Bream surface as an option
  |  First Published: December 2005

I have to concede that I love summer (not the heat) for a few reasons and not the least of them is the surface bream bite that develops over the next few months.

You can always draw limited response from the local bream on the surface right through the year, especially during low light. It is, however, a highlight of the warmer-water months when bream habitually search the surface for prawns and small baitfish that try to elude being eaten by flicking across the surface.

It is also the time of the year that the bream stocks are at their widest distribution in the estuary and you can pick your target area. From the crusty upper-estuary snag piles of the local river to the fattening trays of the oyster racks, the bream are there.

The increase in fish, not just bream, in the system and the resulting competition for food drives the fishes’ motivations. With a high barometer and a good tide, generally a run in, the fish can hit the surface all day with premium times in the early morning and late afternoon.

The surface bite is generally in response to the access to areas and the food sources available. Top of a big tide that provides access to fat oysters in wire trays and a surface lure, Squidgy Bug or popper will often get monstered.

The ideal technique is to sight the fish on the trays and cast beyond them, then work the lure back over them. Topwater fishing for bream is frustrating and hook-up rates can often be less than 30% but it the most stimulating breamin’ you’ll do.

Learning when to strike, getting skunked and skipping kilo fish three trays back are all things that come with experience.

Surface fishing for bream can be done up the rivers like the Wallamba, right up to Nabiac. The fish early in the season are generally smaller than on the lower snags but fish from 35cm to 40cm often show up. Fish the snags well away from the water skiers on the Wallamba unless you get there really early.

Lures for this type of fishing include the Squidgy Bugs, rigged with a Megabite hook or a jig hook with no weight. They are cheaper to loose than a hard-body fizzer, Zara Pooch or Heddon Teeny Torpedo – especially around racks.

If bream don’t appeal to you then the carpeting of flathead in the lower lake will be a welcome sight.

One visiting angler spent three days and with his mate caught 80 legal flathead with several over 70cm. I’m led to believe he actually kept only half a dozen or so for a few meals during his stay.

That is the type of responsible angling that protects a fishery for the future.

While January has a lot of water craft on the lake and in every channel, an early morning flathead spin is well worth it. DOA Shrimps, Berkley Gulp and Bass Minnows and the Gulp Sandworms are all worth using, as are the traditional twister double tails and Storm shads.

Fish these plastics, or baits of yabbies, poddy mullet and the like, around the pockets of weed in the lower section and you’re almost guaranteed a flathead or two.

With school holidays here it is worth spending some time with the family on the water and taking your kids wading the flats casting lures is perhaps one of the best experiences they can have on the water.


Offshore it has been a matter of picking your day. Graham Coleman has been getting some nice snapper to 8kg lately.

Plenty of reef species and kingfish are about but not quite as thick as some would like. The mahi mahi can be found in the patches of warm water, which can be quite wide at times.

The baits schools are working down the coast and the bonito and billfish should not be too far behind.

So there are plenty of fish and the bait fishos have no excuse for coming home empty-handed. A few hours on the lake should at least yield a few table-sized flathead.

To get a way from the crowds, try up one of the rivers like the Wallamba, Wang Wauk or Coolongolook.

Late afternoons, when everyone else is soothing their sunburn, are a good time to attack the bream on surface lures or soft plastics. The boat wash has usually subsided by then and the fish get back into the swing of things. This bream snaffled a Bass Minnow drifted onto a lease pole.
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