ESTUARY Report – 30.11.23
Overall the estuary fishing was a bit slow to finish Spring. In my countless hours on the water and following events around the state there were some good fish caught but slower than typical catches for this time of year. Again the combination of up and down weather has made fishing quite inconsistent.
This past week we saw major fishing events at Nelson, Mallacoota, Gippsland and Hopkins. I know event organisers very well and many anglers competing in these events. They pretty much confirmed what I mentioned earlier that some good fish were caught however the fishing overall was quite slow. With bag sizes especially for bream on the smaller side. I have spent many hours fishing local systems including the nong, yarra and patto and I’ve caught some decent fish but it has been slow. Even the volume of pinkies in these systems is a little lower then normal which I think has a lot to do with the weather.
I really suspect as we move into summer and hopefully get some warmer consistent weather we will see the estuary fishing fire up again. As the water temperature rises we will see many of these fish move from holding deeper pools, to more active and seeking shallower water. As we like to say holding the edges and you’ll often see bream right on the very edge in crazy shallow water to sitting so high on a bridge pylon, yacht or moored boat. We seem to have a consistent pattern at the moment of 2-3 days of good weather followed by 2-3 days of poor weather with high winds and rain. It’s the unpredictable weather of early spring that can cause some frustration. It’s making the water temperature fluctuate up and down and the fishing inconsistent in patches.
As I stated in the last report I’ve been jumping through so many different lures and plastics. Transitioning from fishing with blades and vibes in deeper water to going back to my favorite soft plastics, hard body lures, crab/mussel imitations, and fishing all areas including structure, shallow edges, and deeper pools. It makes fishing a lot more enjoyable when you can cover different areas and throw a variety of plastics, lures, and imitations with some success.
It pains me to say but bait is still outfishing soft plastics and lures in many of these systems. ill have a day on the Nong fishing with maggots and scrib worms and catch plenty in big numbers and fish the same area with grubz and craka crabs and catch a lot less. This will change I suspect as the water temp rises and these fish gain confidence. Take a variety of plastics and lures and don’t be afraid to mix things up. My goto is often lightly weighted soft plastics however longer casting blades and bibes in silver and black colours have been just as effective if not more effective in these conditions with cold water and poor water clarity. The muss and cranka crans are always outstanding options in these systems.
Bass and EP’s
I’ll keep this brief but we have slowly started to catch a few Bass and Estuary Perch. Not in huge numbers but they are slowly coming on. Now these species always fish best in Summer, especially on balmy evenings with low winds. I managed to get stuck into a few this past week or two at DevilBend, Melton Reservoir, Albert Park, and the Werribee River. Most of them sit deep within weed beds or tight against the stricture. Some required fishing with finesse of lightly weighted plastics and shallow diving lures whilst a few others were happy to smash a surface lure worked slowly.
We also had some success at Patterson River near the bridge overpass again with lightly weighted plastics and shallow diving lures. They were even hitting small cranks, blades and vibes but mainly in silver colours. No doubt I will have a lot more to share on this in the coming weeks/months as these desired fish slowly start to fire up.
Melbourne BREAM !!
In our last report, we were excited and expecting the bream fishing to come on really strong. However the weather has been terrible with so many cold and rainy days which has made the fishing really unpredictable. This past week I’ve been fishing 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 on a daily basis 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.
The fish are starting to move again and catches becoming more regular. 2 months ago fishing these same spots with lures and plastics was very slow. Now you should expect a few good fish and generally good sized ones. 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 paddletails 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 all the way to Avondale Heights surrounded by residential hills and trees. Contrasting different yet same fishing strategy.
I’ve also done quite well on the Yarra on stretches opposite the MCG and near the West Gate bridge. The same principles apply here. Baits work well same as mentioned above but also raw chicken for pinkies. With warmer temperatures on the way these rivers and estuaries will continue to fish better and better, so 100% great spots to dedicate some time to over the festive break. A few of our members have been fishing the Yarra on small boats and kayaks. They have been doing quite well in the early mornings and really targeting the shallow edges. The standout choices continue to be cranka crabs, mussle vibes and grubz worked ever so slowly. We’re starting to see more anglers use technology advancements like live scope which is a great way to see fish residing in structure. Watching them follow lures and plastics on the screen is fascinating.
Areas to focus on should include.
