Bushy the Bream Buster

The bream on lures thing certainly seems to have captured the imagination of anglers on a national scale. I know I am completely sucked in and I know why.  For a start bream are still around in reasonable numbers, you can very often actually watch as they strike or refuse a lure, and they provide a lively fight.  The final clincher is that they are tricky to catch - they react to different lures in different habitats and they require a bit of angler finesse to catch consistently.  Catching bream on lures is a whole different ball game to catching them on bait and I think it is going to eventually be huge in this country. I have only spent a couple of hours in Tassie chasing bream with borrowed gear and lures but I suspect that with a bit of mainstream interest this is going to explode into a big aspect of the sport of Tassie fishing.  Okay, if you are going to try it you need to set yourself up with some effective gear and a few basic techniques to get you off to a successful start.

 The right gear is critical to success.  You will need a light eggbeater reel with a good drag.
You might cast a few thousand times a day so buy a good one! I use Shimano Sustain one
thousands and my favourite reels are Shimano Stellas.  Mentioning these expensive reels
could be seen as a blatant plug because I do a bit of work for Shimano but these reels
    have never let me down and they have been an absolute pleasure to use. I am sure that
other manufacturers also make good quality eggbeaters so you pay your money and take
your pick.  As long as you pay a weeks wages you will probably get a reel good enough to
cope with serious bream spinning.  Which leaves another fifty one weeks wages to buy
food and rent for the family so I reckon that's fair enough.

Next, fill the reel up with four pound Fireline.  Unfortunately I don't work for that
company (although I probably buy half of the four pound Fireline that comes into the
country) but I still find their line does the best job.  The thin gel-spun line allows long
effective casts with small lures, it gives anglers great feedback as to what the lure is
doing and it sets hooks instantly.  The stuff also breaks well over the four pound mark so
you can really pull hard on a big bream if you have to.  Don't hum and bar about it or buy
something you think might do the job - just buy the four pound Fireline in the smoke
colour.  And don't chicken out and buy heavier stuff - stick to the four because it is going
to catch you a lot of fish.  This line is by no means perfect.  It fiizzes up after a while and
eventually gets weak, it can form annoying little tangles, and it is expensive.  Even though
I have a love hate relationship with it, this line has caught me hundreds of bream on lures
and I regard it as an essential part of my system.

You will need some leader material in about twelve pound breaking strain. I haven't
found the type of leader to be critical and I have caught fish on many different brands. I
like Stren Ultra thin which is tough and clear, and some of the fluoro carbon leader
material works well too. I just tie a short double with a bitnini twist or a plait and then tie
that to the leader material with a double uni knot. I like relatively short leaders of a meter
or so.

Rods for bream spinning should be light with plenty of sting.  Some of the more
expensive Shimanos designed by lan Miller are good and the very best ones I have used
are custom made by lan.  The Shimanos are still relatively cheap to buy but you need to
be related to the Saudi Royal family to afford a genuine lan Miller bream buster.  It is
only money.  Whatever you use make sure it isn't sloppy because if it is, it just won't
impart the right wriggle to the lure and you won't be able to feel that the lure is doing the
right thing.  Yeah, yeah, I can already hear you thinking that the rod can't be that
important and the crummy one you already own will do.  It won@t - get a good one before
you start bream spinning.

Bream lures are tricky items -just about any oddly shaped bit of wood or plastic will
catch a few bream but really good lures catch a lot more.  Bream live anywhere in the
water column from the bottom to the surface and I catch them on lures wherever I find
them.  To do this I use hard-bodied lures and a variety of soft plastics. I just don't have  the
space available here to go into all the details of all the lures so I will stick to some basic
hard-bodied techniques that seem to work just about anywhere you can find bream in
Australia.  In the future I might do a bit of a rundown on some of the plastics techniques if
your illustrious editor so desires.

My all time favourite bream lure is the little Halco scorpion with the gold metallic belly
and bright orange metallic back. I do trick this lure up to turn it into a slow floater but
shortly you will be able to buy a factory job that does the right thing for bream straight
out of the packet.  Another good lure is the Deception Palaemon. I like to use Daichii red
chemically sharpened hooks on my bream lures because they seem to catch me more fish.
I use number 12 hooks on the Halco and number 1 0 on the Palaemon.

