Welcome to the Nicholson River Fishing Guide. The Nicholson River is a diverse fishing location that offers estuary fishing near the mouth and freshwater fishing in the upper reaches. It is known as a wonderful bream fishery home to national events such as the Hobie classic. It’s a lovely fishing destination around east Gippsland around 3 hours drive from Melbourne and only a short distance away from township Bairnsdale. The river feeds Gippsland lakes past the princess highway and spans for 83 kilometres whilst feeding into the Mitchell and Tambo rivers. It’s a great place for families and a good place to stay is at the Nicholson River holiday park which offers cabins and camping right along the water.
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Things to do at Nicholson River
East Gippsland is a beautiful location surrounded by beaches, lakes and rivers. It’s truly a magnificent location for those who love the outdoors, camping, scenic views, mountainside walks and recreational water activities. Close by there is a good range of shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation. There are many playgrounds for the kids including Patterson Park. Nearby attractions include the Lakes entrance beach, Buchan caves, Footbridge mini golf centre, Art gallery, Wyanga park winery, Lakes entrance boat cruises and fishing charters, Griffiths seashell museum, and Raymond island. Nearby townships include Lakes Entrance, Paynesville, Bairnsdale, Metung,
Fishing Nicholson River
Near the river entrance, you can target species such as bream, bass, mullet, flathead, trevally, and tailor. As you move up the river it becomes freshwater where you can target trout and redfin. The Nicholson River is synonymous with kayak fishing for estuary species. The fish can be quite finicky and it does take some time to work out what type of lures, soft plastics, crab imitations or surface lures will work on the day. There is also plenty of land-based fishing with accessible river banks. Here you can target bream, estuary perch, and mullet with shrimp, yabbies, scrub worms, prawns, sandworms, maggots, mussels, & chicken. Click here to see our full guide for bait fishing for Bream.
However many will be fishing this area with lures and soft plastics on light gear. Targeting the edges, bridges and any areas with noticeable drop-offs or structures. Even rolling crank and hard body lure in open water can be effective here. When it comes to lures the choice of bream lures is almost endless. We recommend reading our guide on the best lures to catch bream. Options include imitation crabs, grub style soft plastics, minnow style soft plastics, shallow diving hard body lures, blades and vibes.
The choice of lures is almost endless to make things easier we created a detailed video on the best lures and how to use them.
Recommended baits Nicholson River
- Scrub worms
- bardi grubs
Recommended lures and soft plastics Nicholson River
- Cranka crab
- Zman slim Swimz
- Berkley powerbait grub
- Damiki Monster Miki 2.5 sp
- Jackall Chubby
- Savage Gear Fathead Crank
- Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
- Gulp 3 inch minnow
- Dawia Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
- Zman grubZ
- Squidge wrigglers
- eco gear ZX40
- Daiwa Double Clutch
- EcoGear SX40
- Squidges biotough grub
- Nories laydown minnow
- StrikePro cyber vibe
- Pro lure live yabby
- OSP bent minnows
Targeting Bream at Nicholson River
This is a great location to target bream with lures and soft plastics. The options available are almost endless so make sure you read our guide on the best lures to catch bream. Recommended options include crab imitation, shallow diving cranks, paddle tail soft plastics, curl tail soft plastics, minnow imitations, vibes, and blades. Also, try your luck with surface lures which is an exciting form of fishing with light gear. Bream is all about finesse fishing so you will need an ultralight spin outfit. We recommend a 7-foot rod in a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo class, paired with a 1000, 2000 or 2500 reel spooled with 2-6-pound braid and equivalent leader. There are so many amazing bream outfits on the market and budgets vary greatly depending on your skill level and spending habits.
Bream reside within the structure such as jetty pylons and stumps. Enticing them away from the structure onto your lure will take some time to master. Remember to work your lures and plastics slowly and mix up the retrieval techniques. If your targeting bream with bait than we would highly recommend sandworms, maggots, scrub worms, mussels, yabbies, & chicken. A 2-4 kilo class rod paired with a 2500 size reel would be a great option spooled with 6-pound line. We would encourage you to read our detailed guide on Bait fishing for Bream.
