It’s that time of year again – bream spawning season! The cooler temperatures excite many bream anglers as larger bream begin showing up in our river systems along the Sunshine Coast.
These spawning bream school in the deeper section of the water column, closer to the river entrances, and you need a lot of know-how to catch them during this time of year. They can be tricky to find, and it can be difficult to tempt those larger, much wiser bream into taking your lure. Big bream have definitely seen a few lures throughout their lifetime, so it helps to refine your skills and techniques in order to trick them into eating your lure.
Although winter is a great time of year to fish for a lot of estuarine species, especially the humble bream, these spawning fish can sometimes be affected by fishing pressure. For that reason, getting up early on a cold morning can usually pay off as there is less boat traffic. As a general rule, fishing right on dawn and dusk are the best times to fish.
Having a boat with a good quality sounder is really a must-have with this type of fishing. You will be able to locate the fish in the deeper sections of the river system. Great places to scout around to find these fish are off the edges of rock walls, the deeper channels around the river mouths, and locally known rubble patches in some deeper water. Bream will usually show up on your sounder in great numbers. Once you’ve found a good show on the sounder that you think will most likely be a bunch of bream, it’s time to pull out the winter bream gear and to do a few drifts over the fish while working your lures through them.
There are a huge range of lures that can be used to target these deep water bream. Small profile, lightly weighted blades, soft plastics, deep diving hardbodies and sinking stickbaits should be in every bream angler’s arsenal. Big bream are wise! They will avoid anything that looks even slightly unnatural. So thinking about where you’re fishing, the water and weather conditions is important.
I predominately use plastics for deeper water bream (although other lures can make a difference if the fish are shut down). Having the right jighead size is important, and your choice should depend on the depth you are fishing and the current. Begin with a light jighead that will allow the plastic to drift down very naturally and slowly through the water. Any plastic that rapidly shoots down past a bream’s face will just spook it. Most takes come on a naturally slow drop, when the bream simply cruise along and eat it.
If your plastic isn’t getting to the bottom at all or it’s taking way too long, up the jighead size slightly to suit the conditions. Test it next to the boat to find out how it presents in the water. If it looks natural to you, you can be confident that you are using the right tackle.
The soft plastics I have had the best success on are Berkley Gulp 2” Shrimp in banana prawn and molting colour, and 60mm Squidgy Wrigglers in bloodworm colour. Remember that you don’t always have to use the smallest plastics to catch bream. Big bream will definitely grab a larger meal on offer, and even 3-4” plastics are a good presentation for a large bream. The Berkley 3” Minnows are great plastics for targeting some of the larger bream, and Berkley Gulps come with a great fish-attracting scent which is great for when fish are bit finicky.
You can work your plastics in a number of ways. A deadsticking technique, where you let the lure sink down through the water column very slowly without imparting any action into it, can entice the bream into eating the helpless little prawn or baitfish imitation. Even a dead-slow roll retrieve can work with very subtle lifts of the rod tip. It’s all about mixing it up and sticking to what works best for you.
If the bream are shut down, blades and deep diving hard bodies will often produce the goods. Blades that put out that little bit of vibration can make a big difference. Blades ranging from 1/12oz to 1/6oz, depending on the water depth and current, will work well. Casting out onto the sounded-up bream, let the lure sink through them and hit the bottom, then begin a slow roll followed by a slow lift retrieve. Working the blades like this will imitate an injured baitfish whilst putting out some vibration which will cause the bream to bite. Work your blade over rubble patches, making it knock on the rocks as it hits the bottom to attract the bream in the area.
Deeper diving, small profile hardbodies can do the job off rock walls. Slow roll the hardbody down the edge of the rock wall, knocking it on the rocks. Usually, the bib of the lure will jump over the rocks as it knocks about. This is a good technique for bream that are hard up against the deeper edges of rocky walls and along bridge pylons. Like always, if the fish are quite hard to tempt, fish slower. Fishing a little slower will keep you in the strike zone a lot longer, giving you more time to allow the bream to curiously investigate your lure.
Remember to use light lines, especially in clearer water and/or when you’re fishing for the larger, much more educated bream. Good quality, sensitive braid of about 4lb is ideal. Your fluorocarbon leader should be around 3-4lb, and you should use a good couple of rod lengths to ensure no fish will spook due to the more visible braid.
If you have the chance to get out on the water this winter or go out on a regular basis, put your skills to the test on some deep water big bream. Remember to get up early before the river systems become busy during the day, and you will increase your chances of having a great fishing session. If you’re in the Noosa area, drop into Hooked On Angling and Outdoors in Tewantin, as the friendly team will give you very helpful advice on how to target these big winter bream!Reads: 2006