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Top tips for bream luring
  |  First Published: May 2010



Lure casting for bream has become one of the most popular forms of fishing this country has ever seen. Given that bream, in one form or another, can be found right around Australia’s coastline, it’s certainly easy enough for most coastal anglers to try their luck on bream at any time of the year.

There’s also no doubt that the glamour of bream tournaments has greatly contributed to this rise in popularity.

On top of that, there has been a plethora of quality rods, reels and lures emerging over the past few years that almost cry out ‘buy me!’

While we’re almost spoilt with an abundance of fish and classy fishing gear, consistently catching bream on lures actually requires much more than pure luck, flash kit and a big pile of lures.

In fact, by far the most important tools that will help you hook more bream are your eyes, ears and brain.

Here I’ve prepared a 10-point plan which will go a long way towards catching more bream on lures, but to make the most of the following information, just remember to keep your eyes, ears and mind open.

The observant angler will do much better in the long run.

1. PROPER GEAR

Choosing suitable tackle is the first step. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending thousands on rods, reels, lines or lures, but I strongly advise anyone to buy the best that they can reasonably afford.

By trying to skimp out and buy cheap stuff you may run into problems such as broken rods, reels that prematurely jam up and lines that snap for no apparent reason.

As a starting point, a decent rod, reel and spool of line for breaming shouldn’t cost less than around $250. However, if you can afford it, aim for something a little higher, say around $400. That will really put you in the picture and tackle failure becomes far less likely if you’ve maintained your gear properly.

After a while you may find yourself getting right into this business and then lash out and upgrade or buy a second outfit.

When buying gear, try to stick with the big brand names rather than something unheard of. I’ve seen a lot of rods, reels and line, particularly on eBay, that are largely unknown brand names. The best advice is simply not to waste your money when it comes to this sort of thing.

2. PREPARATION

Before just grabbing your gear and heading off to find some bream, prepare your tackle and make a game plan.

If fishing in tidal areas, check to see the tides are suitable for where you intend fishing and check local weather forecasts.

Make sure your lures are fitted with sharp hooks that will help you pin fish properly, that your knots are tied well and your leader doesn’t have any scruff marks on it. These are some of the things that can let you down, so a little forethought can get you off to a good start.

3. LOCAL WATERS

A common mistake a lot of people make is to think their local estuary is fished out or second rate compared with other places.

This ‘grass is always greener’ idea may at times hold some truth but it makes much more sense to get to know your local waters intimately. The more fishing and exploring you do, the greater the chances of finding a few reliable bream spots that you can keep going back to.

By doing this you’ll learn quickly without spending extra time or money venturing further afield, which can be a bit hit and miss.

4. PEAK TIMES

Another time-waster can be fishing at the wrong time. As with any sort of fishing, there are good and bad times when it comes to bream, and there are a few basics to keep in mind.

Early morning or later of an afternoon are generally better than through the middle of the day. The first and last hours of daylight can be special as this is when bream tend to spark up and actively look for food.

In tidal areas, a rising tide often fishes better than a falling tide, but around creek mouths or where a lake or river meets the sea, a run-out tide may also be good.

Some less good times to fish are the first few days after a full moon and when we have north-westerly winds blowing. These winds indicate a rapidly falling barometer, which turns bream off.

5. WATER QUALITY

Water temperature and colour are also important aspects of the breaming game. Through the Winter estuary water may hover around the 12° to 16° and through Summer the water will be somewhere between 20° and 28°. Bream can be caught in both cold and warm water, but they don’t take kindly to sudden temperature drops.

So if we’ve had a long period of hot weather and then a freezing southerly front moves through with some rain, water temps will drop very quickly and so will bream activity.

Cold oceanic currents may move into an estuary from time to time and they can also switch off the bream. Look for stable water temperatures and the bream should be happy.

If the water is very clear, bream are harder to fool. Go down in leader size to around 2kg so they are more inclined to hit a lure, or try on a falling tide when the water may be more discoloured and the bream less wary.

If the water is murky, leaders don’t matter quite as much and this is when a brighter or louder lure may be a good idea. If the bream can’t detect a lure near them, they certainly aren’t going to bite it!

6. FISHY SIGNS

Always look for fishy signs such as the presence of prawns, shrimp, baitfish or barnacles, oysters or crabs around the area you’re fishing. If you can’t see any sign of life, either with your eyes or through the sounder, keep moving until you strike some sort of life that could be bream food.

Bream also like structure that provides shelter and shade. Overhanging trees, boat moorings, bridges, rock walls, weed beds and mangroves are some of the better forms of bream-attracting structure.

7. RIGHT LURES

There may be hundreds of very good bream lures on the market these days but you have to use the right types for a given situation.

For example, surface poppers or stickbaits may work a treat over shallow flats through the warmer months but they aren’t very successful in Winter.

Another excellent lure is the metal blade or vibe. These will catch bream at any time of year but you have to be careful not to use these snag-prone lures in snaggy places, where there is a lot of fallen timber or rocks along the bottom.

So before tying on a lure, have a think about where and when you’re fishing. If in doubt, try soft plastics because they are very reliable under a wide range of circumstances.

8. WORK LURES

As good as some lures are, they won’t catch fish without a certain degree of angler input. So rather than simply casting out and slowly winding back in, try to impart some sort of extra action into the lure.

Make surface lures skitter along like real live prawns; give them a few long pauses during the retrieve or make them act like wounded baitfish.

The same goes for other lure types. Mix up your retrieve with short bursts of speed, slow twitches, hops and pauses, to encourage a strike.

9. ON THE MOVE

While it’s fine to anchor up when using bait for bream, when it comes to lure casting the best idea is to keep moving.

It’s a hunting process. You have to go looking for the fish, rather than hoping they’ll come to you.

But once a bream is caught, stay put for a few minutes and lay out a few more casts because there may be more fish in the same spot. If you haven’t hooked another after a dozen casts, move on.

10. KEEP IT SECRET

Although some spots are very well known, others may hardly ever cop any angling pressure and that’s why they are good bream spots.

If you do come across a really good place with heaps of hungry bream, the worst thing you can do is to tell the whole world about it.

By spreading it all over those internet forums or uploading your bream hot spot onto YouTube, you’re inviting many others to fish the same place.

The more angling pressure it cops, the worse the fishing will become. Eventually, your secret hot spot is no more!

Thumper bream like this are a good reason to make sure your tackle is of decent quality and all knots are properly tied.

This North Coast bream fell to a small metal blade fished deep in the middle of Winter. Quite often the deeper areas are where bream will be when the water is cold.

Bridges are very reliable forms of structure for bream at any time of year.

A perfect snag like this is sure to attract bream in small or large rivers.

Snaggy shorelines like this generally fish well around high tide because that’s when bream move into such places looking for food.

A rocky shoreline is perfect bream habitat. Most lure types are suited to this sort of environment, with the exception of metal blades, which are more snag-prone.

Small metal blades work exceptionally well on bream, especially in deeper water. Be careful where you cast them though, as they can snag up easily.

This big bream snatched a scented soft plastic worked very slowly in cold water in the middle of Winter.

A suitable selection of small diving lures for bream. Such lures will catch fish in most situations but are particularly effective in depths from 50cm to 3m.

Surface lures are highly effective through the warmer months but they won’t catch fish by themselves. A retrieve with plenty of stops and starts is more likely to result in a hook-up.

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