- Patterson River
- Maribyrnong River
- Williamstown near moored boats
- Web dock
- West Gate
- Limeburner’s by Kayak
- Yarra River
Vic Bream Classic
The grand final of the Vic Bream Classic was on this week at Mallacoota. I fished with event organiser Bill on several occasions a few days before the event. As stated above the results from Mallacoota were significantly less than in previous years. The weather played havoc with 15mm of rain on Saturday night of the event. Some huge flathead and Mulloway were caught however big bream eluded many of the top anglers. There were some nice fish caught but they did require some effort that’s for sure. Prior to this the Vic Bream Classic was held in Gippsland Lakes. 55 teams entered and fished during some excellent weather conditions. It’s great to see that many good size bream were caught although many of the anglers did report the fishing to be quite slow and challenging. There were several large bream up to 45cm caught which was excellent. The winners spent the majority of time away from the crowds fishing in Lake Wellington and caught some great fish mainly on baits. many of the others fished known areas including Hollands Landing and Metung. The fish patterns continue to be quite strange and again it shouldn’t be too long before we start to see the prized big bream holding the shallows and edges. This will be a reason why bait fishing has had great success and lures and bait a little slow.
The Pinkies have arrived in our local estuaries
The catches of pinkies have been well below usual numbers in our local estuaries. But as that water temp rises and slowly creeps towards 18 degrees which should see this improve greatly. Particularly around mouth entrances, fish the estuary and then make your way up closer to the entrances. here you get a really good mix of species, bream, pinkies, flathead, and more. I have been catching some decent pinkies up to 40cm in Williamstown along the main piers ( Gemm and Anne Street), I’ve also managed a few good ones around the warmies whilst chasing bream and mulloway. They were also on the bite around the Docklands and even further upstream of the Yarra opposite Rod Laver and the MCG. I’ve also had a few close friends having some success at the mouth entrance along the Patterson River for pinkies and even a few EPs.
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.
Trevally Fishing continues
The trevally fishing around the Barwon River feeding off Port Phillip Bay has been spectacular this past month. The gift that keeps giving and although it has slowed a little it is still fishing strong. What started as a land based session in Barwon Heads catching a few silver trevally fishing the small jetty opposite the main bridge in town has become an addiction. Not only have I been fishing this area land-based but I’ve also hit these waters now by kayak and by small boat. The results have been remarkable fishing from Sheep Wash through to the heads. On most occasions landing multiple silver trevally up to 65cms.
My most memorable was breaking in a brand-new Hobie Lynx. This day the water was flowing hard and the water clarity was terrible however within the first 5 minutes I landed a 60 cm silver trevally which literally dragged the Hobie Lynx kayak about 200 meters during a battle that lasted almost 10 minutes.
Silver trevally punch way above their weight and pound for pound are arguably the best fighting fish in our local waters. Certainly up there with bass and Australian Salmon. I tend to think they fight even harder. Rigging up for silver trevally is pretty straightforward. A 2-4 or 2-5 kilo spin rod paired with a 2500 size reel, 8-12lb braid, and 1 rod length of 6-12 lb fluorocarbon leader. I finish this off with a 1-0 size jug head in 1/16, 1/12, and 1/8 depending on how strong the current is, and any 2.5 inch grub, paddletail, and even the humble turtlebacks are fishing really well. The new Zman ST Grubz and Keitech easy shiners continue to be standout options here. You will notice the water clarity change significantly between tides. Outgoing can be chocolate brown and incoming can be crystal clear. Rest assured there are good fish there but it’s shallow and the tides can be very strong, so do take care when fishing here.
I’ve been catching plenty between these areas 38 16 136 | 144 30 527 and 38 17 064 | 144 29 800
GARS are on Fire
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.
Gippsland Estuary Fishing
A bit like Melbourne the estuary fishing around many systems in Gippsland lakes has been a tad hit and miss. I’ve employed similar techniques fishing slower and heavier with blades and vibes and have caught some excellent bream, but this method has also accounted for some very healthy size flathead up to 80cm. Gippsland in areas like Bemm, Tyers, Nicholson, and Tamboon hold excellent volumes of flathead and some mighty big ones. Casting silver blades in 35mm size into deeper pools in the last few weeks has accounted for some amazing flathead bycatch. Gee, they go hard when you catch a 60+cm flathead on a 1-3 kilo spin outfit targeting bream. Doing the same technique has also accounted quite a few salmon and tailor.
