Surprise surprise! Just when I thought the bream were going off the chew and concentrating on all things reproductive, they school up in hungry droves!
In fact, just like Canberra at the moment bream are like those crazy pollies, almost shocking us with where and when they turn up utterly unexpected. This trend of the bream firing up in late spring has gained a lot of momentum over the last three years or so and may also determine where you fish during the next month. Let me now explore this trend for you in more detail.
Historically, bream have gathered in huge numbers during late winter in the lower Tambo, Nicho and Mitchell rivers. You can also mention deep lake areas like Paynesville, The Silt Jetties and Hollands Landing in that equation. June and July were the months when bait and particularly lure anglers could stack big tallies of bream. I can tell you that seasonal movement of fish has definitely changed. In fact, we were catching stud bream in upper river snags on hardbodies and plastics right up until August this year.
Just a few years ago that was almost unheard of, but this season the bream stayed upstream for longer than I can remember. More to the point, we all went looking for schooling bream in June and July and failed miserably. Over the last three years the bream have now come together in early spring.
This year the bream first started schooling in mid and late September at Paynesville and the lower Mitchell. I eventually stumbled onto them and was shocked at how late they had turned up and I thought it was never going to happen.
Another new feature this spring is how reluctant those same fish were to attack blades. We had to use heavy weighted soft plastics and 2” Zman GrubZ were almost the only lure effective. They had to be fished super slow and once you hooked a few fish the surrounding bream shut down. Constantly moving onto a fresh patch of fish was crucial. Hooking large tallies has also been out of the question with a score of 20 or 30 fish for a long session about normal. I predict this trend will continue for the next month or so as we follow the fish into the breeding season.
I’ve been talking to more bait anglers recently and they have caught a lot of big bream. Sandworm is the only bait of choice with bream ignoring everything else. A by-catch of mullet is also a bonus with worm.
Those areas I’ve mentioned above are also the stand out areas to target. In fact, the gun bait anglers were telling the lure anglers where to fish.
In my last few reports I’ve been talking about going bait fishing for a change. I finally got around to it and I've enjoyed it immensely. In fact, I’ve learnt more about my bream lure techniques than ever, by using cured and fresh sandworm. The first thing I can tell you is that sandworm is outscoring lures by about 50 to 1 at the moment! That’s been the case for about the last three months. That might not be a surprise to most of you, but it’s quite a blow to me.
When I moved onto the big schools of bream recently I tried my slow grubbing techniques and scored just one or two bream. I got nothing on blades or hardbodied vibes. When I dropped the sandworm bait down to the same fish, bingo! A fish a cast. I used a small jighead for my sandworm bait and it had a profoundly better hook up rate than a running sinker rig or any other bait rig for that matter.
This may be a reverse learning tool where bait anglers can learn a few tricks from lure anglers. I baited my jighead with a single worm, dropped it down and gave it small twitches. The bream attacked it straight away and the added bonus was that every bream was hooked around the roof of the mouth, ever so quick and easy to unhook. Not a single fish was gut or even gill hooked.
I came away from that bait fishing session learning so much and I can’t stress enough at how deadly effective the jighead was compared to traditional bait rigs.
A mate, Brian Lazarro, joined me for the session and we landed close to 80 bream, all caught using jigheads, before we ran out of worm. When we changed to lures for the last two hours, only eight bream ate our plastics and blades. By the way, I’ve used cured and fresh sandworm and I could hardly tell the difference.
For those still looking for mullet, they are still there but catch rates have dropped right away compared to the mayhem of the last two months. I've found the best place to buy cured or fresh sandworm is at Bairnsdale Bait Supply. It’s right behind the local KFC takeaway store and cheaper than anywhere else. Found at a private address 172 Macleod Street and open 7 days a week from 7.00am to 6.00pm.
I’m hearing noises about big yellowfin bream on lures lately and a few have shown up down near Kalimna and Metung. It sort of makes sense, because they breed at different times to black bream and have still been in feeding mode.
I bumped into a big yellowfin myself while searching the areas around Point Turner near Loch Sport. It shocked the heck out of me because at 45cm I had a devil of time trying to horse it in on 4lb leader. After a brief pylon wrapping I was very happy to see this fish into the net! As I’ve often said, the Gippy Lakes yellowfin bream population is growing every year, much to the delight of all anglers.Reads: 2099