Breamin’ that Hits the Spot
  |  First Published: October 2005

It wasn’t until I fished last year’s AFC series that I realised the true importance of putting a lure into the right zone. Sure, I’ve always tried to cast as closely as possible to the target. In most scenarios this is quite simple, using a standard overhead casting action with a spin casting outfit.

However, as I learned from bream and casting guru Adam Royter, you can take pinpoint casting to a far higher level. Picking the tiniest of gaps and skimming your lure far into the shadows can guarantee better results. Basically, the harder the spot is to cast at, the more chance there is of a bream hiding in there. At times you can allow the current to whisk your lure away and take it right into the honey hole. Then there are those times when you are fishing away from the current and casting accurately is the only way to achieve success.

When fishing, there is no place with more obstacles than moored boats. The maze of fenders, ropes, carpet and the pontoons all hinder casts from reaching the best zone. The Gold Coast’s canal systems offer plentiful structure, which is a breamer’s dream. This is a great place to hone your casting skills and have some fun along the way. Let’s take a look at how you can reach those bream that are right in tight, holding against the cover or sitting in the shade of pontoons, docks and boats.

Boat Positioning

An electric motor doesn’t only manoeuvre you quietly between spots; it can help you to get your boat in the best position before you deliver your first cast.

Sometimes you can lob a cast into the shade of an empty pontoon or moored boat and get the fish to come out and play. On most occasions though, the bream seek more shelter and prefer to hold in the gaps between a boat and pontoon, or even under the pontoon – especially if there are gaps in it.

Bream schools holding on this type of structure are very social fish. By this I mean they react quickly to their mates’ conduct, so that if a bream is hooked or even spooked by you or your lure’s presence, it will affect the entire school’s behaviour. Give yourself the best chance and have your boat positioned right, to show the lure to as many fish as possible when the cast is delivered.

The Bow and Arrow Cast

This is a good cast to use when accuracy is a must. It also comes into play when you are limited for room and are looking straight down the line you want your lure to travel. Although it doesn’t provide a lot of power, it positions the lure in the right spot.

1. Open the bail of the spin reel and allow the lure to drop so that it hangs between the reel and the first guide (stripper guide).

2. Hold the line in this position by extending the pointer finger of the hand holding the rod so that it rests against the rim of the spool on the reel (releasing this finger releases the line).

3. With your other hand, take the jig hook between the pointer finger and thumb. Grip it tightly, ensuring the point of the hook is exposed and won’t dig into you.

4. With the rod parallel to the water, extend the casting arm and pull the hand holding the lure back to load the rod.

5. If the line is directly below the rod you can look down the rod as you point it at the target. Don’t overload the rod as this could end in disaster.

6. When you release the hook, the pointer finger should be taken off the spool a fraction after the lure is released to allow the lure to shoot like an arrow straight towards the target.

Tip: The angle of the rod will affect the height of the cast. If you bring the tip closer to the water, the cast will be angled down and can be skimmed under obstructions like ropes and catamaran hulls.

The Backhand Skim Cast

This is a powerful, low trajectory cast that can be skimmed a mile. It’s useful when reaching around corners as it means you don’t have to take the boat right in to have a direct path to the target when casting. The disadvantage of this cast is that it can be less accurate than the bow and arrow cast.

1. With the lure close to the rod tip, open the bail of the reel and extend the trigger finger on the casting hand to the rim of the spool.

2. Take your casting arm across your body and have the rod pointed almost at right angles away from your target.

3. With the tip about 50cm from the water, the back of your hand should now be facing the target.

4. Using a wrist action, roll the tip of the rod through a tight circle. A right-handed caster would perform an anti-clockwise circle with the rod tip.

5. As the lure swings down and starts to head for the target, use your wrist and arm to flick the rod through, at the same time releasing the lure.

Tip: As you punch the last part of your cast out, keep the rod tip close to the water. This low trajectory delivers a low cast that can skip the lure for several metres. When perfected, you should be able to skip a lure the entire length of most boats moored against pontoons, even if the gap is only 20-30cm wide. Attacking a gap from the bow of a boat gives you a better chance of nailing the cast because of the shape of the hull.

