Bemm River is famous for bream fishing and anglers travel from near and far for a chance to land a big one. Methods vary depending on the style of fishing you are contemplating. Although there is a new fishing platform in Sydenham Inlet, access from the shore to the inlet is limited to a few places. Fishing is most productive from a boat. The inlet is relatively shallow and is best suited to boats about 3.7 to 5 metres. Bigger boats can be difficult to use when the Inlet is open to the sea as they are awkward to launch and are more prone to run a ground. Boats can be hired locally and, for details, click on the Bemm Accommodation page and look near the bottom of the page under Other Businesses. It is best to make sure you have organized a boat before you arrive. With the new raised car park there will no longer be flooding of the car park and the landing ramp at the Main Jetty will still be in use. Care should be taken in rough weather. Back ropes are recommended in rough weather when launching and retrieving your boat. Seek advice if it looks like being rough and you are using the Fingerling Jetty. If it becomes too rough while you are over in the Channel, do not attempt to come across the Inlet in a smaller boat as you may get swamped. There is a hut over at the Channel mouth designed to protect you from the weather and so stay there until the wind drops. If you are stuck there, you should use a mobile phone to contact your accommodation house. If your phone does not work because you are with another phone company, phone 000 and you will be referred through Telstra. Please do not attempt to cross the Inlet as there has been one capsize in recent times which turned out to be fatal. When the Inlet is open to the ocean, the water level in Sydenham Inlet can result in the sand bars being covered by only a few centimeters of water or even becoming exposed. If the water level is low you may be required to get out and pull your boat across the sand bars in to the river or to Swan Lake Channel.
Above is a photograph of Bob’s Bay when the water is low. Note the Sand bars over which one can normally boat with ease.
The traditional method of fishing at Bemm River is to use bait and this normally requires the boat to be at anchor, whereas fishing with lures, plastics or vibes requires the boat to be moved easily. When the water is shallow it is typical for bait fishermen to use two poles to anchor. One pole is pushed into the bottom ( typically mud) and the boat is tied to it. After the boat has swung around to face the wind, the back pole is pushed in and tied to the back of the boat. This provides a stable boat to fish from. The Poles are typically borrowed from your accommodation house and are typically small gum tree saplings. Several people have aluminium poles specifically made for the purpose. One can use anchors but it is difficult to fish with tight lines as the movement will drag the bait and often burry it in weed. If you do use an anchor, it is typical to use a back anchor, such as a heavy weight, to prevent the back of the boat from moving around. It is also typical to use a slack line method when using anchors. Baits vary but include prawn, sandworm, shell, mullet, chicken strips and yabbies. Fresh bait is best but if you use frozen bait keep it fresh. Peeling the dead prawn is recommended. The tail of the prawn has the outer shell removed but the head is left on. The tail is threaded on the hook first and the head is finally secured with the bend in the hook. This requires a hook of 1 to 2/0 to be used. You are fishing for bigger fish so you don't catch the small ones on these larger hooks.
The common gear for bait fishing at Bemm River is an egg-beater reel with 6-8 lb line and a light rod. Nylon line is preferred for bait fishing as the braid has very little give and the bream tend to drop the bait. The terminal tackle is a running sinker to a hook of size 2/0 to 4 ( the first diagram below shows a typical running sinker). If you do not do any good, move and keep moving until you find some fish. Ask if you need help. People are good at telling you other people's favourite spot. The shop, the Pub and your accommodation house are good sources of information.
River Fishing from the Bank
There are several places to access the Bemm River either at the back of the farm through the walk way provided or from the road into town at Dolly’s Garden, the bridge and the barrel drain. Above the waterfall near the bridge, the river is fresh water and trout and bass are sought in some of the upstream rugged valleys. Bream fishing in the river can be productive when the bream are spawning and a running sinker to a bait is typically used. See above for details of the rig and typical gear.
Surf or rock fishing is possible south west of the town by a short road tip toward Pearl Point or by boating across the inlet to the channel and surf fishing at the blowhole or at the mouth. When surf fishing for salmon, there are two different styles you can use. The first is to use bait. This typically involves using a paternoster rig (shown in the second figure below) with two bait droppers. The upper dropper uses a popper and the lower dropper uses a bait such as white bait or pilchards. The idea of using a popper is that it does not get eaten by crabs or lice and usually catches most salmon. Poppers are available from the shop. The other method involves casting lures and again the shop is the best spot to find out which one is working best. Usually a metal style plug is used and they are let to drop after casting before jerking a few times and then retrieving. The photo below shows a salmon caught on a metal plug on the beach near the entrance.
A typical running sinker rig for bream. A paternoster rig for the surf. A salmon caught on a metal lure.
You can also fish for gummy shark which usually requires a night fishing expedition. The best bait is probably eel for gummies and you fish on the full moon on a rising tide. When they are on, it is common to catch a few each trip.
You are not permitted to use a 6m bait net for prawns or bait in Sydenham Inlet. - special regulation late in 2010 and 2011.
Changes have occurred in the fishing regulations from 2 March 2009 and November 2012. The main effects on Bemm River are :
Bream (all species) : Minimum Legal Size 28 cm and Bag /Possession Limit :10
Dusky Flathead : Minimum Legal Size 30 cm and Bag /Possession limit : 5 ( no fish may equal or exceed 55 cm in length) These are new regulations implemented in November 2012 with an upper limit as well as a new minimum size.
Estuary Perch : Minimum Legal Size : 27 cm and Bag/Possession Limit : 5 ( of which no more than 2 can be Australian Bass)
Luderick Minimum Legal Size 23 cm and Bag /Possession Limit :10
Taylor : Minimum Legal Size 23 cm and Bag /Possession limit :20
Prawns : No Minimum Legal Size and Bag /Possession limit :30 litres of whole prawns or 5 litres of meat.
The following diagrams from the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide 2013 show you how to measure your fish lenght. It also indicates that you can clean scale and gut your bream before you come in with your catch but you cannot fillet them or remove the head.
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