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Spot ’em first
  |  First Published: March 2011



Mention the term ‘polaroiding’ and thoughts of fly-fishing, waders and brown trout mooching among flooded tussock grass springs to mind. But add polarised sunglasses into plenty of fishing mixes and you have the basis for a very effective method known as sight fishing.

Using polarised glasses to eliminate glare from the water’s surface enables anglers to cleverly detect and present offerings to feeding fish from quite a distance. Glare-free vision allows you to spot fish well before you stumble across them, spooking them and blowing your chances of catching one.

But sight fishing is not restricted to fly-casting to trout.

You’ll find various forms of sight fishing right across our angling world.

Whether it’s watching from a jetty as a mullet engulfs a bead of dough, or witnessing a teased-up billfish devouring a live bait at the transom, it is with the aid of a pair of polarised sunglasses.

One popular sport fish that fails to receive the recognition it deserves as a sight-fishing target is the bream. Yellowfin and black bream are readily available and accessible to the coastal angler and can be very challenging opponents.

BAIT, FLY OR SPIN

Bream are subject to all forms of fishing and while polaroiding is generally associated with artificial offerings, it is possible to present a live or natural bait to a bream already spotted.

Bait has its pitfalls and it is common to attract everything but the target. Toads, mullet and undersized fish will swarm onto a bait, leaving bream no chance of seeing it.

Fly-fishing, too, has its drawbacks. Heavy cover and shrub-lined banks can hinder casting, while a boat-based fly angler may not achieve the distance required in some scenarios.

Although these methods are useful strategies in their own right, I reckon a balanced spin combo provides the best approach.

With your selected outfit and polarised eyewear, you can hunt down your prey and tempt it. But there are some finer points to this game and you need to keep your wits about you to succeed.

Whether you are wading the flats, walking the banks, kayaking, canoeing or boating, you need to keep your movements steady and slow.

You can remain stationary but I find continually covering ground will allow you to sneak up on feeding fish, rather than waiting for them to come to you.

TELLTALE SIGNS

The majority of polaroiding efforts are confined to the estuary flats so when fishing these areas look for telltale signs of feeding activity. Small pockets of different coloured sand or mud will indicate where feeding has occurred.

Some bream remain in these crater-like pockets, sifting through their work in search of crustaceans, worms and bivalves.

These bream are known as ‘mudders’ and are very challenging targets. Once a mudder is sighted, you need to keep your distance and present your lure past the feeding fish.

Slowly roll your minnow or soft plastic into the crater and pause it in the strike zone. If the fish does not show initial interest, twitch the lure out of the crater and pause.

Long, light leaders are imperative and small lures are best.

Try to use the wind to boost your casting distance and a slight chop on the water can help you see fish. The wind chop transforms the surface angle of the water, which reflects the gleam of a bream’s silver flanks.

The best thing about polaroiding mudders in the wind is they are harder to spook, the wind chop providing a little cover.

POPPING

My favourite way to polaroid bream is to suck them in to a surface strike. Surface fishing is the pinnacle of fun and the strikes are as visual as you’ll get.

It’s not necessary for polarised eyewear to pop around the flats but to single out a fish or target a pack of bream holding on the edge of structure you’re definitely going to need those polarised sunnies.

Estuary structure includes weed beds, rocks, oyster farm poles, racks and drowned timber. Identifying which one holds bream can be hard without polarised sunglasses.

If you look closely, you’ll see your bream holding or rolling and your approach with poppers need not be as cautious as casting to mudders. Positioning a surface lure anywhere near the strike zone will almost certainly attract an enquiry.

When bream are really on the chew, it is common to get a strike the moment the lure touches down. If not, bloop or twitch two or three times before a pause and watch the bream light up as they spread their pectoral fins and raise their dorsals, sucking, kissing and crunching in a frenzy at your lure – it’s exciting stuff!

I particularly like canoeing along a tide line searching for cruising bream. Tide-lines are identified by smooth water adjacent to rippled or choppy water and these lines usually transport weed, prawn spawn and baitfish.

You can often find big bream patrolling these tide lines and often they are aggressive and will chase a surface lure with gusto.

FINER POINTS

Bream are more active through late Spring and Summer but there are exceptions to the rule. Rising barometric pressure can bring dormant fish on the chew even through winter.

Rising tides are preferable because they bring clear water, which helps spot the fish.

In still water, stealth is paramount. I like to present small lures; big lures can spook wary fish.

When everything falls into place, seeking, sighting, presenting a lure, then hooking up – well, there isn’t much that will beat that!

Facts

SPIN KIT

I prefer rods of 7’ or longer to aid hurling smaller lures longer distances. They should be supple enough to suit the finesse presentations while retaining enough punch to propel lures. I like the Starlo Stix Tournament Pro Flat Spin, which is a two-piece 2.4m (7’11”) rod for 2-5kg line and 3-12g lures. Threadline reels of 1000 to 2500 size should hold 2lb braid and 4lb fluorocarbon.

EYEWEAR

When it comes to polarised eyewear, we’re spoilt for choice with brands such as Maui Jim, Spotters, Mako, Barz Optics and Shimano. Some are expensive but worth every cent. The whole idea is to see the fish so buy the best you can afford! My Maui Jims are comfortable, cut through glare, durable and my eyes feel good at the end of a day’s fishing

LURE BOX

Small lures that carry a lot of weight will be easy to cast but won’t spook bream on splashdown. Try

• Zip Bait Khamsin SR-50mm 4g

• C’ultiva Mira Shad 50mm 4g

• Bassday Sugapen 70mm 4.3g

• Rebel Pop R-45mm 4g

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