Bemm River

Bemm River entrance, Steve Cooper

Bemm River is located on Sydenham Inlet Road about halfway between Orbost and Cann River. In estuary terms, this waterway is a superstar, regarded by many as Victoria’s best bream and estuary perch fishery. It may seem remote, but those who prefer not to fish among crowds regard this as a bonus. My first recollections of Bemm River were in reading the late Jack Dyer’s football report in the Truth newspaper. During summer the column changed from Dyer ’ere to the Bemm River report. While Dyer and the Truth are no longer with us, Bemm River is fishing as well as ever.

Bemm River flows into Sydenham Inlet, which is better known as ‘the lake’ in fishing reports from the area. Most people also call the area Bemm River after the township, but the correct name of the settlement is simply ‘Bemm’.

Bemm River built its reputation on bream but is popular with lure and fly-fishing specialists seeking estuary perch and dusky flathead. Other species include luderick, which can be over 2 kg, mullet, silver trevally, tailor and Australian salmon. The beaches can fish well for salmon, tailor and gummy sharks but access to some beaches is difficult.

The estuary covers an area of about 10 sq km and is 4 km from east to west and 3 km from north to south at the widest points. There are two boat ramps, but the only one worth using is at the southern arm of Bobs Bay opposite Bemm River Hotel. The boat ramp has a floating pontoon-style jetty and in 2008, the carpark was elevated more than a metre with 1400 tonnes of rock so that it wouldn’t flood when the entrance to the sea was blocked, as it often is.

Dave Sturgess, who operates Bemm River Holiday Lodge, says that as with Lake Tyers, further south, the opening of Bemm River to the sea is important, especially for anglers who reap the rewards. The lake is shallow, with an average depth of about 2 m. Anglers are advised to take care when the entrance is open due to strong currents, and to be aware that on windy days the water can cut up rough. While this water is best known for its bream, luderick and estuary perch are also found in the lake, where they hunt small fish along the weed lines.

The entrance channel to the ocean at the south-east corner of the lake attracts many anglers. It has the deepest water in the system and is the place to go for tailor, salmon, yellowfin bream and silver trevally.

The river is always worth a solid session for bream and estuary perch, which can be found mooching among the snags in the river and near the river entrance. The challenge after a hook-up is extracting one of these bruisers from its place of residence.

Two things you should know if going to Bemm River: the road in has plenty of ‘grasshoppers’ (wallabies), and if you have a boat you’ll need to bring your own fuel. If you don’t want to tow your own boat to Bemm, hire boats are available from the Bemm River Holiday Lodge.

Surf fishers are well catered for and Pearl Point, Pyoot Bay, Gurnai, Ocean and Binn beaches will all produce good runs of tailor, salmon and gummy sharks.

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