Trophy Bream! Part 2

This is the conclusion of my “Trophy Bream” article Published in Fishing World Magazine.  In Part 1, 2 weeks ago, we looked at the preferred techniques and lures of four successful tournament anglers.  This week, they talk about the structure and gear, and they give some advice to increase your chances of landing that BIG one.


What structure do you target

SG. Structure again varies from location to location, but the prevailing trend is that most BIG bream will be very close to some form of structure or cover. A lot of this structure happens to be man made in the form of boat moorings, jetties, bridge pylons and retaining walls, whilst some of the biggest bream I have seen have been in oyster racks, but extracting them is another story.

LM. Flats fishing is my favourite. 

VL.  In the shallow water I look for weed and particularly patchy weed rather than thick weed.  Ideally the fish will either sit in the sandy patches amongst the weed or on the outer weed edges.  Rubble is also good to look for such as broken rock or old oyster leases and you shouldn’t by pass the leader poles that mark the flats.

IS. Pontoons, jetties, rockwalls and boats.  It requires a degree of skill and concentration.  Firstly, to get your lure in tight amongst the structure but also when you do hook a fish, having to make split second decisions about how you will try and extract the fish. 

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What gear do you use (rods, line, leader) 

SG. I generally tend to use a P.E main line (Yamatoyo Super P.E) 6lb with a fluorocarbon leader of up to 8 lb, depending on conditions.

However, I always carry at least a couple of rods rigged with 2 and 3 lb Yamatoyo spinning fluorocarbon for very clear water or when the fish are spooky. 

LM. Samurai Reaction 302 rods with Megabass Luvito 256 reels.  I either run Unitika Silver Thread spinning Fluorocarbon or Unitika Aorika II braid with Unitka Aiger III as leader.

VL. It is a matter of personal choice of what people like to use.  My personal preference is quite a simple set up.  For soft plastics I like a minimum of a 7ft rod with a medium taper suited to 1-3kg and a 2000 reel spooled up with 10lb Daiwa Tournament Hyper PE and a 4lb Finesse Brave Fluorocarbon.

For hard bodies I have come to like the Daiwa 6’3 Ultra light rod and is designed for 1-3kg line.  I like to team this up with Daiwa Freams Reel in the 2000 model and spooled with a 10lb Tournament Hyper PE and I use a Finesse Brave Fluorocarbon in 6lb.

You might ask yourself why I am using such a heavy braid.  In other brands I would usually use about 4lb but I can get away with a heavier braid in the Daiwa brand as it has such a small diameter and is still quite soft and supple to tie your joining knots, has no memory, yet is strong enough when you hook that fish of a lifetime.

I sometimes use 2lb or 3lb fluorocarbon straight through (this means no braid at all).  This is best for when conditions are glassed out.  It is difficult though too feel the action through the rod and can be harder to get a good hook set because of the stretch in the line.

IS. I use the interline TMZ 662 ULFS rods with 3 or 4 lb spinning fluorocarbon line.  I find that the Interlines have pin point accuracy which is not comparable to other rods I have fished before. 

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What advice can you give us to improve our chances of hooking that trophy fish

LM. Book a cheap plane trip to Tasmania and give me a call at “Bream and Trout Fishing Tasmania”.  We’re blessed with big bream down here.

IS. There are a number of things I have learnt about crankbaiting over the past few years.  Regular taper rods and spinning fluorocarbon assist in ensuring you don’t strike too quickly and allow you to easily keep pressure on the fish.

Depending on what lures I’m throwing, I generally retrofit new Decoy YS25 or Gamakatsu Wide Gap trebles.  I feel the wider gap in these trebles improves hook up rates especially for the less aggressive fish.

VL. I like a lure to be as natural as possible, so in shallow flats this means fishing light jig heads such as TT 1/28th ounce in a hidden weight with a 1/0 hook size.  This hook size is important to get a good hook set in a large breams mouth.  The light weight will float a soft plastic down slowly through the water column, instead of bombing the lure straight to the bottom.  It is often that a big fish will take the lure in a matter of seconds of the lure hitting the waters surface.  Make sure your hooks are sharp and the point of it is not folded over.