We recommend watching our guide on great lures to catch bream.
Targeting Estuary Perch at Nicholson River
Another highlight of fishing in this area is targeting Estuary perch with surface and shallow diving lures. The action can be frantic on warm balmy evenings with low wind. listen for the sound of breaking water which indicates EPs are feeding. The excitement an angler gets from an EP smashing a surface lure on light gear is something that truly needs to be experienced. It almost catches you by surprise when that aggressive strike comes. Small surface poppers, cicadas, blades, surface minnows and pencil lures work well here. So do shallow diving hardbody lures. Noteworthy options include bent minnows, Rapala countdown series, nories laydown minnows and shallow diving cranks. Basically, anything that doesn’t dive too deep and makes a good vibrating action will work well. You can use any colour choice we often start with silvers that mimic small baitfish or mullet.
EPs also respond incredibly well to a whole range of soft plastics lightly weighted. Including curl tails, paddle tails and minnow imitations. The trusty 2.5-inch grubs and minnows are an excellent choice. These imitate small baitfish which the EPs are actively feeding on. We would recommend mixing up the retrieval speeds and pauses and playing around with different colours. Where possible fish along the structure and stay alert for signs such as breaking water. Fishing for Estuary Perch requires finesse. We recommend an ultralight fishing combo consisting of a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo spin rod around 7 foot in length. Coupled with a 1000 or 2000 size reel spooled with 2-8 pound line and equivalent fluorocarbon leader. When bait fishing uses a 2-4 kilo rod around 7 foot in length. Coupled with a 2500 size reel either a float or small running sinker to a swivel and very fine leader.
Targeting Flathead at Nicholson River
We encourage you to read our detailed guide on How to catch Flathead. Flathead is a year-round prospect which can be caught at any time of the day. They are an ambush predator that waits in disguise for smaller fish to swim buy for an easy feed. This highlights the importance of keeping your baits and soft plastics towards the bottom. If fishing from a boat or kayak we would recommend drifting around the sandy flats until you find a good patch of them. Also, keep an eye for depth drop-offs which is a great location for an ambush predator to be waiting. We recommend targeting flathead with a 7 foot 2–4 or 3-5 kilo fishing rod paired with a 2500 or 3000 size reel spooled with 8-12lb braid and equivalent leader. You can go lighter, but flathead has bristly teeth that can compromise your fishing line.
Flathead is not fussy and will happily have a go at many various soft plastics and lures. We would highly recommend reading our detailed guide on the best lures and soft plastics to catch flathead. Top choices include worm and yabby imitations, paddle tail soft plastic, curl tail soft plastics, deep diving hard body lures, vibes, swimbaits, and blades. If you are targeting flathead with bait, we recommend using a paternoster rig or running sinker rig. Using a small ball sinker to swivel, then 50cm of 8-12 leader to a size 6 long shank hook. Good baits choices include pilchards, mussels, squid, chicken, whitebait, Pipis, blue bait and prawns.
Targeting Tailor at Nicholson River
Tailor is an aggressive predatory fish with sharp teeth that fight hard. They have a similar profile to a salmon and leap out of the water when hooked. They school up in big numbers hunting baitfish in packs and breaking water often a sign that there feeding. You can catch them trolling, casting lures or bait fishing from the banks or surf. Small metal slugs, curl tail soft plastics, and paddle tail soft plastics are great choices. So is full pilchard mullet, blue bait and garfish. Either on a single hook, ganged hooks and even on light wire trace if there cutting through your leaders.
Picking a suitable outfit for tailor can be tricky as they have sharp teeth and can shred your leaders with ease. When fishing in estuary systems we would typically use a 7-foot rod in a 2-4, 3-5 or 4-6 kilo class, paired with a 2500 or 3000 reel spooled with 6-8-pound braid and slightly stronger leader. If your targeting them in the surf then a long casting surf rod spooled with 14-20 pound braid and equivalent leader would be suitable. Handle carefully they have sharp teeth that can do some damage. If you’re getting hook-ups but dropping a lot of fish then consider using a stronger leader or light wire trace.
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All other images and videos shown on the Nicholson River Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.
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