As the days get warmer heading into spring the water temp will rise and we will see some great fishing ahead of us around the Gippsland regions.
Glenelg Fishing TRIP
This week I ventured up to the Glenelg River on the Nelson. What a magnificent system this is and widely considered the mecca of mulloway fishing in Victoria. Unfortunately, we battled horrendous conditions which included 40 through to 60-kilometer winds each day. We did however cover a large volume of area fishing the mouth, the sticks, past tailors, past Donovans, Simpsons landing, and well over the SA border. We spent much of this time sounding up fish and really scoping the area.
Chatting with many locals in the area they have confirmed that the water clarity has been really poor this past few weeks a combination of heavy rain and strong winds. The terrible water clarity has seen the fishing quite slow. They also said this can be quite typical during this time of year with the Mulloway still going ok but mainly taking live baits whilst the bream and EPs are quite slow. The Glenelg is an interesting fishing destination and different from many estuaries we fish regularly. It’s quite deep in the middle which for the most part is around 10 meters deep. I couldn’t believe just how many mulloways we marked up on the sounder from the sticks through to under the bridge, past the huts, and all the way up to Donovans. They were in massive numbers and clear as day. The catches however were quite slow and I will put much of that to the herrendous conditions we battled.
We flicked soft plastics, trolled lures and even anchored up opposite the huts, near the entrance, and even wedged ourselves in the weed beds and reeds. We were using freshly caught squid for bait which I had caught at Campbell’s Cove the day prior. Rigged in an unweighted rig with 2 rod lengths of 30lb fluro straight to a size 5 unline circle hook. We put in a large number of hours through the howling winds and relentless rain. I suspect the fishing will improve greatly as soon as the water clears up. We were literally dropping soft plastics and fresh baits right into big schools of Mulloway but they just weren’t on the bite.
The bream and estuary perch fishing is also much better in the warmer months when these fish can be caught in big numbers as they hold the shallow edges. We managed a few flicking cranka crans and slim swimz casting towards the bans however we did notice that the majority of schools of bream were holsing deeper around 8 meters deep. It meant a change of tactics working blades and vibes.
I will be planning to come back in a few months when the water temp is warmer and hopefully the water much clearer. We covered ground, marked up fish, and used fresh baits, the right lures and plastics but t was really tough going. I’d recommend probably waiting a tad before venturing down that way.
Hopkins River Fishing
We recently ventured up to the Hopkins River which is roughly a 3 hours drive from Melbourne. We stayed at the NRMA caravan park for 2 days. We fished near the entrance around the bridge and up further the river mount towards the Mahoney road ramp. The weather was challenging but bearable with high winds in the mornings but a lot more comfortable in the evenings. After a tough start, we caught close to 100 bream in 2 days. Many bream between 25 and 35cms. Plus quite a few between 35 and 40cm. The largest catch was 41 cm. We threw a variety of lures and soft plastics. I had the most success with zman grubz and slim swimz rigged on a 1/20 ounce 1-0 jig head and also 3.9-gram Cranka crabs in olive colors worked very slowly along the edges, timber, and pylons. It’s a risky form of fishing but the bream were holding in tight cover and this seemed to be the best way to temp them out. We also managed a few fish using shallow diving cranks the standout being Cranka cranks shallow divers in the black colour.
We also caught a handful of estuary perch, trevally, flathead, mullet, and no shortage of bay trout. When the water temperature is dropping both bream and estuary perch can be in quite timid moods so working everything slowly gives them more time to strike. Adding some scent can help greatly when things are shut down. By far working the shallow edges seemed to work best. Once getting a few bites really spent some time in that isolated area as they were pretty challenging to find and temp.
Next month I have a road trip planned where I will fish the Nelson, the Glenelg, the Hopkins, Purrumbette, and Porltand over a week. So super excited to do that and share as many details to get you guys onto a few good fish as well.
Bemm River Fishing
I’m going to share a lot of insight into my recent fishing trip to Bemm River which was simply epic !! If you haven’t fished around East Gippsland I highly recommend you add it to your to-do list. Why? because it’s a remarkable fishing destination. Beautiful scenery, clear calm waters, and plenty of fish. There are many places you could fish around Gippsland including Bemm Rivers, Lake Tyers, Marlo, Hollands Landing, Gippsland Lakes, Mallacoota, taboon inlet, snowy river, Painesville, Bairnsdale and so many more. Many of these locations have been home to national fishing tournaments such as the Hobie Classic and ABT because they are exceptional bream fisheries. Here is some of the fine print for those who want to know where we stayed, and what we did, so that way you can enjoy what we did too.
