My Victoria – the place to be

File 8-02-2016, 1 01 08 PM

John Didge gives you a quick around the state report covering places he and his friends have fished recently. Some great and some strange catches and always delivered in a lighthearted entertaining manner.

Shane Marriot caught this Trevally on the Flats in Geelong

Shane Marriot caught this Trevally on the Flats in Geelong

For something just a little different this time, I thought that maybe with the help of some friends I might take a journey around the amazing state I love, Victoria. There is so much to offer in Vic these days whether it be estuary, heading off shore or up onto what’s left of our lakes and river systems after 15 years of drought. So the thinking behind this article is that myself and the Jigman Team members have fished all over the state in the last month, and I thought that this time I would take you on a trip down the East Coast, talking about our catch stories with a few reports chucked in and a technical twist.

I fished with my Team Jigman mates in Lake Tyres, Mallacoota and Bemm River and in the fresh water at Lake Eildon – but make sure you read well because apart from the tips that helped us catch fish I will insert the latest fishing reports for January and February. Like all stories we have to start somewhere and for this Fisho I had decided to take the month of January off – no Radio show, no Jig Making, just fishing!

It all started on December 29 in Mallacoota joined by a good friend Shane Marriot for the trip with plans on joining Paul Mayer in Lake Tyres on the way home. Mallacoota is the half way point between Melbourne and Sydney on the Far East coast of Victoria, about 7 hours from each capital city. Mallacoota is an interesting place to fish in Jan and for this trip I was doing it land base (no Boat). Mallacoota has over the last few years undergone some big changes. I remember fishing it when the trip there from Melbourne took 10 hours and the roads in were all dirt and the town was more like an old movie set that had been abandoned. These days it’s a Mecca for tourists, the local population has grown and for the more well to do people in this world they have managed to take all the chaos that is the BIG city and move it to the quiet coastal bush setting of Mallacoota.

John Didge Nailed 2 of these 5lb Poddy Mullet in a row of the Flats

John Didge Nailed 2 of these 5lb Poddy Mullet in a row of the Flats

There have been some great changes if you are a land base angler or kayak Fisho, you are a very lucky person. Parks Victoria in there wisdom a few years back cut a series of hiking tracks along the water’s edge and 4 vehicle access paths for Kayaks and bush walkers through the bush. But that’s not all. At the end you have primitive toilets and free BBQ’s and some places even small Jetties!

The hardest thing about fishing Coota in Xmas School Holidays is the shear volume of people in the town. Everywhere you go someone else is in your spot. This is the same for all the locations I talk about in this article but the further you walk the fewer people you encounter. Generally at this time of year the amount of boat traffic makes fishing hard and I have a preference toward fishing there at the end of January through to April for my Flathead but there are still plenty of fish available. As you may know by now I am a Soft Plastic Fisherman and locally in Mallacoota many may push you towards using BIG plastics but I will direct you elsewhere the reasoning for that is nothing more than it’s easier to get a fish to strike in these high pressure fishing condition’s by using small plastics, worked slowly. Color is important. Try not to Mardi Gras your Plastics (Loud Color). It’s very important to present a natural looking Soft Plastic when things are hard. Try using 3 or 4inch Plastics in natural color’s like silver, grey, blacks and browns. UV Plastics are also OK. My favorite colors in this situation are Watermelon or Pumpkinseed color’s as they have a natural reflection in the water and look like they are meant to be there. Staying away from Brand specifics it’s all about small. Use 3 inch minnows with slightly bigger weights. I use Jig Man 1/4oz – 2/0 Jig Heads and most importantly stay in contact with the bottom.

Don't step on these in Lake Tyres at night when pawning they come out every where

Don’t step on these in Lake Tyres at night when pawning they come out every where

Its amazing that the hordes of holiday makers roll in from the city with there boats only to get as close to shore as possible and the land base Fisho’s stand on the shore casting as far out as possible, all the time wishing they could be where the boats are fishing. Adopt the Jig Man Plastic technique, make your cast from a boat along the Bank fishing shallow into deeper water at about 45 degrees and for the bank fisho same deal but out from the bank. A good reference for this is previous Kaydo articles on Soft Plastics. Most common catches will be Flathead and Bream. If you really must use bait, prawns and live poddy Mullet will work great.

On the way back to Geelong you pass by 2 amazing inlets in Tamboon Inlet at Cann River and Bemm River. Both of these places are the most amazing fishing destinations but generally I would call them Boat or Kayak Fisheries only. Tamboon is fishing of its face right now. Big Bream, Flathead and EP’s to boot! It’s an awesome Lure and Plastic Fishery. Camping is the go but make sure you contact Parks Victoria to make a booking and take everything you need. There are no amenities available on site and Cann River is about 25 minutes away. Bemm River is a similar destination. Very shallow water, big frogs and Bream and only a month back they dumped a heap of EP fingerlings in there to add to the already huge population of big Estuary Perch. There are caravan parks and cabin accommodation available and the Pub knocks up a cracking Steak and Chips.

