The first decent fish that I caught as a kid was a bream taken on a piece of bread from a waterfront park on the Manning at Taree.
We had pulled up for lunch with the family on a trip home from Coffs Harbour and, like most kids, I wouldn’t eat the crust on my sandwich and proceeded to pick it off in small pieces and toss them into the water.
It wasn’t long until I had a boiling mass of bream at my feet going nuts over the crust. I bolted back to the car, grabbed a handline and within a few minutes had a nice bream of about a kilo flapping on the grass.
Until a few days ago I had always considered it to be a bit of a novelty but all that changed with a few trips rock fishing with northern beaches legend Big Al Bellissimo. I rang Al to see if he would do a segment on my new DVD Local Knowledge and he suggested ‘something using bread bait’.
Generally the key to successful fishing is in sourcing the freshest, most natural baits and, equally importantly, identifying the target species’ primary food source.
So what’s the go with bread ? Its processed human food made from a substance that has no resemblance to any natural food found in the sea. Not only will fish eat it but at times they will go absolutely nuts over it, even when more conventional baits have failed.
Al has taken bream, silver and black drummer, luderick, salmon, kingfish, trevally, bonito and a whole heap of other non-angling targets. I’ve caught bream, flathead, mullet, gar and small jewfish in the estuary.
It seems like that there aren’t many fish that won’t eat bread and, even more bizarre, most species, even bottom feeders will rise to the surface to take floating bread.
Fishing with Al we pulled luderick, four bream including one of 2kg and a 3kg black drummer in one session. All of them slurped the bread off the surface.
Al’s technique is to berley heavily with bread and then fish with small pieces of unweighted bread under a small bobby cork.
Putting the bread on the hook is the tricky bit and it has to be done right if you are to be successful. The crust is stripped off a slice of white bread (it has to be white as multigrain falls apart too quickly).
Then he selects a piece about 5cm square and squeezes one end of it around the hook, forming a dense dough but being careful to leave the other end fluffy. This achieves a bait that stays on the hook once wet but, due to the fluffy aerated end, still has enough buoyancy to stay afloat. Al has tried sinking baits but gets best results when the bait stays afloat. It’s visual fishing and you nearly always get to see your bait taken off the top.
The Harbour is firing. While kings are not in big numbers yet, the average size is way up. We are averaging 80cm fish and there have been plenty caught and sighted around a metre. I even heard from a reliable source that there was a school of about six kings over a metre swimming around the Roseville boat ramp.
Upstream locations are working better at the moment, as is usual for this time of year. Try Middle Harbour and the area around Fort Denison with fresh squid which, I might add, are hard to catch at the moment.
Big schools of salmon are still feeding around the Heads but remain hard to catch. The water temp has just hit 20° so they should be a bit easier by the time you read this.
There are some whopper tailor on the troll at Rushcutters Bay with a few kings mixed in. The kings generally won’t take the lures we are throwing at the tailor but will nail a fly or stickbait.
Our luck continues on big jewfish with another 50-pounder from the Harbour. My regular customer Josh Reynolds landed the beast on fresh squid with a Penn 750 Spinfisher and 40lb braid within sight of the Opera House and – you guessed it – right on the turn of the high tide.Reads: 3460