South-west to the Hopkins

Well it’s that time of year again. Shorter days, colder mornings and the river trout season is about to close. So recently, I opted to chuck the ‘yak on the ladder racks, head south-west and chase some bream. Predicted winds were light to moderate NNW which would give me some good drifts along the cliffs on Warrnambool’s Hopkins River. 

Tranquil early morning conditions on the Hopkins.

Arriving at dawn to glassy conditions, I launched at Jubilee Park, hoping for a chance at an estuary perch or bream off top water. But no luck on the surface. Maybe too glassy. Maybe too clear. Maybe I’ll never know… That’s fishing!

Quick change of flies – I’d hit the vice the night before and tied up some BMS Hammerheads. 

Hammerheads are hard to beat for subsurface bream.

Shorty after the fly change and sitting a touch deeper, still fishing a rocky edge, bump… bump… eat! First fish on. Not long after that – same edge, casting along the drop-off – another little bream landed. Right, that’s it! They’re sitting on the edges in about 1.5 metres of water, just outside of sighting depth. 

Success on the Hammerhead.

The Hopkins River is perfect for this. Long banks, slow drop-offs. On the opposite side, big cliffs, deeper edges, each turn in the river holds its own bream sanctuary. Amongst the large snags, rocky reefs and reedy banks are also likely spots.

Fishing from the kayak is a great option and an easier way to find where the fish are sitting. Not to mention the peace and quiet – or at least thinking you’re being stealthy. Land-based and from boats can be just as successful. 

This day, they where sitting on those edges and flats. I did use a 6 weight intermediate line but changed back to a floater due to the depth I was fishing. 

Breeze getting up – time for the drogue.

The breeze picked up a touch so I threw out a drogue, enabling a slower drift along these flats and edges. The next few hours went much the same. Bump… bump… eat! It’s important when bream fishing not to trout strike on the first bump. A lot of the time they will commit to the eat after hitting a few times. Easier said than done when stripping for bream and excitement takes over. But it will pay off in the end. 

The lower estuary Hopkins holds a large number or bream and some really big fish, 45cm plus. There’s estuary perch in good numbers, and mulloway too; all great flyfishing targets. But this time wasn’t my big fish day. Instead, I had countless smaller bream to keep me occupied. 

So now we can get out and fish again, why not try something different? Head to coast and chase some estuary species.