Shallow Water Bream
  |  First Published: March 2011

Bream anglers are now rejoicing as their favourite luring sport fish are back on the radar big time.

Plenty of bream are finding lures in the shallow lake margins and the broken shell or rocky-rubble bottom areas are fishing the best. Water just under a metre is productive early morning and particularly late evening when the bream bite is at its best.

As the morning warms and lightens up the bream move into slightly deeper water but most of the bigger fish are still being caught in less that 1.5m. High in the rivers, like the Nicholson and Tambo, the bream have been very scarce indeed so for the time being concentrate your efforts out in the lakes.

Hollands Landing and Lake Wellington are still very quiet with scant reports and dirty water.

Bream on hardbodied lures

It’s that time of year again when hardbodied lures come into their own and this is a nice change from the heavy blade jigging of the last six months. It seems every angler has his favourite go-to lure for bream but the common trend is a 4-5cm suspending hardbodied that are worked fairly slowly at first but more vigorously if the fish are playing hard to catch. Sometimes a faster retrieve will invoke an ‘anger bite’ and it pays to always experiment with retrieves when on the water.

Slow isn’t always the go and 4-5 fast rips of the lure followed by a short pause can turn a slow session into a nice tally. The other stand out feature at the moment is that a lot more bream are being caught in choppy water and when it’s calm the bream seem a lot less reluctant to chew on anything.

Another interesting discovery this summer has been the widespread location of bream right across the Gippsland Lakes. The eastern end of Lake Victoria from Wattle Point to Duck Arm is holding fair numbers but almost the entire Lake King area has been producing better catches of bream, as long as you fish shallow water. Jones Bay, Bancroft Bay and the Reeve Channel are all worth a try. Keep moving around and when you hook a few, pull up and target the immediate surrounding area with a systematic searching pattern.

After a few hours of this you will eventually work out the sort of bottom and depth the bream are holding in and then you can start to cherry pick the prime bream holding water. Best of all you can use very light leaders out in the open snag free area of the lakes. You can also expect some by-catch, as recently I’ve been getting dozens of small pinkie snapper from 15-28cm that just love hitting small bream blades.

I’ve also bumped into some large trevally and tailor. The one river fishing well is the deeper parts of the Mitchell River where good bream, around 28-32cm, are plentiful and expect good tallies on bait or blades when you locate the schools.

There are still some carp lurking around and the further upstream you go the more you see. Tailor are again a big problem in this river for us who lure fish and they cost me and a mate well over $100 worth recently. During an afternoon of them chopping off some expensive tackle, we returned 20 bream and at that rate they cost us more than $5 each!

Dusky flathead

What a season for the flathead and it amazes me the resilience of these fish that are constantly exposed to high-pressure angling. The size of this year’s flatties is also a bonus and it’s hard to find duskies under 40cm. I fished the Reeve Channel on a calm morning and the boat traffic was rather busy with the last of the summer holidaymakers everywhere.

Plenty of rods were working the area around me and I saw a few whiting and flathead landed close by. I can only imagine the huge quantity of fish taken out of the area during the last few months and I expected my outing to be a little quiet with the fish probably very gun shy. Surprisingly by lunchtime I’d put together a ripper tally of good-sized fish. I had released over 40 duskies, nearly all of them between 48-60cm, 10 bream to 37cm and 15 pinkies, mostly on Koolabung plastic blades.

I also used metal blades and I never thought in a million years I’d ever declare that any lure other than a soft plastic would catch more flathead, but blades are far more deadly. Richie from Alpine Country in Sale caught about eight slightly bigger duskies and dropped as many, in the same area a few days after me and he was using soft plastics proving that they are still a very good searching lure.

However, I can assure you that a blade skipped along the bottom at speed, will probably double your catch. A few really big duskies have again shown up recently with an 82cm specimen caught in the North Arm and an 86cm dusky landed near Paynesville.

Sadly both of these treasures were not released and stuck in freezers to end up as ugly fish mounts. A terrible waste of beautiful fish when you consider a large framed picture hanging on the wall is more impressive and tells more about your special capture.

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