Part II – Rocks And Beaches
CATCHING bream from wave-lashed rocks or surf beaches is a very different ball game compared with estuary bream fishing.
The Central Coast has plenty of excellent bream fishing venues available to the keen rock or beach angler and here we’ll take a look at some of the better ways to catch these whitewater bream.
Although it’s possible to catch bream on fly or lures from rocks and beaches, traditional bait-fishing techniques are a much more practical way of tangling with these fish. There are, however, a few different ways of going about this. So let’s take a look at the rock fishing scene first.
The most common way of fishing from local rock platforms seems to be casting whole pilchards on ganged hooks. For starters, let’s chop that old-fashioned method right off the list. Maybe it works if there are plenty of tailor around and maybe you’ll hook a couple of bream that way, but ganged hooks and pillies are way too crude for modern-day breaming.
The two ways I go about catching bream from local rocks are by using bread baits fished in a bread-based berley trail or fish flesh baits deployed in a fish-based berley trail. The bread technique catches drummer, blackfish, mullet, trevally and plenty of bream and I generally use this through the Winter. The fish-bait method mainly catches just bream but tailor, trevally and salmon form part of the by-catch. I generally reserve this type of breaming for late Summer through to April or May, because this is when the bream are thick around local rocks.
The same type of outfit can be used for both styles of breaming. This consists of a lightweight rod between 3.0 and 3.6 metres long, matched to about a 4000-size threadline spooled up with 4kg to 6kg mono or 6lb to 10lb Fireline. The rods I favour are built on Pacific Composites blanks but there are plenty of suitable rods around from several major brand names.
Apart from the rod, reel and line, you’ll need a small box of sinkers and hooks and perhaps some swivels and leader material if you’re using braided line. Sinkers need to be only pea-sized ball models and maybe some split shot might come in handy, although sometimes you can simply tie on a hook and away you go.
The main type of hook I use for the task is a No 4 Gamakatsu Baitholder, although similar patterns and sizes should all hook bream as long as they are nice and sharp.
You don’t have to use berley but when it comes to breaming success, it does make a difference. An ideal type of berley is a single bonito or small tuna frame roped to the rocks in such a way that it dangles just on the waterline so wave action slowly breaks it up. Ideally, one fish frame should last about 40 minutes. I think it wasteful to rope more than one frame at a time and, really, bream don’t need a lot of berley to get them going.
A tip here is to rope the frame through the eye sockets rather than the tail as the thin tail can break and your remaining berley will simply float away.
Once you’ve got the berley fixed up, it’s time to bait up and cast out. Fillets of bonito or small tuna have previously been cut up into bait-sized cubes and salted to toughen them up, although freshly caught bonito or frigate mackerel still works well.
Other baits, like tailor flesh or cut pilchards, are another option, although bonito is my favourite.
Casts should be carefully placed not far out from the rocks you’re standing on and preferably under a bit of whitewater adjacent to a deep hole, gutter or point. A major pointer here is don’t try to avoid getting snagged, as this train of thought will only lead towards casting away from where the bream are likely to take your bait. Get in close, but don’t just let the bait sink down until it does get snagged.
This is active fishing, so keep the line tight and be ready for a bite and if that doesn’t happen within a few minutes, wind in and repeat the process. A lazy approach to this style of fishing simply won’t work, so you may as well forget it and go back to those hideous ganged hooks and pillies!
Similar theories apply when using the bread method – keep baits in close to the rocks or under some wash and don’t worry about snags, just think about hooking the fish. The same type of rig, with a small sinker running freely up to the hook, can be used, although I also drift baits under a float, especially if blackfish are on the cards.
Floats are also handy when fishing over shallow, reefy spots, because the float can drift farther out, covering a greater area with each cast. Always keep in mind that the bait shouldn’t be too far away from solid structure. If it drifts out into open water away from rocks or reef, there’s still a chance of a fish but it starts to become less likely.
