Bream and bycatch
  |  First Published: March 2014

It’s funny, more and more on the Tweed I see folks lure fishing. Even the local tackle shop stopped selling bait.

Interestingly, as a young fellow Dad would take us down to the Snowy chasing rainbow trout off plain homemade lead lures. Back in those days I even had a Stirling 22 automatic gun strapped to my back for rabbits, I would regularly outfish the folks but the rabbits were safe as houses as I couldn’t hit a barn with that 22.

When we’d get back to the Coast the lures would get put away and out would come the bait gear. I often wondered why this happened and now I realise my Dad only liked to fish the fresh and I didn’t have the forward thinking brain that said, “Hey, lures should work in salt too.”

Luring on the Tweed started for me around 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back. It’s all about having fun and learning different stuff. It’s not really like fishing anymore for me, it’s hunting.

One of the hardest fish to target on the Tweed would have to be bream. It’s a pretty hard place to get any over 30cm long. I have to be honest – it took me close to a year to land my first legal bream on lures and of all things I was trolling. (Since then I’ve fished in a few comps where trolling is considered cheating!) I remember reading one of Starlo’s books where he said, “if you can consistently catch bream on lures, you can just about catch anything.” Starlo was right on the money there.

I never fish in one place. I prefer to keep moving, whether it be walking the shoreline, by boat or in my kayak. Yakking is my favourite method as I can take up to six rods with me, from a really light Nordic Stage rod teamed with a Stella 1000FE, right up to a tournament T-Curve with 4000 Biomaster for trevally, but mainly it’s the jack rod. The key for me is to be ready for anything, because fishing don’t always go according to plan.

I’ll give you an example: I was casting a Gulp Shrimp into some really shallow water as I could see some nice size bream on their sides munching away. In I cast with 4lb leader, and crunch. Wow, what was that? A monster screamed out into the middle of the river.

The cold sweat started. This was no bream, and after a massive fight I landed and let go a 97cm lizard. A fish like that was intended for my flathead rod, not my lightest bream gear, but it’s a testament to the quality of gear you can buy these days.

That’s what keeps me breaming. The bycatch is amazing in the canals near PKG’s Seafood. On a recent trip I found it hard to get to the bream as all these little queenfish and giant trevally kept nailing my lure before it could reach any structure. Then of all things I found myself fighting a little GT, got it right next to the boat then zip! Gone.

“Did you see that Dick?” I said to my mate.

“Yeah mate, sharked!”

It was all too quick for me, but yes – a bloody bull shark ate my poor little trev.

So if you want to give this a go, here are my recommendations.

First of all, I can honestly say that you don’t need to spend a fortune. I’ve seen some pretty good bream combos for around the $150 mark. I buy all my stuff from the local family-owned business (Angler’s Warehouse). I prefer this to buying from the big chain stores, because the service is unsurpassable at independent stores like this. Plus it’s always good to get a friendly welcome and personalized attention.

Tackle-wise, I recommend a 1-3kg rod, 4lb Fireline, 6lb leader and a reel with at least 5 ball bearings. You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned rod and reel brands. That’s because it’s not really important. They’re all pretty similar, particularly the top two.

So where do you get the fish?

I’ve fished a few ABT comps on the Tweed with some really good pro anglers. It’s funny, most boats sit out in the Seaway, but the real gun fishos have a little more knowledge. One mate headed up Mur-Bah way (a tip-off from Steve Morgan I believe), saying something about a “big house before you get to Tumbulgum Bridge”. My boater headed straight to the oyster leases near Seagulls. I hadn’t fished them before and quickly busted off my three rods. Babs, on the other hand, had me scratching my head as he skull-dragged legal bream after legal bream into the net. I learnt a lot that day, and he went on to win the tournament.

Trust me when I say there are some really big bream around. Last week I found myself looking at a 40cm horse, but I was at The Ivory Tavern and this particular fish wasn’t hungry for a lure – he was waiting for another hot chip.

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