As an avid angler one of my favourite species of fish to chase is the humble bream. A finicky fish that can test even the most competent anglers, the bream is not to be under estimated. I have recently relocated from North Queensland to Sydney, New South Wales, and have reignited my passion for the species. The Bream is a heavily fished species in Sydney and I have noticed in some areas more than others the bream won’t fall for the typical hook, line and sinker. After a few unsuccessful fishing trips I decided I would need to mix it up and start experimenting with different ploys to catch this clever fish. Of course I needed to start with my gear, running 15lb braid and 20lb fluorocarbon wasn’t going to cut it, I needed to lighten up.
I re-spooled my trusty ATC valiant sw 2000 with 8lb (3.6kg) SureCatch Gallant braid matched with 10lb(4.5kg) SureCatch Fluorocarbon leader, using the Albright knot to connect the two lines. A lot of anglers beg the question ‘why use fluorocarbon over normal leader?’ and it’s simply because fluorocarbon is almost invisible in the water compared to regular leader, thus greatly improving your chances of the fish approaching your bait. This is where it got tricky. Usually when downsizing your gear you downsize your rod to match, but I had to keep in mind the area the bream lives. The environment the bream hugs so close too can be perilous for an angler’s line. Bream typically live in sheltered areas with plenty of structure for them to retreat to in the face of danger. I was going to be fishing a jetty closely surrounded by sharp line cutting oyster beds. I had decided if I was to hook a sizeable bream, I’d need that extra bit of rigidity in the rod to keep it from darting either under the jetty or busting me off on the oyster beds, like I’d seen happen to too many anglers before me. So keeping that in mind I stuck with my Wilson Magnum 8-17lb (3.6 - 7.7kg) to give me the upper hand on a large bream.
My gear was ready but I wasn’t satisfied that I’d done all I could to maximise my chances of landing a large bream, so I headed off to ask some local fishers some questions. Local knowledge is by far one of the most important cards an angler can have up his or her sleeve. After all my questions there was one word that I kept hearing, ‘burley’. It didn’t matter who I asked everyone was sure on one thing, if you want to catch big bream you need burley. Although everyone was sure you needed burley, their ideas on burley varied almost out of control between people. Some would suggest the typical mashed baits such as Pillies and Yakkas into a fishy milkshake, while others seemed to stray way outside the box. Cat food, cheese, cans of tuna, dog food, etc. But I noticed the idea seemed to stay the same, it didn’t seem to matter what you used as long as it left a lasting scent to attract the fish all around to the area without actually feeding the fish. I picked up 2 kilos of pilchards for $10 and I was ready.
I woke up to the sound of my alarm clock ringing, gathered up my gear, grabbed the burley and headed off to the jetty. I arrived an hour before sunrise leaving me plenty of time to set up and start feeding the water with burley. I setup my up my line with 2 meters of fluorocarbon, a split shot sinker, to a Tackle International Octopus Circle Hook. It only made sense to use Pilchard as bait as that’s what I was using to attract the bream. I dropped in my bait and let it sink all the way to the bottom until my line went slack, then wound my line in until the line was taught. Just as the sun began to rise I had my first bite, I sat poised and ready to set the hook. A few more gentle tugs on the line then BAM I set the hook and began the fight carefully steering it away from the pylons and bringing the fish up steadily. I landed the first bream of the day, only measuring in at 28cm, but I knew there were bigger fish down there. I dropped down my line again and sure enough I was met with another bream this one measuring in at 33cm. They were getting bigger and to encounter a bream this size was incredible. Bream take an incredibly long time to grow so catching a bream at that size that’s older than me and has potentially been caught and released multiple times in its life is awesome. I dropped another bait in the water and this time I was met by a solid tug on the line. I was ready, and set the hook. The fish pulled hard and ran straight for the pylons but luckily id thought ahead and my rod was strong enough to pull it back away from danger and landed the big bream I was there for. Measuring in at 39cm it was a brilliant way to end the day.
Bream are widely targeted on lures nowadays but in highly fished areas bream can be just as challenging if not more challenging on bait. So if you have never fished for bream and looking to give it a go, remember to find good structure and try using a burley that’s a little different from your typical run of the mill angler and you might find yourself landing a bream to remember.