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Bream Fishing with Squidgies

Local Tasmanians don't realise how good their bream fishery is. It is a fishery that has changed little over many years and in fact recent reports have confirmed in some places it is getting better. I am not sure when commercial fishing stopped for bream, but it has been many, many years.

The Scamander River has probably never fished better than it does now and it probably took a trip by Steve Starling and Kaj Busch to make me realise what a treasure we have. Bait fishing has always been the way to catch these wily black bream - Acanthopagrus butcheri, but Starlo and Bushy proved otherwise. They were on a promotional trip espousing the great fish catching abilities of their soft plastic Squidgies. After a session of a few short hours their catch stood at 74 - a record catch for them and one which flabbergasted me. I had always respected their ability, but this was awesome. As all-round anglers there would probably be no better, but this was just hard to believe.
You need the right rod, Steve told me, and the reel must be smooth with a good drag, the boat is important, the Squidgies have to be the right colour and have the right weight. Gelspun, non stretch line is essential to work the Squidgy better and you have to be a very delicate and accurate caster.So I bought the specialist rod, the flash reel I had, Fireline line was wound on and the boat was fitted with the latest 24 volt Minn Kota Autopilot bow mount motor. I spent the national debt on Squidgy colours, stlyes and jig heads and respooled the rell with Fireline (recommended) and the fluorocarbon tippet. I had studied carefully the technique Steve and Bushy had used so it should all be easy. Huh, not likely, it is not as easy as it looks. Let's have a look at some of Bushy and Starlo's tips.

Rod
Rod needs to be relatively stiff and around 7'. This means every little movement at the rod tip is transmitted to the line and Squidgy. Shimano make a special squidgy rod and Loomis have several rods that the serious sportfisher will find suitable.

Reel
On bream the only option is a small threadline or spinning reel. With jig heads down to It really does pay to use a good quality reel. Because if you are using gelspun line there is no stretch and the drag must be super smooth. Normally, if you use monofilament there is a stretch factor of around 25% and the drag is a little less important; the stretching line doing much of the work. So buy a good quality reel with a good drag. Try and get a reel which also has a spare spool; you can then fill this with mono.

Line
Gelspun braid or fused line is generally considered essential; it doesn't stretch and as mentioned above, subtle movements of the rod and zero stretch line ensures every twitch will show up at the business end. Some anglers do go to very light tackle and run down to one kilo fluorocarbon. You can try it, but you'll have to be prepared for the potential consequences of losing fish and tackle.

Leader
A fluorocarbon leader of a couple of metres is used for the final connection as it considered to be virtually invisible when under water. It has a refractive index very close to that of water, hence making it very difficult to see. It is also easier a much better line than gelspun to knot as the final connection. Around eight pound is considered OK, but if confident you can go lighter down to around four pounds. Remember lighter line is always better as it allows the lure, bait, Squidgy or fly to move more realistically.

Lures
We have really
Avocado, jelly prawn and bloodworm


Rigging
Measure the jig head along the tail first and see where the bend of the hook extends to and this is where the hook point must exit. Start threading the hook through the front and middle of the Squidgy and carefully thread it onto the jig head; making sure the point exits at the predetermined spot. It is vital that the rigging is done with attention to detail and that the hook, or jig head is kept dead centre and it exits right on the centreline.

Method
Subtlety and finesse is the key here. A real advantage of using the soft plastic lures is that they can be fished in so many different ways. All depths can be accessed from very shallow to several metres deep. They can also be fished into and around snags. If you can imagine fishing from a boat in mid water back towards the bank you can drop the lure lightly just out from the edge, let the lure drop to the bottom, a little retrieve, let it drop back to the bottom another longer lift up through the water column and you can see the advantages soft plastic lures have over both bait and hard body lures.Try this;
Casting back towards the bank, click the bail arm over take a couple of winds to remove the slack and let the Squidgy drop to the bottom. When it hits the bottom you will see the line "relax', as Bushy calls it. If it moves or twitches lift the rod, it could easily be a fish picking it up on the drop. Now with the rod pointing towards the lure lift the rod through about 90%. This will lift the lure off the bottom and swim it up about half a metre; stop and let it drop again, retrieving line only on the drop; do this all the way back to the boat.      

Mike Stevens