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ESTUARY Report – 27.05.2024

Stay tuned for this week’s FishingMad YouTube video its an absolute ripper and shows my recent trip to East Gippsland fishing Gippsland Lakes, although the fishing was slow in patches some of the catches were amazing. Landing big bream up to 47cm with the key to success being weedless rigging of soft plastics as it was very snaggy and tidal. I have created a workshop on seedless rigging this week which you can catch now as they were critical to catching good fish and I think it is really important knowledge to share for systems that are very snaggy and very tidal as getting your soft plastics deep into those strike zones are critical and the normal way of rigging just didn’t allow for that. Locals also did well using blades and vibes with lots of subtle lifts which certainly worked on the bream.

Let’s get stuck into this week’s report to help get you into a few fish.

 

Weather Forecast Ahead

Monday and Tuesday are the best days to head out this week with low winds and sunny conditions. However, things start to change with northerly winds up to 30ks over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before settling back down over the weekend. However, scattered showers will start from Thursday and run through to Sunday. I am not expecting huge rainfall so Sunday could be another good opportunity. Watch Meteye and the usual weather apps closely to see how it progresses during the week. I’ll be out fishing on Monday and Tuesday for sure.

Weather conditions are always changing so study the weather forecast frequently before your fishing trip using tools like Meteye, Willys Weather & Windy ( links to these tools can be found in “helpful Links” ). Remember to check wind strength, wind direction, rain, and storm warnings. We have workshop refreshers that help you identify areas with low swell based on wind direction, so look at those if you’re unsure. Know the capability of your boat, kayak or jetski and never take unnecessary risks that might put you or your passengers in danger. Conditions on the water can change quickly so ensure you have all of the necessary safety equipment checked and ready. Remember to be sun smart during Summer as it’s easy to get sunburnt or dehydrated and to wear appropriate clothing in cold and wet conditions. 

 

Moon Phase week ahead

The new moon is scheduled for Thursday 6th June so tides will be slow to start the week but progressively get stronger. The nights are still quite light which is great for fishing in the evening and nights.

 

BREAM REPORT

Bream

As mentioned above I ventured up to Gippsland Lakes. The bream fishing was challenging and brilliant all at the same time. Landing 8 bream over 40cm with a couple measuring 47cms which makes it all so worthwhile. Weedless rigging of zman 2.5 inch grubz was critical for me in getting these catches as well as embracing blades and vibes which helped to fish the deeper and tidal zones. In my 2 recent trips to Gippy Lakes, I landed close to 50 bream a combination of smaller ones and some trophy sized fish. I also used some of the new clone prawns and mussel vibes with success. the range of plastics, lures, topwater, vibes, blades, worm and crustacean imitations for bream is next level. I will update the soft plastics and lures 101 sections with some recent items I have had great success with.

The bream fishing continues to be outstanding in the Gippsland region around Lake Tyers, Bemm River, Hollands Landing, Marlo and further towards Mallacoot. Also the complete opposite side on the Nelson/Glenelg, Aire River and Hopkins River. Around Melbourne, I’ve had a few trips around Williamstown, Maribyrnong River, Barwon River, Yarra River, and Docklands, and even ventured down to Patterson River. I’ve been mixing up the techniques of fishing with bait, lures, and plastics. As mentioned above I have been fishing with plastics, lures, and bait. I’ve caught up with a few of my old mates who fish the nong with bait almost daily and they have been catching bream up to 42cm in big numbers. Many of these fish are being caught around the Essendon, Flemington, and Avondale Heights area on live baits including maggots, yabbies, and scrub worms. Berley does help so use feeder rigs or berley in an isolated area which will bring the bream and mullet in.

I have been fishing these areas walking the banks and also navigating around on my Hobie Lynx. I work shallow diving hard body lures like cranks, chubbies, and minnow imitations slowly hard up against bridge pylons, timber structures, and any visible tress. This has worked well snagging a few good size fish at areas like the Footscray bridge. I have also fished with the usual soft plastics 2.5-inch grubs and 2.5-inch paddle tails rigged on a hws jig head from 1/12 through to 1/28. Working these along the shallow edges, structure, and even in open water. I’ve caught some nice fish employing these basic techniques. The bay is really busy at the moment with the snapper season rush its been awesome to fish these metro rivers by land or kayak. Taking in the sights, enjoying no swell, and casting at something that you know will hold fish. Even Port Melbourne, Docklands, and around the CDB have heaps of stricture that hold good fish. Along the moored boats, jetties, and buildings on the water are standout areas to wor lures, vibes, crabs, and soft plastics. Adding some scent to all of the above when the bite is a little quieter. It’s amazing how the scenery changes so much in these areas. I paddled last week from the CBD surrounded by buildings and traffic, I paddled to Avondale Heights surrounded by residential hills and trees. Contrasting different yet same fishing strategy.

Areas to focus on should include.