Bream are funny critters, they are attracted to lures that wriggle like crazy but they
actually bite those lures better after they stop wriggling and slowly float helplessly
towards the surface.  The trick to catching numbers of bream on hard bodied lures is to
throw the lures close to cover, give them a fairly vicious wriggle and then let them sit
long enough for a cagey bream to make up his mind to have a snap.  Bream will certainly
hit moving lures and on some days that method may work quite well, but the old wriggle
and sit is the key to big catches.  You might have to wait five seconds or so for a hit.  Look
at your watch now and see how long five seconds actually is - it's a long time, right?
Sometimes a bream will sit behind a lure for a lot longer than that before he makes up his
mind to eat it but you just have to sweat it out if you want to be a good bream fisho on

Bream are only part time hunters and they don't have huge mouths.  They will attack
fairly large prey items and large lures but the killer instinct really comes out in them
when they see a small creature in trouble.  Through trial and error I know that more fish
can be caught on small lures.  Big bream love small lures even though they will hit larger
ones.  Big bream and any other bream for that matter are much more likely to be hooked
on small lures than on big lures just because they can cram a small lure right into their
mouths.  Once you realise the benefits of the small lure, the rest of the system starts to
make sense.  With the light gutsy rod and the four pound Fireline small lures can be cast a
long way.

Bream are a very aware fish and they are very, very easy to spook. I know for a long time
I vastly underestimated just how timid bream are and it cost me dearly.  Especially in
clear water you have to cast a long way to get a lure in front of a bream that is unaware of
your presence.  They have an uncanny knack of seeing you move as a cast is made, they
feel the vibrations of oars or any banging, and I am not too sure that they can't hear
vibrations from above the water such as human shouting.  Maybe I could be accused of
endowing bream with super senses but that is what I suspect that they do have.  Maybe
Tassie bream will prove to be different but I doubt it.

Anyway it can't hurt to imagine that bream are almost psychic in their abilities to detect
humans hunting them - it can only make you a more effective fisherman.  If you have
oars use them very carefully and if you have an electric motor use it on as low a speed as
you can get away with and as infrequently as possible.  If the water is clear take particular
care when casting.  A lot of standing up and arm-waving as you cast will send bream you
haven't even suspected were in the area sneaking for cover.

Another reason for the light lures is that they drop into the water with very little splash.
When bream hear a splash they generally react to it in one of two ways.  If the splash is
restrained and minute they will go over to investigate in case something tasty has fallen
into the water to offer them a free meal.  If the splash is noisy and obvious they generally
go the other way and lose interest in feeding fast.  Always try to drop your lures into the
water with minimal splash.

Okay, now you know how to set up and how to cast and retrieve a hard-bodied lure to
hook a fish. I guess you need to know where to find one.  Bream can be found right from
the entrances of estuaries up into the freshwater.  In Tassie the bream species is
acanthapagrus buicheri commonly known as the black bream and this is exactly the
same species that I target most of the time in southern NSW.  We do sometimes get the
Australis or yellowfin bream around my area but mostly it is the same old black bream
that you will be chasing in Tassie.  My experience over here is limited to a couple of
hours prospecting in Coles bay at St Helens but I did catch a couple of fish in areas that I
was completely unfamiliar with.  Anglers have been catching bream on lures already for
quite some time in Tassie and I will be very interested to see if the number of fish caught
takes an upward jump once some of the advanced techniques are tried.

In my part of the world at least fish are found most commonly in waters halfway between
the mouth of a system and the fresh.  This varies of course but as a rule of thumb if I was
in a strange area I would start looking in this zone.  Sometimes the main concentration of
fish is towards the mouth and sometimes it is right up in the fresh, but most of the time
the big concentration will be somewhere in between.  If you are looking for fish, clear
water is a help because even if you can't catch them, you should see bream as they go
about their business chewing away on barnacle encrusted snags and rocks.  When they are
chewing barnacles off structure bream often give off a huge flash that you can see for
thirty or forty metres.  As the fish turns away again it may disappear but if you mark the
flash well and sneak up, you should be able to find either that particular fish again or one
of his mates.  If you are looking over shallow sand flats bream often leave holes where they have been digging for shellfish or worrns and that can be a giveaway.

If you suspect that bream are along a particular bank but you can't see them, put your
boat right in close and row or use the electric motor on high speed to try and scare some
fish.  Bream usually respond to this approach by appearing as speeding blue streaks as
they panic and bolt.  You won't catch these fish as they speed away but you can come
back later because you now know where a productive bank is located.

Lastly, don't ignore shallow water, if a bream can swim in it, there is a fair chance that he
will!  Breamjustlovetofeedintheshallows.Ifyouseeanymovementsuchasbacksout
of the water or suspicious swirls check them out.  There are other things besides mullet in
the shallows and some of them are big blue nosed bream.

Well, that should set you up for a shot at some Tassie bream.  The one thing that I really
suggest is that you do it right first time round and go the whole hog.  Buy the Fireline, use
the red chemically sharpened hooks and stalk the fish.  This system really works for
catching bream on lures but it won't work if you only use half of it.  Good luck and if you
get sucked in to bream spinning don't blame me - I did warn you!


Kaj Busch

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