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Crankbaiting for Bream
  |  First Published: June 2003



WITH the ever-growing snowball that is breamin’ with plastics, it’s easy to forget that there are other ways to catch them. I’m not talking about bait, but those little hard-bodied lures that many of us have tucked away in the back of our tackle boxes, collecting dust.

A few years ago all but a few savvy anglers thought the only way to consistently catch bream on lures was with a small bibbed minnow. New techniques have evolved since then, but that doesn’t mean we should completely disregard the method. If you need any proof, look no further than Matt Fraser’s win in last year’s BREAM grand final! It just goes to show that when new techniques come on the scene we shouldn’t necessarily throw out the old ones.

Hints

Removing the middle treble can greatly reduce you snag-up rate yet not compromise hook-up rate.

Use the sharpest hooks you can get and religiously check their sharpness.

Storing lures hookless. It reduces wastage of trebles and ensures all hooks used are new and sharp. It also makes it faster to retrieve lures from the tackle box.

Always use split-ring pliers for removing and adding trebles.

Never use snap clips to attach lures, only loop knots.Read on to rediscover just how effective and fun crankbaits can be.

LOCATIONS

An excellent location for bream spinning with crankbaits is in a snag-lined and timber-strewn mangrove creek. Few tools are better for fishing a place like this, where a small lure twitched and tweaked in and over the timber and logs is often all it takes to coax a fish out.

The sight of a pack of competing fish, shouldering each other out the way to get hold of the small lure as it wiggles out of the snag, is the kind of scene that regularly occurs when fishing these kind of locations. During those times when the fish aren’t as competitive or aggressive, a slow rising or neutral buoyancy crankbait subtly positioned and floated up next to a hot-looking snag can get results.

Fishing these popular natural waterways isn’t just restricted to casting lures at these deep-water snags. When conditions allow, one of the most productive methods can be fishing the skinny water sections with shallow running lures. If you’re lucky enough to come across fish in such a situation you can have an absolute ball casting to cruising fish and excitingly watching them veer off their path and head straight for your lure.

When fishing man-made structures there are few better than oyster leases. Those who’ve fished the Forster region know just how much bream love these, and also just how effective using crankbaits around them can be. It can get a bit expensive at times when you lose lure after lure, but it’s all part of the fun – and the challenge is greater when you know in the back of your mind that you could get smoked by a big one!

As well as working down deep under racks, crankbaits are also perfect for seductively working across the top of the racks. Both approaches are great, not only because they’re applicable at different stages of the tide, but because they both put the lure in the strike zone.

Other productive man-made structures include pontoons and jetties. These are plentiful throughout the waterways of Queensland, and are a great place to find a lonely old bream whiling away its years in the cool shade.

When

In most cases a crankbait presentation is a fairly aggressive one, so the best time to use them is when the fish are in an equally aggressive mood. You can find out how much of an influence this can have when you’re fishing around structures like oyster leases and pontoons. In these places, the strong presentation of the lure can be the thing that really pushes the bream’s buttons and gets you plenty of fish.

Another influencing factor can be the amount of current. The old adage of ‘no run, no fun’ can be right on the mark. If the tide’s fairly moving, the bream’s window of opportunity to strike at passing prey is greatly reduced – he has to strike straight away or miss out. Hopefully, for the angler, the fish will opt to strike straight away!

The tidal phases from half full to full and down to half low are usually the best times to fish the mangrove creeks. The rising water gives the fish an opportunity to get in amongst the snags and catch food, and also enables them to access ground that they couldn’t previously reach (well, not since the last tide cycle anyway). And it’s during this period that you get to access and fish those productive shallow areas.

The best time of the year to fish crankbaits is largely influenced by where in the system you’re fishing, the experience you have, and the biological rhythms of the species. This last factor plays a big part, because it largely dictates where the fish will be and what their main food source will be.

LURES

The ideal lure size for bream is between about 2.5cm and 5cm. If you go any bigger you’ll increase your chances of scaring off fish, but the upside is that you’ll have a greater chance of scoring decent-sized fish.

When choosing a lure, select one that has a fairly tight shimmying action, rather than a wide, large, cod-styled wobble. They shimmy also has to be present when the lure is being worked at slow speeds. Why? Because bream aren’t big fans of fast retrieved lures, and they’re definitely not like a bass or GT in their willingness to chase one down at warp speed. Keep the retrieve slow and steady.

You won’t always find bream in exactly the same locations and holding at the same depth, so it’s vital to have a selection of lures that dive to varying depths. Your arsenal should range from deep diving models, which will dive down into fallen timber, to lures that run shallow and allow you to prospect skinny-watered sandbanks.

When it comes to a deep divers, there are few more effective and more popular than the Rebel Crawdad. These lures have been a long-time favourite with bream anglers up and down the east coast, and they’ve probably caught more bream than any other crankbait on the market. Unfortunately, the weak performance of the Australian dollar is making them quite expensive these days.

There is a saviour though – the deep diving Predatek MicroMin. Not only is the deep version a top bream lure, its shallow running brother is fantastic on jungle perch and equally as effective when it comes to tempting bream in shallow water and over oyster racks.

Another shallow running lure making its mark is the new Halco Sneaky Scorpion. This diminutive lure has long been hailed by Kaj Busch as one of his favourites, and there aren’t too many better raps than that when it comes to bream lures.

The range of suitable models on the market is seemingly endless and – most excitingly for the lure junkies – ever expanding. Every time you go into a tackle store there seems to be a new model or colour trying to get you to part with your hard-earned cash! If you want fit yourself out with the majority of bream crankbaits, models and colours available, prepare for tray after tray of lures, and to be poorer for the experience.

And don’t forget that once you’ve covered the crankbaits, you’ve then got plastics, surface, and fly to deal with!

TACKLE

Not very long ago the trend in bream luring was short spin outfits about 5ft 6in long. Nowadays the average length is probably around the 6ft mark, or even longer. There are plenty of suitable models and brands on the market in this size range, from the high-class Loomis and the Heartland X and Z range to more economical models such as the Shimano Stella and the Procaster X. Spin outfits are really the only way to go when bream luring. You could persevere with a baitcaster, but you’re really pushing you-know-what uphill, and limiting you options and capabilities.

The ideal sized spin reel to match up to one of these rods is in the 1500 and 2000 size range. In most cases they perfectly balance the rod and hold more line than you’ll ever need when bream fishing.

As for the line to put on it, the only real choice is gelspun, with 4lb Fireline a proven favourite. You might want to go a little stronger if you’re fishing tough country like oyster leases, however.

Attaching a rod’s length of leader material to end of this main line is essential, and there are many good options available. Vanish and Siglon are two good brands, but there are plenty of others so don’t limit yourself. Also, don’t limit yourself to just one size leader material. Match the leader to the location you’re fishing and the size of the fish you’re catching. A range between 6lb and 14lb should have you covered for just about all eventualities.

Lastly, buy the best and sharpest trebles you can find. Whenever you fail to hook a fish when one strikes it’s probably because the trebles didn’t stick, so keep them sharp and change them often.

1) Pontoons and jetties hold many bream for lure anglers to chase with crankbaits.

2) Hard-bodied lures for bream first because popular when anglers were fishing natural structure such as this.

3) A selection of hard-bodied lures, including shallow divers, deep divers floaters and sinkers.

4) Since its release the Predatek Min Min has accounted for many quality bream.

5) A light threadline outfit, a small box of lures and a willingness to get out there is all you need to catch quality bream like this.

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