  • Gippsland Lakes
  • Nelson River
  • Aire River
  • Hopkins River
  • Lake Tyers
  • Hollands Landing
  • Patterson River
  • Maribyrnong River
  • Williamstown near moored boats
  • Web dock
  • West Gate
  • Limeburner’s by Kayak
  • Yarra River
  • Docklands

 

MULLOWAY REPORT

Finally, we had our first catches of Mullway around Melbourne with some soapies between 60 and 70cm caught at the Yarra near Port Melbourne and the entrance of the warmies. All taken on squid strips, over live bait which is surprising yet pleasing. It’s still a little bit early but with the water temperature slowly declining it will soon be a good time of year to target these magnificent and powerful fish in more consistent numbers.With the water temperature slowly declining it will soon be a good time of year to target these magnificent and powerful fish.

I generally wait another month until it gets a bit colder then target them with live baits including squid and mullet or my favourite of throwing around 4 and 5-inch soft plastics. Tackle Tactics/Zman recently sent me some of the new Mulletrons to try out and I must admit they look great. Especially the ones in the bad shad colour. So I will be dedicating some time to Mulloway over the coming month. I will venture up to the Nelson River later this month and will spend some time trying to get stuck into these fish. Spending some time targeting Bream and other time targeting Mulloway. When I get back to Melbourne I will target them in the Yarra River, The Warmies and Maribyrnong River.

Areas to focus on should include.

  • Nelson River
  • Hopkins River
  • Barwon River
  • Warmies
  • Yarra River
  • Maribyrnong River
  • Anderson inlet

 

 

Snapper/Pinkies

Snapper

Snapper and Pinkies have slowed down this past few weeks, however, we did have a few members send in pics and videos of some huge ones caught at the entrance of the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers. I still managed to catch my fair share of them in the shallow reefs around Altona and Williamstown but most were on the smaller side. Soft plastics have been the standout choice here. I have been using 2.5-inch and 3-inch paddle tails rigged on 1/12 and 1/8 jig heads with success. I’ve been using quite a bit of scent and working the plastics very slowly while the bite is still inconsistent. With some patience and work, you will no doubt get a few. I’ve also managed quite a few mullet and bay trout as bycatch. As mentioned above this will only get better and better over the coming weeks and after quite a slow fishing in our estuary systems across Melbourne over winter the bite will soon greatly improve.

It’s a really fun time of year when the pinkies come into our estuaries and you can catch them consistently on light spinning gear. I love targeting them with my bream gear a 1-3, 1-4, or 2-4 kilo rod paired with a 2000-size reel. It turns targeting fish under 50 cm into a fun and enjoyable sport. Trust me a 40cm pinkie will give you a decent battekly on light spin gear. Pinkies have only just started moving into our estuaries and this will only get better and better as the water temperature rises. We usually get them in big volumes around the entrances in Dec through to March.

Areas to focus on should include.

  • Lake Tyers Entrance
  • Webb Dock
  • Werribee Rockwall
  • Yarra near the West Gate Bridge
  • Sandringham Breakwater
  • Portland Harbour
  • Apollo Bay

 

FLATHEAD REPORT

As mentioned earlier I had a few good days at Lake Tyers catching big flathead. I caught several right at the entrance opposite the Caravan park, some a tad further down right in front of the main boat ramp and some around the old glasshouse. I also caught a few on the flats around Mill Point and even further heading towards the Nowa Naowa arm. Small cranks slow rolled were the top performers, and so were minnows such as double clutches and blades like TT switch prawns. Baits were also outstanding including a pilchard tail on a basic running sinker rig.

Flathead is back on the bite and Bemm River, Marlo entrance, Tanboon inlet and others around lake entrance and hugging the coast towards Mallacoota have produced some big lizards. Locally closer to Melbourne were also see flathead numbers really pick up in the bay too and even in the entrances such as the Yarra. The good news is that flathead fishing will get better and better from here. I usually consider peak flathead fishing to be between late December and March however this past year they stayed strong on the bite until about May. Flathead are one of the easiest fish to target which love baits, plastics and lures. Who doesn’t love catching a few flattues to take home for a feed?

If you are on a boat, jet ski, or kayak then the best way to catch flathead in these areas is to drift. ( if your land based on plastics good idea to keep walking and covering ground ). If you fish with baits the best method is using a paternoster rig with a very small sinker, so you don’t get snagged as your drifting. I’ve been using pipis a lot lately targeting whiting and always pick up some good flatties as bycatch with pipis. I got so many double hookups of flathead doing this the past few weeks, so this simple technique works so well. For soft plastics, it’s also best to drift and rig a 3-inch or 4-inch paddle tail, curtail, or worm imitations. My standout soft plastics have been the ever-reliable 4-inch turtleback worm in camo colour, 4-inch Keitech easy shiner in silver flash colour, and 3-inch z-man grubs in watermelon. In areas where the big lizards are then large swim baits work amazing so do blades and vibes too.

Areas to focus on should include.

