South Gippsland Estuaries

There’s a long and a short version to most fishing stories and this is the short one – for now. Over the last couple of years I’ve had quite a few saltwater diversions away from the more convenient west coast of Victoria, instead heading across to the South Gippsland coast. Last weekend added another trip to these estuaries.

Powlett River

I started on the Powlett River – an outwardly unassuming little estuary, which, after several visits, I’m beginning to suspect may be more than just an entrée to other bigger systems nearby. On this trip, there was plenty of evidence of the winter flood which gouged out the mouth, and big rise and fall on the tide has left the river as clean I’ve seen it. I managed a small salmon and bream on a black Hammerhead, before heading over to Andersons Inlet to meet JD.

Second cast!

While I waited for JD to arrive with his boat, I fished the shore on the falling tide. The top third of Andersons can be pretty murky and at first glance, the water had that ‘yabby dam’ colour that looks unpromising for flyfishing. On closer inspection though, I could easily see my green Zonker fly down 2ft plus – and so could a 30cm estuary perch, which chomped it under a solitary mangrove tree second cast! A few minutes later, I put the fly across the mouth of a small side creek and another perch grabbed it. I’ve always felt a bit inadequate when it comes to catching estuary perch (a fish I like a lot but which I feel I don’t really understand) so this was an encouraging start.

The bank is good, but a boat certainly opens up possibilities.

The next couple of days in JD’s boat greatly improved access, and the fishing opportunities ramped up accordingly. Much of Andersons is an intriguing maze of channels and up the top half, these are rarely deep – and therefore ideally suited to flyfishing. Add in numerous mangrove-lined edges, isolated snags, drains, creeks, mudbanks and reedy swamps; and the habitat for fish and the things they eat is massive. If there were croc slides and 15C more temperature, you could be barra fishing the Top End!

Top End down south?

While the action was rarely frantic, we ended up with a respectable number of perch and trevally, a couple of flathead, a small salmon – and JD’s pending world record: a toadfish on fly! Yes, it actually ate the fluff fair and square. (JD initially though he’d hooked some weed, but then realised it wasn’t fighting quite that hard.)

With eyes like that, no wonder EPs can find the fly in discoloured water.

The more I fish Andersons, the more I’m realising what an extensive and varied flyfishery it is – far more than just the impressive salmon fishing that seems to be the feature of the lower half. Look at a sat pic, which shows up the complex channel systems and feeder estuaries, and you understand you could probably spend years here and not cover it all. Guess I’d better keep exploring!