Haven’t tried it yet? Confused by all the elitist tournament hoo-ha? Don’t be; just read this.
Bream are one of the most common fish available to NSW anglers and they aren’t really a hard fish to catch. What can be puzzling, though, is the never-ending stream of new lures, tackle and techniques emerging from the high-tech bream tournament scene.
Maybe the latest and greatest is necessary to be at the top of the competition ladder but the truth is you don’t need a million bucks and a million lures to have fun casting lures for bream.
If you’re keen to start catching bream on lures or just want to improve on your current results, I hope the following nuts-’n’-bolts information will be beneficial.
I use quite basic gear for breaming and don’t even own a boat but this doesn’t stop me from catching plenty of bream from my local waters. A bit of basic knowledge combined with a desire to achieve results will go a lot further than a truckload of flash, high-tech paraphernalia.
The first and most important piece of breaming equipment you’ll need is a rod and reel. A top-of-the-line Shimano or Daiwa reel is getting up around $1000 – fine if you can afford it – but most of us, including myself, haven’t got a wad of cash to throw around for fish that average less than half a kilo!
I’ve been using an Okuma AV-15 for my breaming over the past two years and that cost me less than $100. There are quite a few decent small threadline reels, all under $200, made by Okuma, Daiwa, Shimano, TiCA and others. They will work perfectly on estuary bream.
The same goes for rods. Look for a light rod about 1.7 metres long with some graphite content. A purely glass rod will work but one with graphite is more sensitive and better for catching bream on lures. Spend over $200 if you like but there are suitable breaming rods out there for less than $150.
If a tackle shop salesperson tries to sell you more expensive gear, ask them will it really help you catch more fish and why will it? Accept all responses with a grain of salt.
When it comes to fishing lines for bream luring, there isn’t a huge range available but it’s quite clear which ones are best. You certainly can use nylon monofilament lines in the 3kg or 4kg class for casting lures to bream so don’t let me or anyone stop you.
The general consensus, however, is that GSP or braided lines are the way to go and I’ll be the first to agree with that. They have practically no stretch and it is far easier to feel a delicate bite from a bream with a high-sensitivity line.
My first choice in GSP line is 4lb Berkley Fireline in mist green colour, which is plenty strong enough to handle most bream. Unofficial tests have shown this line breaks around 30% higher than its stated strength.
You’ll find out why mist green is the colour of choice the first time you cast it out and watch your lure working away – you can see it! The grey version can be almost invisible in low light.
As well as the main line, you will need some leader line. Although it’s possible to catch bream with your mono or GSP line tied directly to the lure, you’ll do a lot better by employing a 1.5-metre length of quality nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon as the leader.
It will be more abrasion-resistant than the GSP so that you won’t keep losing lures when you get snagged or fish near rocks or oyster racks. It also needs to have a bit of strength to help deal with a rampaging bream or when lifting fish into the boat or canoe.
Of course, the big issue when it comes to leaders and bream is how bream see (or don’t see) the leader tied to the lure. Thick leaders that are highly visible may reduce the chance of the bream hitting the lure so the aim of a good leader material is to be strong, abrasion resistant and reasonably invisible to the fish.
Here’s where we start to get into all that bream-tournament hoo-ha, so I’ll recommend only a couple of different leader materials and you can take your pick.
Unlike a lot of other fishing writers, I’m not a great fan of fluorocarbon line but there’s no doubt that Berkley Vanish is probably the most popular fluorocarbon leader material overall.
My personal favourites are Maxima or Siglon mono in 2kg or 3kg class. For most of my central coast creek breaming I stick to 3kg Siglon but if the water has become quite clear or the bream a bit wary I may opt for the finer 2kg Siglon.
When breaming in harsher environments or if really big bream are on the cards I’ll go for the thicker Maxima line.
The simplest way to connect the Fireline to the leader is with a common uni-knot. Tie three to five wraps in the leader part of the knot and 10 to 12 in the Fireline, snug them tight and trim.
As far as lures go, there’s no need to be confused at all because you really do only need a couple of different types to get you started.
Ten years ago two of the most successful bream lures on the market were the Rebel crawfish (often called crawdad ) and the Rebel Crickhopper. They are still widely available and still rate very highly as bream lures so grab a few of these in the smaller sizes. Don’t worry about the colours much, just try what you feel confident with.
I would try casting those two hard-body models first and become familiar with my local waters before moving on to soft plastics.
But once onto the softies, I honestly believe there is only one type you need and that’s all –the Berkley 3” Drop Shot Minnow (also called Bass Minnows) and one colour stands out – pearl/watermelon. These things are so effective on bream it’s almost like magic.
If by chance you find it hard to get the pearl/watermelon colour, the nearest other colour is pearl/olive.
There are more and more types of jig heads hitting the market all the time. My first choice is the AusSpin brand made on the Mid North Coast.
Other jig heads I’ve used include Squidgy, Gamakatsu and Double Strike but there are plenty more. Size 4 is a good hook size to start with and suitable jig head weights depend on the depth of water you will be fishing and current strength.
In still, shallow water go as light as you can (between 1/16oz and 1/32oz) and reserve heavier heads for deep or fast-flowing areas.
Now onto the big issue – boats. You can catch bream on lures by walking around the shoreline or you can spend $30,000 or more on an elaborate bream boat.
