallows.Reads: 141