During the BREAM finals series this year I learnt a new (to me) technique. I can’t claim it to be my own and by no means is it new, but damn, does it work.
Fishing the Classic Teams Grand Final with David Poulton on the Gold Coast, we were met with an uncharacteristically (according to the locals) tough bite fishing the canals of the Nerang river. Our prefish yielded a few fish, but with no distinct pattern to the bite. A solitary fish here and another there, caught using various techniques, resulted in us having no real plan and returning to the weigh in on the first day with a big fat donut!
Dave and I both set pretty high expectations of ourselves, so I think I can safely say that we were pretty disappointed with our efforts. We went back to our accommodation and had a bloody good long hard look at ourselves… I also spoke to Steve Morgan that afternoon, and true to his “who shares wins” philosophy, he was happy to tell me how he and Scotty Towner had caught them – targeting the sandy banks in the canals with unweighted Ecogear Aqua Bream Prawns rigged on worm hooks.
So the technique? Well one thing we did work out during the pre fish and the first day, was that the fish we did find, were in the short arms of the canals that are associated with the main river. Unfortunately we had targeted the pontoons with minimal success. Armed with these little tit bits of information from Morgo, we devised a plan for the second day that resulted in success almost straight away. Interestingly, but unknowingly, we pulled straight into an arm of the canals not far away from Steve and Scott, and succeeded in pulling 2 fish in the first half hour.
Steve and I have talked previously about how he and Kris Hickson targeted the big Black Bream in Mallacoota by pitching unweighted Aquas along the banks and ripping them back until they reached the visible Bream Digs in the sand. Dropping the lure back into these digs more often than not resulted in a hook up.
Rigging the Aqua
The technique on the Gold Coast was quite similar. Dave and I would cast up onto the edges and rip the plastic back aggressively on the surface, mimicking a fleeing prawn as best we could. The technique is not all that different to fishing a pink grub or a Squidgy Bug, but we found the retrieve needed to be aggressive!
If this didn’t entice a surface strike straight away (they’d often chase down the lure while it was skipping on the surface) or at least raise the interest of a fish (often we’d see fish turn on the lure or follow the lure from the shallows), we’d drop the rod tip as it reached the shadow line off the beach. As the lure wafted down out of sight, we’d wait with anticipation for the telltale “tick” in the line.
The strikes were aggressive, often drawing fish from out of sight, 3 or 4 meters away. In fact we employed the same technique fishing the pontoons, and one of the fish struck the lure so aggressively that it swam out from the structure a couple of meters and engulfed it only a meter from the boat.
I was using 2 short rods to fish this technique over the weekend. At 6 foot, my trusty Heartland Z Finesse Special got a good run, as did my Black Label 631 ULFS. Both these rods are extremely sensitive, with blanks that are quite parabolic when loaded. This was important when ripping the plastic on the surface. Being unweighted, it’s really easy to rip the lure out of the strike zone too quickly using a fast rod – the parabolic action helped to combat against this.
Interestingly, fishing unweighted plastics isn’t something I’ve ever done a lot of. Chris loves his Pink Grubs in summer, and Ian used to fish the boats a lot using hidden weight 1/60 jigheads, but I’ve rarely fished plastics on jigheads lighter than 1/24. Spending the day experimenting with different retrieves in territory I love to fish has really opened my eyes to the potential of the technique, particularly on my home waters. I reckon those Sydney Harbour Bream might see some variation in my presentations this summer, and my crankbaits may have some competition…