Shane Marriot with a fine Mallacoota Flathead

Shane Marriot with a fine Mallacoota Flathead

The trip doesn’t stop there. About 1 hour further down the street you hit Lake Tyres. Don’t be afraid, this place is insane! Giant Flathead and Bream are on tap for a lot of the year, big fat Poddy Mullet on Fly or Lure and during the Dark Moon phase (NEW MOON) and you can gain fat old man status, or Woman, as you feast upon the massive prawn population. I doesn’t matter if you are a land base Fisho or boat Fisho, there are plenty of fishing spots for all. There are a few caravan parks and the Water Wheel Tavern has some cabins at the back of the pub for those who wish to not drive.

Fishing reports for the area as of the time of this article are that Shrimp Prawn pattern Plastics are working best but you will get results casting 4 inch Minnows over the Flats. Use a Jig Man 1/4oz – 2/0 Jig Head for the sustained hook up. There is lots of food for the fish at the moment so grabbing every bite is important. Fish the bottom hard and stay in contact with short jigging actions and while the Prawns are running I suggest fishing later in the day before dark, maybe use the morning to recover. Lake Tyres is closed to the sea at the moment but the fish are to a degree still staging as if the tide was flowing, so knowing this I recommend you target points or wash over areas where during the tidal flow the fish will wait in ambush for the lunch to come along. If its Bream then work the bank side snags or the deeper waters or the main Lake in the early morning or late evening for best results.  I think its important to remember at this time of the year the tourist traffic is a nightmare, so be prepared to have to deal with shear numbers of other Fisho’s on the water.

Author with 2 nice Corio Bay Frogs

Author with 2 nice Corio Bay Frogs

If you like to fish inland, Lake Eildon has been growing into a world Class fishery for natives over the last decade or so. After putting over 1 million Murray Cod in there and countless Yellow Belly fingerlings its now possible to catch Cod and Yellow Belly on a regular basis. Jig Man Pro and local Fisherman Andrew McCarthy has seen some great Fish caught over the last few month’s and tells me that targeting rock walls and the deep water snaggy out crops will yield the greatest results early morning and late evening on the Natives.

Jig Man Pro staffers the Bryant family have been in the mix Fishing Corio Bay and Port Phillip Bay over the last Month or so. I fished with them a few times in January we had a ball catching Flathead, Pinkie Snapper and Pike. Interesting tip again, and I think you may find a pattern here, but fish your plastics real slow. Big Jigs and constant contact with the bottom are a must and although the Big Reds (Snapper) eluded us there were a few fish in the 50cm class and a fist full of cracking Flathead. Corio Bay has it all. In the outer harbours at the moment the Kings are on the go as are the Big Snapper. I recommend using Big Soft Plastics but the fish are changing all the time so seek out local advise the day before you go so that you have the right Plastic on the day. King Fish are a big feature right now, all outer reefs off shore (Barwon Heads) are littered with them and in the deeper waters of Port Phillip Heads they are swimming under the Salmon Schools. If now you are not sure where to start well just hit the water try and find a pattern and I am happy to help in any way. Well just keep it simple this time of year try to match the color of the bait fish in the water and fish slow, very slow.

Young angler Hayden Bryant with a Cario Bay Flathead

Young angler Hayden Bryant with a Cario Bay Flathead

Good Luck!

John Didge

About John Didge

Owner and C.E.O of The Jigman John has had a passion for Soft plastics for the last 30 years and is widely renowned as one of the best in his field of Soft Plastics. But the passion really kicked in about 20 years back and In 1990 it basically become Johns only form of fishing, dedicating himself totally to fishing Soft plastics and nothing else. His reputation is as a big Flathead specialist travelling the coastline of Southern Australia in search of big Flathead and as Captain of Team Jigman along with Paul Mayer and Adam Van De Lugt The Jigman team is well known and it has sent fear into the minds of the Dusky Chasers (trash Talk). John Didge is also well respected in the fishing Media as host of the Geelong Fishing Show for the last 26 years but also on stage talking about fishing at Fishing expos and angling clubs (He never shuts up about Plastics Fishing). Second in the Media Classic during the 90’s at lake Mulwala, 6 time winner of the Conjola Flathead teams invitational (Dodgy little mates event), winner of the Mallacoota Reel it in Flathead Challenge in November 2013 and following it up next year with winning the Narooma Flathead Challenge in Feb 2014 and taking out Big Fish with an 81.5cm Flathead in Narooma Flathead Challenge in 2015.

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