Summer holidays always come around quicker than expected and often just the thought of going away at the same time as thousands of others can put a halt to any plans before they are even made. I myself have been in this situation many times before, always thinking of things to do over the Christmas break but never quite getting motivated to do them.
This year was a little different though, with one trip already in the pipeline, I thought I’d line up another, so I wasn’t sitting around at home counting down the days till I go away.
The plan was to head to East Gippsland to a little estuary I have been fishing for over 10 years, along for the trip was Nathan Grass who had never fished in this part of the country before.
We hit the road early Boxing Day with the hope of beating the foreseeable line of caravaners and holiday makers slowing down the roads.
We arrived around lunch time and pulled into the caravan park, unrolled the swag, set up the usual camping equipment and got to rigging up some gear.
A short drive to the ramp and we were greeted by less than ideal conditions, strong cross winds and heavy chop made for a very wet voyage across the lake as heavy spray showered us after pounding on every wave. We eventually made it in one piece, tho seemingly covered in saltwater.
One advantage of having been to any location many times before is having the knowledge from previous trips on which areas would most likely be productive. The ability to fish familiar water you have previously caught fish on before, can be very beneficial as you not only know details like water depth and bottom structure but you also have the confidence that the area is likely to hold fish. It also allows you to spend more time on productive ground and less time looking for it.
With this in mind we began drifting and casting an edge I’d caught many fish on before. The wind was howling and using the electric to slow down the drift was imperative as to not drift over ground without having properly fished it first. We boated a few small bream which made persisting through the wind a little bit more hopeful. Working shallow diving minnows across some shallow flats, Nath’s lure got crunched followed by the telltale head shakes and unmistakable flash of a big fish in shallow water. A short but tense fight ensued as we tried to stay upwind of the fish. It began to tire and the big head and blue lips of a 40cm+ bream emerged and we quickly slipped the net under it and the beast was on board.
A quick measure on the brag mat and the fish just poked over the 44cm mark. An exceptional fish for this system and one of the largest specimens I have seen out of here in recent years. After a few quick photos we slipped it back into the drink for it to go harass baitfish and hopefully avoid the lines of the bait brigade that would soon to be swarming the area.
We continued casting for the remainder of the afternoon, targeting similar sorts of areas, until we came across a drop off with some suspended weed, which we would soon discover was holding some very angry luderick.
Whilst luderick captures are not too uncommon on small bladed lures, its not every day that these predominantly weed eating vegetarians will attack minnow style lures, but these fish were climbing all over our shallow divers. The fish seemed to be balled up together and on several occasions we could see 2,3,4 fish following the fish that we had hooked. We managed several fish off this patch over a couple of drifts including a double and many missed hook ups which proved that this was not a once off by-catch and that these fish were actively attacking our presentations.
We can only assume that these fish were either in the process of spawning or getting ready to spawn and that this behavior was a natural instinct to protect their offspring from predation.
The next morning we awoke to much more pleasant conditions, clear skies, light winds and piercing sunshine. We returned to the bank we had success on the previous day, but as the entrance was open the tide was at a completely different stage. The clear blue ocean water of the previous day, was now dark, murky brackish water and with very little wind, the fishing seemed to be less than ideal. We moved back to another section of the lake and began casting some open water over weedbeds. Things were very slow here too as the weather from the previous day had stirred up the water and made visibility less than ideal.
We changed locations and focused on fishing edges with near instant success. Again casting shallow diving minnows, mainly the Norries Laydown Minnow and working them along the edge found us a number of fish, including a few larger models but nothing in comparison too the fish the day before.
As the sun got lower in the sky we moved to throwing surface lures and found the fish to be very tentative about taking our surface offerings, many swirls and small nips were experienced with only a handful of fish committing to the strike and eating our lures properly.
Although probably not as effective as subsurface techniques, there is just something about fishing surface lures that’s just so much fun and all the boils, bumps and swirls make up for the lack of solid strikes. Nath sweetened up his offering by replacing the middle treble hook with a set of ZX stinger hooks which seemed to help convert the bites of smaller fish into hookups.
Day three was probably our slowest day, choosing to fish new water in search of some larger fish and some different species. The lakes colour had settled a little and we persisted fishing open water in the main lake working along the drop off on the edge of a sand flat. Bites were tentative and few and far between but we ended up finding one nice fish mid morning who took a liking to a Daiwa Double Clutch 60 which I slowly twitched along the edge.
We spent the remainder of the day trying a number of new locations but most failed to yield anything more than the occasional average bream.
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