Rigs are shown hereabouts and although I recommend a small bobby-style float most of the time, a running stem float is an alternative. Those stem floats with a bit of weight attached to the bottom of the stem aren’t a bad idea as they aid with casting and can be a bit more stable in the water in a turbulent, washy spot.
So where are some of the top spots to catch bream on the Central Coast? Almost anywhere. Just look for a combination of safe rocks and a bit of whitewater. Rocky outcrops at the ends of beaches are always worth a try, as are prominent points, holes or gutters that cut into the surrounding rock ledges.
Some of the better places to start looking are Catherine Hill Bay, Snapper Point, Wybung Head, Pelican Point, Bateau Bay, Wamberal, Terrigal and Avoca.
Prime times for bream are on a rising tide around the morning or afternoon, although they will bite well in the middle of the day or through the night if conditions are to their liking. I haven’t had much luck with bream when a full moon lights up the sky but if the moon is obscured by thick cloud cover it may be OK.
As for rock fishing, you can throw away those ganged hooks and pillies if it’s bream you really want to catch from the beaches. Good-quality pilchards are, however, a good bream bait at the beach if used with a single hook. Other top baits for beach bream include fresh tailor, mullet or bonito flesh, mullet gut, beach worms, pipis and peeled prawns. Pink nippers are another good bait, although they can be a bit soft and if smaller fish are around, they won’t last too long on the hook.
The same type of rod and reel combo that I recommended for rock fishing will serve you well at the beach, although a light Alvey sidecast may be more practical for some anglers. Four-kilogram line running straight to the hook is right on the mark for beach bream but yes, I know, tailor will very quickly bite through such thin line. We are fishing for bream here, but if tailor do move in, stick with the single hook-idea but try a long-shank pattern and perhaps a 8kg to 10kg trace of hard-wearing line like Schneider or Maxima.
As they do off the rocks, beach bream like a bit of whitewater over their heads and are attracted to specific features. At the beach these features are the edges of deeper holes and gutters, areas of rock, gravel or reef, corners where sand meets solid rock and along the shoreline itself. Visually obvious pipi beds are another indication that you could be at a decent bream spot.
Again, a rising tide in the morning, afternoon or at night generally produces better results. Because sea breezes generally pick up in the afternoon during Summer, a morning session can be easier to fish.
Remember, too, that if you use baits like beach worms, pipis, fresh prawns or pink nippers, other species like whiting, trevally and flathead are on the cards, making for a nice mixed bag of fresh fish – good on the dinner plate!
Some of the better beaches for bream include Frazer, Budgewoi, North Entrance, Wamberal, Putty and Ettalong, but no stretch of sand on the Central Coast should be overlooked.
No rubbish, please!
Take all your rubbish with you when you leave the rocks or beach. It’s very easy to bring along an old plastic bag with you to stuff your old bait packet or drink bottles in.
Over the past few years some of the more popular fishing spots have been covered with rubbish and it’s about bloody time we all chipped in to keep our environment clean. A clean fishing spot is a good fishing spot!
This bream fell for a fresh piece of tailor at North Entrance Beach. Forget ganged hooks and pilchards for bream along local rocks and beaches, a single hook is far more effective.
This gutter at the southern end of the Big Avoca rock platform can turn on some good breaming at times. Some berley will always help bring the fish around.
Bread bait suspended under a small float and fished in a bread-based berley trail will certainly catch bream, but such tactics often lead to mixed bags including blackfish and drummer.
Bream at the beach generally become more active as the tide is rising and the sun is going down. Top baits for beach bream include fresh bonito or tailor flesh, beach worms and pipis.
A small pile of pipis like this is all you need to catch a few bream from the beach. Pipis can be found along most beaches, although Birdie, Budgewoi and North Entrance are reliable places to start looking.
One of the best types of bream berley you could ever use from the rocks is a bonito or small tuna. The carcass should be roped through the eye sockets and suspended in a washy spot close to where you are fishing.
Rig for float-fishing with main line of braid.