  • Lake Tyers
  • Bemm River
  • Mallacoota
  • Bemm River
  • Marlo entrance
  • Tanboon Inlet

 

PRAWNS REPORT

We caught ourselves a great feed of prawns at Lakes Entrance opposite the main bridge. Walking at night with waders on using underwater night light and long-reaching net with a deep netted area we walked around the shallows and were amazed at how many prawns were about. Lots of smaller ones but some good-sized ones among them. Between a few of us, we managed about 40 prawns in 20 minutes. Which made great eating and also great bait for big flathead. We also tried prawning at Lake Tyers near the local Caravan and Pub we caught some but had to work much harder for them so I would recommend doing this at Lakes Entrance. Prawning is often considered best around the full moon whilst the water is nice and lit up.

 

Australian Bass and Estuary Perch

Bass

I consider the bass and EP fishing to be at its best during the warmest water temperature months and this is generally January through to March so we’re slowly moving away from this prime setting. I fished several balmy evenings over the last week locally and was happy to see a lot of surface action but only managed to transition that into a handful of catches using surface lures and sub-surface plastics and vibes. I’m still targeting them with a variety of soft plastics, vibes and blades worked slowly but I will solely fish with surface soon. Well once that water temp rises a tad. Pulling out some favourites like Jackall Micro Tappys, Tiemco Cicada, Storm Gomoku Popper, Shimano BT Bait Bantam, Savage Gear 3D Cicada, Jackall Micro Pompadour and OSP bent minnows and Daiwa Slippery Dogs. This form of fishing requires patience, covering ground and looking for visible snags. Remember they will be most active at sunrise and sundown when they are actively feeding on bugs on the water surface.

The bass and EP fishing will only get better and better. I’m now part of the VFA Vic Rec Fishers board and am amazed by the numbers and investment in these fish to local and remote waters. Our 2023 bass and estuary perch stocking season has finished up with 32 lakes and rivers sharing in 721,000 fingerlings to improve fishing opportunities and bolster wild populations. 5 million bass and perch have been stocked over the last decade. This year included Lake Glenmaggie (50,000) Blue Rock (52,000), Bullen Merri (10,000), Elingamite (10,000), Traralgon Creek (10,000), Mitchell (100,000), Snowy (60,000), Cann (40,000), Timbarra (20,000), Macalister (22,000), Latrobe (20,000), Avon (10,000), Tambo (10,000) and Thomson (5,000), Gippsland Lakes (98,000), Lake Tyers (10,000), Lakers Cutting (15,000), Barwon (45,000), Werribee (20,000), Bemm (10,000), Snowy (10,000), Upper Stony Creek Reservoir ( 24,000), and Devilbend Reservoir ( 9,000 ).

I’ve been getting some good fish in the quieter areas up high on the Werribee River beyond Eynesbury and will focus some time locally around Werribee. Now be careful these remote areas have plenty of snakes. So do wear boots and even gaitor protective pads on the higher reaches of your legs.

Hot spots that are fishing well include

  • Patterson River for EPs near the entrance bridge pylons
  • DevilBend Res in the shallow weedy edges
  • Werribee River
  • Blue rock dam
  • Rocklands Reservoir

 

Garfish 

Garfish

The Garfish at Lake Tyers was exceptional. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Gars were jumping out of the water on every cast and following your lures and soft plastic on every cast. I also managed to catch about 10 gars on lures which was a first for me as I was targeting bream and flathead. They are excellent sizes too. If you enjoy eating gars then there is no better spot right now, especially near the entrance where the estuary meets the ocean.

When you think of estuary fishing you typically think of species like bream. However, in many of our estuary channels that feed off the bay, we are seeing excellent fishing of garfish. Much of this will be close to the entrances where there is a good volume of saltwater. This is the time of year when the garfish come on strong and can be caught in big numbers consistently. Stand-out places from an estuary standpoint have included Patterson Lakes on the rock wall between the bridge and the entrance to PPB. Corio Bay between St Helens and Limeburners, the Yarra entrance between Williamstown and Port Melbourne.

The key with Gars is berley. You need to berley consistently to an isolated area every 10 to 15 minutes. You can buy premade garfish berley or make your own using simple ingredients like breadcrumbs, aniseed oil, pilchards, and chook pellets made into a fine grain. Get your baits ideally maggots, silverfish, small pieces of prawn, or pilchard on a very small hook and float. Like all fish species, you will have moments of quiet periods and moments of chaos but when the gars come on strong the fishing is generally a lot of fun. Also, make sure you are using the right gear which should be super finesse. 1-3 kilo rod, 1000-2500 size reel, and very light line and leaders. I generally try and fish either 3 or 4 lb. You won’t need any heavier for gars.

 

Wrapping Up

I genuinely hope these detailed reports help get you onto some cracking fish. Don’t forget to follow our podcast, tutorials, catch-of-the-month competitions & giveaways. Thanks for being a treasured FishingMad Member and don’t hesitate to reach out to me at alan@fishingmad.com.au with any questions and suggestions. Take care and good fishing, everyone.

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