Winter techniques for bream
  |  First Published: July 2005

The Sunshine Coast estuaries have given anglers plenty of opportunities as the cooler weather changes our approaches, techniques and clothing. Early morning offerings during the winter months often include bream inshore, squire and snapper offshore and beanies and tracky dacks regardless of the destination!

Stud bream will have by now flooded the lower river systems and the spread will continue into winter. Even the tiniest of creeks will provide some excellent bream angling for those who are willing to brave the cold. Being on the water at dawn or dusk is the key to success; those who surface later in the morning or knock off mid-afternoon are very likely to miss out.

Bream are available all around Australia and the now well-established BREAM circuit has clearly demonstrated the need for both casting around structure and finesse presentations. Small and slow seems to be the key. Although soft plastics have taken most of the glory with lure anglers, small bibbed minnow lures have held their own in many locations. As a committed hard-bodied lure angler, I must say that the run of the mill angler will have more fun with this type of lure. They will slowly rise through the water column when a retrieve is suddenly paused, unlike those wearing a lead hat. During this phase of the retrieve the lure can be seductively twitched from side to side, inviting an attack. At any time the angler can choose to recommence the retrieve, giving the lure a bit more depth. During the next pause and rise, another attack from a fat bream is likely.

A slow retrieve along these lines adjacent to an oyster rack will rarely go unnoticed. However, lure losses are pretty damaging to the wallet in such circumstances, so hang on tight! While there aren’t too many oyster leases on the Sunshine Coast, any structure will hold bream throughout winter.

Good areas to start having a bash are boat ramps, as bream are creatures of habit and succumb to easy feeds at ramps, cleaning tables and waterside restaurants. Boaties finishing their day often dump the last of their bait, as well as the fish frames, at the ramp. During the wee hours, massive brigades of bream swarm in and clean the lot up.

If you do head out at night to target bream right next to a ramp, be careful and stay out of the way of boats coming in or out. A quiet approach and light line baited with a chunk of prawn or fish flesh will very soon see you connected to a bream near any boat ramp on the Sunshine Coast at night.

Small lures, plastics and poppers worked in the same areas will also bring good results, with pink a favourite colour for many lure tossers. Fly angling for bream is also a fun pastime. The great thing about bream fishing is that it is available to anyone, and this is particularly true through the winter months. Plenty of kids catch plenty of bream on the humble handline and bait prawn; you don’t have to go too high-tech to tangle with these fish!

Bream must be at least 23cm in length before they can be dispatched to the chef. This is too small in my opinion and the sooner this minimum is raised to 25cm the better. Rather absurdly, there is no limit to the number of bream you are permitted to kill. While this makes it legal to fill your boat to the gunnels with bream, please be sensible and only keep a few for dinner. Fish don’t freeze all that well anyway, so leave the rest in the water!

Flathead are a regular by-catch when chasing bream. The Sunshine Coast has been fishing very well for these fish recently and they will continue right through the year. While the average size of flathead caught during winter is down a bit on the summer standard, good numbers of fish around 50cm can make up for this.

Trollers have done well in the lower Noosa River by towing bibbed minnows along the drop-offs. The bottom of Lake Cooroibah right down to the river mouth has been a lengthy but productive troll run.

Some months back I mentioned that I had locked horns with the Department of Primary Industry over a stocking issue. Being the belligerent type, I couldn’t take no for an answer and the battle went to round three via a tribunal hearing. This, I was told, was a going to be a waste of time, and some would say that was the case!

However, I believe I made my point. The whole scrap was about the merits or otherwise of stocking saratoga into Lake MacDonald. My point, right from the start, was that the damn things are already there, and breeding. I provided evidence of that fact, which was not accepted as it was not considered to be a scientific study.

Saratoga are slow to establish big populations because they are mouth brooders and surface feeders. This, I believe, makes them susceptible to attack from birds above and predatory fish below.

Anyway, the long and short of it all was that I was eventually buried in legislation. My pleas to the Tribunal Chairman, who gave me every opportunity to push my point, were denied and the bureaucrats once again got their way.

In all fairness to the folk at DPI, they were concerned, and rightly so, with the presence of the endangered Mary River cod both in Lake MacDonald and in the system below the spillway. However, my arguments that the species in question is already present, is breeding and is also very much established in Lake Borumba (which drains into the same system) fell on deaf ears. At least the Chair had the decency to say that the issues raised by both parties were finely balanced before delivering his decision!

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