I reckon that Pink Grubbing is one of the most versatile techniques you can use when bream are feeding on or near the surface. It’s also one of the most exciting to use or to teach your mates, which has prompted this description. It’s too good to keep to ourselves!
Japanese Ecogear lure designer and pro-angler, Takayoshi Orimoto, first planted the seeds of the technique when he showed me the ‘no sinker’ rig for the popular Ecogear Grass Minnows. Although unsuccessful on the bass that we were chasing that day, the way he fished the lure – a tip-held-high, slow retrieve across the surface – looked so good that it was firmly implanted in the memory banks to be retrieved when the situation arose.
And arise it did on the Tweed River one day, fishing with QFM Editor, Stephen Booth. After a slow-ish morning fishing sub-surface plastics, a tide change triggered a mass movement of prawns in the upper reaches. Schools of bream popped prawns flicking across the surface and we looked for something that’d imitate a flicking prawn. The ‘no-sinker’ Grass Minnow did so to perfection. A long cast followed by a couple of skips imparted by flicks of the rod tip and the bream swarmed over the translucent, pink grub and inhaled the imitation as soon as it slowed.
After a while, confidence with the bait was high… those Tweed fish couldn’t get enough of it. Pink Grubbing was born!
Soon afterwards, we joined ABT angler Tony Payne on the Nerang River canals. With a rising tide and an overcast day, the resident bream were spread far and wide looking for a feed, but as can happen with these heavily pressured fish, they were finicky.
A switch to the Pink Grub brought immediate results. From the back of the boat, the lure constantly got bites when other plastics failed. The technique involved casting the bait as close as possible to (if not up on) the bank and retrieving it slowly across the surface with the rod tip held high. Either one, but usually several bream would appear behind the bait at which point the angler had to make a decision.
If you continued the retrieve, the bream may simply follow the lure until it’s spooked by the boat. Or it might just engulf it.
Conversely, stopping the bait and slowly sinking it to the aroused fish either produced a fish-fight over the bait or a spooky refusal. You had to judge the mood of the bream.
Generally, it’s best to keep retrieving the Pink Grub if it’s a solitary bream, and stop it if a school’s behind it. The fish’s competitive urges would take care of the rest.
One of the real advantages of this visual technique is that you get to choose when you strike the fish. Naturally, you wait until the bream has fully engulfed the bait. Then you set the hook with a sharp flick of the rod tip. If you’re really clever, you can let the smaller bream spit the bait out if a bigger fish is lurking nearby. Sometimes the bigger fish then eats it.
Since, Pink Grubbing has produced in many east coast river systems. Typically you can target more open areas on an incoming tide and specific structures on the ebb. Overcast, calm days are ideal.
Structure fishing with Pink Grubs can also be very effective, as you can make the rig weedless by pinching a small bit of the plastic over the point of the hook. Cast the Pink Grub across, beside or over structure like snag piles or pontoons and retrieve the grub across the structure to attract the fish. As the bait gets to a clear area or shade line, stop the retrieve and sink it down. And watch for following fish.
Pink Grubbing has produced bream on sandy/weedy flats, rocky banks, oyster racks, shady overhangs, natural laydowns, from pontoons and, of course, when breqam are herding bait and prawns.
Why is the Okiami colour the best? I’ve tried every colour in the range and the Okiami consistently outfishes them all. Maybe it looks like a small prawn when you look at it from under the water in silhouette? Regardless, I’ll never be caught without them, and they’re an excellent tool for covering ground quickly. Hookless Pink Grubs are a great way to practice fish for tournaments. You get to see how big the bream are, and not spook them.
And yes, you can upsize this technique for bass, barra and most predators in between. Barra in particular are suckers for a 5” Power Shad, but that’s another story.
RIGGING A PINK GRUB
Rig a Pink Grub properly and it’ll swim like a champion, but get it wrong and it’ll spin like a propeller. Follow these steps to rig it properly.
1. Push the point of your worm hook through the centre of the head and then out at the point where the head joins the body. Make sure that the triangle of the paddle tail is pointing either straight up or straight down.
2. Pull the hook through so that the offset sits neatly in the head.
3. Measure the point where the hook bend will sit by laying the hook straight along the side of the bait.
4. Push the hook point through middle of the body of the bait. If this is crooked, the bait will spin.
5. Check that the bait’s straight and ready to swim.
PINK GRUBBING GEAR
You can use any light threadline outfit to cast pink grubs – tie on a light fluorocarbon leader, an offset worm hook and you’re away. But, like all things fishing, you can maximise your chances of success if you choose the right tools for the job. Here are the preferred tools for the job.
ROD – I like a 7’ medium actioned graphite spinning rod that balances well with a 1500 to 2500 sized threadline reel. The medium action allows enough tip to cast or skip-cast the pink grub where it needs to go. There should be enough strength in the butt to set the hook in the hardest part of the fish’s mouth.
REEL – Choose a 1500 to 2500 sized reel which has a good, infinite anti-reverse system and a reasonable drag. A sticky drag can mean you bust off better bream on the strike.
LINE – Most anglers will prefer fishing pink grubs on a GSP line with a rod-and-a-half length of leader. The GSP is particularly useful if you let the grubs drop out of sight – the leader join is an excellent strike indicator. For a real challenge, try some 3lb Yamatoyo Famell Spinning Fluoro in sight fishing situations. You’ll have to set the hook with a little more movement, but its finesse properties are excellent.
LEADER – To get your grub sinking faster on the pause, use Yamatoyo 100% fluorocarbon leader – from 4lb in finesse situations up to 10lb or more in the oyster racks. Try a light monofilament nylon if you want a slower sink rate.
HOOKS – Offset worm hooks size 2 though 1/0 are suitable. Most anglers prefer a narrow gape as it allows the bream to inhale the grub more easily.
BAITS – Without the Ecogear Grass Minnow M colour Okiami, the Pink Grubbing technique wouldn’t exist! You’ll work your way through at least a pack in a good session, so stock up.Reads: 5010