Accommodation – We Hired a cabin at “Bemm River Holiday Accommodation” The cabins were neat, comfortable, and about 200 meters away from the main boat ramp so very convenient. The owners David and Robin were very polite and helpful. The cabin cost I believe was $150 per night. between 3 of us, that was very affordable.
Hire Boat – We hired a boat from “Hooked on the Bemm” It cost $150 per day. The boats were fuelled and ready on the water first thing for us. We walked to the ramp jumped on and away we went. The boats are very basic and only have 15 horsepower motors which are quite slow however they were very comfortable and stable platforms. 3 of us fished and there was heaps of room. The hire boats allowed us to fish areas of Bemm we could have never reached on the Kayak. Particularly the mouth where the river meets the sea and surf which was exceptional. Here we caught countless bream, trevally, and tailor.
We arrived on the 20th and left on the 25th. We fished every part of the river and caught hundreds of fish. Countless bream between 25 and 42 cm. The 2 guys fishing with me caught PB bream just shy of 40 cm. I managed to snag a few above 40 cm. We also managed many Trevally and Tailor. However, the surprise catches of the trip were 3 flathead up to 65 cm. The guys staying in the room next to us also managed to catch a flathead that was 81 cm. We also tangled with some estuary perch, and pinkies but the mulloway and surf species eluded us once we accidentally destroyed our bait-dropping drone which plummeted into the water due to a faulty propeller.
Bemm is a large body of water. Each day we focused on a particular area. I would break these up into the main lake ( right of the main ramp and left of the main ramp ) the entrance where the river meets the sea and finally up the river in the skinny waters. All these areas fish very differently, so it’s important to be super prepared. By far the standout for us was fishing the entrance where the river meets the sea. The scenery was breathtaking and the fishing was exceptional. We have some amazing footage of this that will be shared in the coming weeks. Here we caught many bream which were so healthy, silver and shiny in colour. We caught them on hard body lures. The standouts are the Hurricane Twitch 50 and the Jackal Chubby shallow divers. These were generally just slow-rolled without needing to add too much action or pauses. I also caught some amazing bream here using Zman 2.5-inch plastics the new ST Grubz in bloody oil which was a standout. Usually rigged on an HWS 1/20. I also caught countless Silver Trevally and Tailor in these same areas. In the evening worked some surface lures back fast and enjoyed the tailor smashing these on the surface for fun.
To our surprise, the flathead wasn’t holding the entrance. Well, not the big ones anyway. We instead found them in the main lake right of the boat ramps. Mark and Travis landed several flathead up to 65 cm. Caught on shallow diving hard body lures and soft plastics worked slowly or slowly rolled. It’s fascinating to catch fish of that size when fishing in only 1.5 meters deep. Here is where we also caught so many bream. The bream here were scattered far and wide. In the shallows, many were under 35cms. On the evening of our first night, I caught 15 bream in 20 casts however the biggest was 36cms. We caught so many that we got into experimental mode catching them on soft plastics, hard body lures, and surface lures and I even got a few on BT bantam baits, blades, and vibes. Although it is very shallow so fast sinking lures with trebles will be hard work. In the very shallow edges, you will see masses of tailor and poddy mullet. They’re not your target species however they are exceptional bycatch as they are larger in size and fight so hard when using bream gear. They leap out of the water and go on big runs. We landed a few big ones with scented soft plastics and surface lures that worked hard up against the edges.
The last stretch of the river is the skinny river entrance which follows the main road out of bemm river. This area is full of snags and home to some large estuary perch and many bream. These fish are smart here and will reside in the protection of snags and along the edges. It does take some skill to navigate around here and an electric trolling motor is often a game changer. This was very tricky with the hire boats however we still managed to pull a few nice fish. I hope that inspires you to consider fishing around Gippsland. Some of the locations aren’t the easiest but they are home to many exceptional fish. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and I’m very eager to get back soon.
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 email@example.com with any questions and suggestions. Take care and good fishing, everyone.