When rigging your soft plastic it is also important that it is rigged straight on the hook rather thank crooked or bunched up to give it a more natural presentation and to ensure it is swimming correctly.  Fish do not like unnatural looking bait.  If you collect any weed on your lure make sure it is removed before the next cast, as fish will not attack a lure with weed on it.

Targeting the tides is an important factor that will give you more successful hook ups and I find fishing through the day when we have had a full moon at night to be a less productive time.

Hopefully if you follow a few of these tips it won’t be long before you are into a big bream.

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As anglers, we all have a story of “the one that got away”.  For me, some of those moments are etched firmly in my memory.  Hooking that trophy fish is only the first part of the puzzle.  What advice can you give us that will improve our chances of landing that trophy fish?

SG. The best advise I can give for landing the big fish once hooked is to be patient, unless of course you are fishing very nasty structure. Then you leave patience out of the equation.

A lot of big bream are lost near the boat as anglers panic and try to drag the fish to the net, which results in a pulled hook. I have fought some of my biggest bream for nearly 10 minutes, which seems like an eternity, but they made it to the net, so just enjoy the battle and the fish will come.

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LM.  Time on water and know your terrain and depth.  The fish knows where it’s going, if you know what he’s heading for you’ve got a chance to turn it or keep it off the bottom.   And don’t be scared to free spool if it makes it back to structure or into the weed as most of the big brutes do.

VL.  Nothing annoys me more than seeing people strengthen their drag on their reel during a fight.  Set your drag at the beginning of the day and don’t touch it.  Usually a formula for most gamefishing is to set your drag a third of your line class you are using.  For example if using 15kg line the drag would be set at 5kg.  So don’t set your drag too heavy.  If you need to touch your drag it may be to loosen it when the fish is in the clear at the final stages of the fight and close to the boat. This can offer some insurance in case the fish takes off erratically at the sight of the net.

Remember to take a suitable net to land the quality fish you were looking for.

If catching flathead through the day, be sure to check your leader for scuffs.  They can even scuff the knot that is attached to your lure, so make sure everything is spot on.  Re-tie your knot or leader if you are unsure.  There are no second chances.

A quality knot attaching your leader to the braid should be able to withstand a good sized bream and the drag pressure.  Do not comprise in this department at all as this is where most big bream escape.

Most importantly don’t rush it.  If the bream wants to run, let it run.  When it stops running pump and wind in even strokes, take your time and enjoy the moment.  Even when you see colour at the side of the boat don’t panic and rush the net shot otherwise this may be the last time you will see this fish when it is busted off.

IS. In the areas and type of structure I fish, it is important to be focussed on exactly where in relation to the structure your lure is whilst retrieving.  If a fish hits your lure and takes a run, it is quite often necessary to make a split second decision as to whether you apply pressure to the fish, open the bail arm or tow the fish out gently.  Which one of these options you choose comes with experience.

Towing the fish out gently is always my preferred option.  I find with bigger bream, it is quite often the case that the more pressure you put on the fish, the harder they will fight back.  In my experience, if I can keep light pressure on the fish before they realise that they are hooked, then I can ever so gently tow them away from the structure using the electric motor.  Once in open water, I will back off the drag and take my time to bring the fish to the boat.  If the fish makes a run I will also move my rod, arms and whole body in the direction of the fish if necessary to reduce the amount of work my rod and drag need to do.

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So there you have it.  The experts have revealed their secrets, to consistently target and catch big bream.  Be it on the flats or in tight man made structure, fishing soft plastics, surface lures or hardbody crankbaits, the common theme once you hook that fish of a lifetime is to take your time and be patient.  Those split second decisions can be the difference between a “what if” moment firmly etched in your memory or the ecstasy of landing that once in a lifetime trophy fish.

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