If you have the funds and want to fish in style like the big boys then by all means go out and set yourself up that way. There are, however, alternatives which won’t break the bank.
I fish from a kayak which cost me $800. I catch heaps of bream and would prefer to fish from my kayak than a big bream boat.
The silence and stealthy approach from a canoe or kayak is unbeatable in the secluded creeks that I fish. It’s easy enough to pick up a second-hand canoe or kayak for around $500 or less and that will certainly put you in the picture.
A second-hand punt with a decent trailer, 10hp to 15hp motor and lifejackets can be found for between $1800 and $3000 or perhaps less if you’re lucky. Stick an electric motor on it, get a good battery and you’re set.
You don’t really need a sounder for bream but even if you do want one you can add a total of about $1800 for the electric, battery and sounder to the cost of your second-hand punt.
Is the electric motor really necessary? Perhaps not, but an electric provides a low-noise approach to shy fish and is a great boat-positioning tool to control wind and tide drift and allows you to make many more casts at appropriate structure – and put your lure in front of more fish more often. For those casting to shore-based structure like rock walls, snags and weed, it’s probably more important to have an electric than a sounder.
The reality is that this sort of rig isn’t a hell of a lot different to fish from than a $30,000 set-up – the choice is yours.
Structure, the availability of natural food and water quality are the key elements of a good spot to find bream.
Structure can come in many forms; wharves, bridges, rock walls, oyster racks, fallen trees, weed beds or even old car bodies and other rubbish.
Most of the fish I catch are found adjacent to natural weed beds and fallen trees but one of the main aspects of good bream structure is to have shade through at least part of the day, if not all day. Shade can be more important than water depth.
Bream won’t congregate in places that have no food for them. Barnacles and oysters found growing on rocks, bridge or jetty pylons and oyster racks are a bream favourite, as are prawns, shrimp or tiny baitfish found around weed beds.
Mudflats that are home to pink nippers, worms and small crabs also attract bream, particularly on a rising tide.
Bream have a much higher tolerance of variable salinity levels and water temperature than many other common species. They can adapt to change but if the changes are rapid they may shut down for a few days until they adjust to whatever the change has been.
Examples are a sudden drop in temperature due to cooler floodwaters after heavy rains or if cold ocean currents hit the coast and move into an estuary with the tides.
From an angling perspective, good water is generally not too clear, not too dirty and not too cold.
Warmer water is likely to be good but if it’s too warm, say over 27° in the middle of Summer, the bream could move elsewhere. In the middle of Winter water less than 14° could also mean the fish will move on to deeper water or to a different part of the estuary.
Bream really are a year-round chance although some months can be better than others. In my neck of the woods around Tuggerah Lakes, bream really fire up through the Summer months when the prawns are running thick. At this time bream are more liable around the weed beds and fringes of the lakes.
Through the Winter some of the better breaming is available farther up the creeks although they are still a chance out in the main body of the lakes.
From late Summer through to the end of Autumn, spawn-run bream can be quite thick along the rocks and beaches of NSW and at this time they can also show up in big numbers around the lower reaches of tidal estuaries.
At the opposite end of the scale, bream can be difficult to find during periods of really dry weather, particularly if the dry spell occurs through late Winter or Spring. The best strategy in this situation could be to look way upstream where there is a bit more colour to the water.
Bream can be caught right through the day but I reckon you can’t beat being on the water really early in the morning and start casting your lures before sunrise. If you find it hard to drag yourself out of bed then the afternoon period up to sunset is also good providing the wind hasn’t picked up too much. Wind and breaming don’t go together too well.
Tides are another factor to consider. Generally speaking, bream like a bit of current flow and this could mean a making or a falling tide.
Exactly which stage of the tide bream bite best depends on the exact location. This is why you may hear some folk say the first of the run in is the best while others would say mid-way through the falling tide is better.
Don’t be confused by all of this, just get out there on the water and see how results pan out in your area.
In non-tidal lakes or lagoons look for areas that have at least some degree of current flow. Failing that, just concentrate your efforts early in the morning or later in the afternoon. One more thing I’ll add to this is that bream do seem to be more active when there is a bit of rain about.
BREAM SPINNING Q& A
Q: How much should I have to spend on the gear to go breaming?
A: A premium rod, reel and line can cost $1000 or more but you really don’t need to spend that much. $250 can buy an outfit that will be fine for catching bream on lures and you can add another $50 for a few lures to get you started.
Q:Which type of lures are better, soft plastics or hard-bodies?
A: Both types work well on bream but that can depend on the location fished and angler skill levels. Start off with hard-bodies and after a while progress to small soft plastics.
Q: Which is the best lure colour for bream?
A: Any colour lure will catch bream. Some worth trying include greens, pinks, yellows, golds, browns and black. The pearl/watermelon Berkley Drop Shot or Bass Minnow has proven to be highly successful but don’t worry too much about the colour of a lure. It’s more important to simply get out there and cast close to fish-attracting structure and slowly retrieve the lure with a few subtle twitches of the rod here and there.
Q:After doing everything the books say I can’t seem to catch many, what should I do?
A: There are several reasons why you may not be catching bream. Firstly, check that you are using the more popular and known bream lures. Try more accurate casting so your lure lands very close to structure and don’t wind in too fast – slowly does it. Other than that, it may be best to try a totally different stretch of water or even another estuary altogether. Keep persisting and success will come your way.