The Forehand Skim Cast

This cast is basically a reverse of the backhand skim cast. It is harder to keep a low trajectory and get the lure to skim as far or as accurately. It’s handy to reach out and flick a lure around a corner without manoeuvring the boat so you have a direct path to the target.

1. Hold the rod at about right angles to the target and close to the water.

2. Use a circular wrist action to roll the tip of the rod around and as the lure comes through, punch it towards its mark.

Tip: The angle at which you punch the rod through will determine the angle of the lure’s path. If you are after a silent entry, cast past your target without skimming and feather the rim of the spool with the pointer finger used to release the line.

Outfit Selection

It is important to choose the right type of outfit so you get the most out of it for your style of fishing. When casting bream lures, I use a range of Strudwick 6’6” and 7’0” spin rods teamed with Shimano 1000 sized reels. Though I use these as bass outfits, they perform the task well.

Any graphite spin rod with a rating of 1-3kg or 2-4kg should be able to deliver the casts. It is often better to go for a mid-modulus graphite rod which, luckily, is cheaper than the high modulus type. These rods can better handle the stress placed on them when bow and arrow casting. Put simply, a mid-modulus rod will be more flexible and less brittle.

For a long time, Berkley Fireline has dominated this and other styles of lure fishing. There are other light fused and braided lines on the market but few come close to the quality of Fireline. A full spool of 4lb topped with 2m of fluorocarbon leader, such as 6lb Vanish, will provide optimum performance. The thin 4lb comes off the reel smoothly and easily, making it easy to cast the light lures used when bream fishing.

Lure Selection and Rigging

Soft plastics are the best ammunition as they are the easiest lures to skim and flick into tight holes. Lightness is the key: a soft plastic rigged with a light jighead will best perform the task. When you need to fish deeper or close to the bottom under the structure, go for a light wire 1/16oz head or something similar.

TT’s Hidden Weight Systems and Nitro’s Torpedo heads are lightly weighted hooks where the actual weight is merely a keeper hidden inside the body of the plastic. These jig hooks are ideal, offering a slow falling presentation that stays on the hook and can handle the abuse of skimming well. These hooks are my first choice when fishing high in the water column and close to the structure.

The best plastics for skimming are those with nice flat bodies, such as jerkbaits. Curl-tailed grubs and shads, on the other hand, don’t work well because they bite into the water on contact and rarely skip far or straight. The popular 3” Berkley PowerBait does the trick nicely – they skim quite well, are biodegradable and also cheap. The best by far is the 3” Berkley Gulp Minnow; I rarely use anything else when tossing lures at this type of structure. The Gulps have a fishy scent and a slimy coating that helps them skip a mile and are also a bit bulkier in the body than standard jerkbaits, which gives them a bit more weight to aid in casting.

The Retrieve

Once the lure is in the zone, the bream don’t take much enticing. Give it two or three seconds of pause and slack line then a few small twitches. Pause again and take in most of the slack line before giving a few more twitches. Do this until you’ve worked the lure right out of the fish-holding cover.

Always watch the line for any indication of a fish and treat every twitch in the slack line as a bream hit. I’ve found the best way to hook bream when they hit is to wind slowly until all the slack is gone. When you feel some weight, keep winding a few more turns and if the weight is still there, set the hook with the rod or take a good fast turn on the reel to do it for you. At any stage you feel the weight drop off, let the lure sit for a while and go back to the twitching, pausing retrieve.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

The bream targeted when fishing in this style will usually be sitting up high in the water column. A good pair of polarised sunglasses will cut the surface glare and help you to spot fish and their shadows so that you can deliver your cast right to them.

Placing a cast right in the spot you’re aiming for is almost as rewarding as catching a fish. I find this challenge is what adds to the appeal of bream fishing and of course, you can take this technique and use it on natural structure and other species as well.

Next time you head out breamin’, I wish you all the best and hope that you hit the spot.


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