WITH all the excitement over big bream records of recent times, let’s look back at the first ever ‘grander’ bream weighed in an ABT competition. In the first season the magic mark was set and in the second season the same angler, using a very similar technique and the same lure, caught the second ever grander to be weighed in the live release lure casting only series.
The angler was Steve Moran; the species was yellowfin bream; the technique much the same and the lure was the craw – a tiny soft plastic lure, not unlike our double crawed lobsters (some anglers remove one of the claws on the soft plastic to make it look like a saltwater yabby, but more on that later).
Steve Moran’s winning fish at the first BREAM Challenge on the Tweed River weighed in at 1080g, caught on a micro soft plastic blood red crayfish/craw rigged on a tiny lead head jig. Steve’s technique was to hop the 4cm lure out of the shallows from along the Tweed’s banks with sharp little flicks. Once he worked it through the strike zone he retried the lure quickly and cast back into the mangrove-lined bank. Steve’s three scorers were taken on this rig, as well as some tailor and flathead.
Next season, in 2001, Moran took the circuit’s second grander bream – a Pumicestone Passage yellowfin that weighed in at 1.12kg and set a new Big Bream record. Moran was fishing the shallows at the blind end of a canal, in the vicinity of a drain from a man-made lake, in the Pelican Waters canal estate. He lifted and paused his jighead rigged 1” soft plastic crawfish across the bottom, ahead of the boat. A bream feeding in the shallows took the offering, which resulted in craws catching the largest ABT bream for the year, two seasons in a row.
Fishing craws has received only incidental coverage since then. Fly anglers seem to like them for presenting unweighted offerings (just glue them to a hook) to many species including bream, whiting and flathead. The purist types even remove a craw so that it resembles a saltwater yabby (nipper). The fine detail can be enhanced by dipping a claw into some Spike-It Dip ‘n Glo scent or colouring them with the Spike-It pens.
Larger craws are also used from time to time – 2.5” versions dragged across the bottom on a splitshot rig for bigger bream, and scented 4” versions used as trailers on rubber skirted jigs for cod, bass and barra.
One of the benefits of a good soft plastic craw imitation is its ability to wave its craws subtly when hopped or jiggled across the bottom. Some craws look really lifelike in shape and profile, although this doesn’t seem to be as important as the action of the craw itself.
Selecting jigheads for the craws can be tricky, especially for the small 1” and 1.5” craws often used for bream luring. A big ball jighead with an ‘aggressive’ collar will split the lure and it certainly won’t last as long on the hook. Try the small Bass Assassin laser eye jigheads (thread the lure side-on to start with before aligning it with the hook coming out of the top), and also the small Squidgy jigheads with their wire keeper. Another alternative is to remove the keeper from the jighead, or buy jigheads without keepers, and glue the craw onto the hook. Super Glue works, as do the specialist soft plastic glues that are available. I haven’t seen them in Australia but they’re available overseas.
I mentioned the splitshot rig earlier in the article. This rig is one of the simplest to set up – simply tie a hook onto the end of your leader and crimp a small splitshot weight up the line a little distance from the hook, somewhere between 2cm and 30cm in front of the hook. This rig allows the craws to run a few centimetres above the bottom behind a small ‘pinch-on’ weight that kicks up small puffs of sand as it moves along. Sounds pretty realistic doesn’t it? Just like the real thing.
Craws also prove effective on dropshot rigs for Australian bass and on light bream jigheads when floated down beside oyster racks. When fishing for bream I like to shorten the body of the 4” craw by removing about 2-3cm from the skinny end of the tail.
Bigger craws can be rigged on standard jigheads, and the 4” craws are almost a standard addition to rubber skirted jigs for bass. I like the flat bodied craws. Floating versions of this model are available, as are scented versions. When fished in combo as a trailer on a rubber skirted jig that’s being hopped across the bottom, the craw’s flat body and floating legs flail around in a fish-attracting manner, just like a real craw. As the bass moves to eat the craw arms wave around, and the lure has scent – it’s fairly tempting.
1) Steve Moran and his 1.08 kg bream caught on a soft plastic craw, the BREAM circuit’s first ‘grander’.
2) A selection of small 1” bream craws with jigheads and larger 4” craws. The 4” craw on the extreme right has been shortened and rigged in combo with a rubber skirted jig for bass. The odd shaped craw in the middle is popular overseas as a jig trailer but they haven’t found much favour in Australia.
3) Steve Moran also scored this 1.12kg bream on a soft plastic craw.Reads: 937