Sight fishing for bream in clean salty water
  |  First Published: May 2017

It’s the ultimate in bream fishing when you can watch fish and their every move while catching them. It can also be frustrating to see them ignore everything you put in front of them! With no significant rain for nearly three months now, the Gippy Lakes are in prime condition for bream and flathead sport.

Sadly the kingfish have stayed rather elusive except for a few down near Lakes Entrance. Tailor, big trevally and juvenile snapper are still thick from Metung to Kalimna. First up I want to talk about fishing jetties land-based.

Bream around the jetties

April and May every year see bream feeding high in the water. They’re easy to find around jetty pylons and tucked right up under boat hulls. I’ve just spent four days at Paynesville targeting all the moorings in Newlands, Duck Arm and particularly Paynesville and Raymond Island. I found the best method was to get out of the kayak and work the jetties on foot. I walked up very slowly and approached each jetty almost on hands and knees.

Big bream were so easy to see just milling around close to structure or under boats and I had to try and cast to them before they could see me. I used mostly unweighted 2” plastics, which are light and hard to cast accurately. It’s fair to say I spooked a lot of bream and most of the cranky buggers would follow but refuse to eat. Gradually I worked them out and starting hauling in some ripper models from 35-43cm.

I had to work up to 10lb leaders because 6 and 8lb line were no match for the mussel coated pylons. The only downfall of fishing jetties on foot is that you are fighting big bream right in amongst the structure, unlike in a boat or yak, pulling them away from danger. The upside is that you can sight fish to big bream and watch them, learn from them and adapt your retrieve by their every positive or negative reaction.

Eventually I was hooking one or two big bream from about every second jetty. It was a little slow going, but so rewarding. I quickly learnt that once a bream was hooked most of the other fish would shut down, so quickly moving to new jetties was a must. In fact when you leave a jetty and look back into the water, the bream disappear into the depths. They are smart and evasive fish. This only adds to the challenge and reward.

On the last morning my partner Leanne joined me for some stealthy jetty work and we saw hundreds of bream in all sizes. We fished over a dozen jetties and even caught the ferry across to Raymond Island. She was so keen to get her first bream on a lure but after five hours and her pulling out of four good fish, we threw in the towel! I only landed two but was so proud of her perseverance.

It’s a tough gig not meant for all. Jetty bashing is quite intriguing when you can see every fish you cast to and often gut-wrenching, because you also see bream panic then run and hide with just the slightest movement of your lure.

We bumped into a savvy local bait angler. Andrew was dropping unweighted prawns around these fish and pulling up some impressive bream to 42cm. In the weeks ahead I can’t help but think live shrimp would be an even deadlier bait to work the jetties with.

Bent Minnows on the surface

I teamed up with Mickey Dee on the Mitchell River recently and we threw Switch 66 surface lures at first light. We landed five small bream and missed as many before sunrise. Soon after we had to use blades and soft plastics to put a modest tally of 16 bream together before we gave up at lunchtime. The next day I joined Justin ‘Dinga’ Dingwall on the Nicholson and we threw bents once again before sunrise.

I had two big boils under my lure and missed a bream hook up after a noisy slurp. Dinga watched my near misses while rigging up and then nailed a 28cm bream with his first cast and first twitch of the bent minnow. I hate it when he does that! As far as surface action that was it for both of us. We then peddled the kayaks about 5km upstream that day and although we only caught a handful of bream each at least, a few went 40-42cm.

We had to eventually fish light weighted small plastics to get them chewing after they totally refused hardbody lures. Once again we saw hundreds of bream of all sizes in the super clean salty water. None were really in the mood for eating. Slow frustrating action and cranky shut down bream have been common for most of the last four weeks or so. I’ve had a dozen or more other keen bait and lure anglers reporting the same.

Probably the most success was with anglers using hardbody lures out on the Mitchell or Nicho flats or at the mouth of the Tambo when the wind started pushing a few waves up. Bream get lockjaw at times when conditions are calm.

Blade time

Looking ahead I’m certain the bream action will start to fire up big time. Of course it will! I’m an ever-optimistic, hopeful and positive angler, just like you! It better improve, because I’m running real low on hair to pull out.

The good news is that bream are starting to head into deep water and these fish are typically not as fussy with lures or bait. A few of us have finally scored some big bream to 44cm on blades in water from 3-4m in depth, especially using Sting 37 blades in any of its black coloured types. Hotspots at the moment, and certainly into this month, include Hollands Landing and the lower Tambo or Mitchell rivers.

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