Black bream are a great southern fish. They look cool, fight hard and are challenging species to land on a consistent basis. Landing the larger blue-nosed blacks from tight water on a regular basis requires a fair bit of effort and persistence.
I have found myself grabbing a light spin outfit and targeting black bream here in SA quite a bit over the past couple of years. I certainly don’t take it to the same level as the elite competition fisho’s, but I get a kick out of pulling nice bream out of small coastal creeks close to home.
These small waterways are often short tidal rivers, sometimes only stretching for a kilometre or so inland before tapering into a nondescript creek. Some of these waterways are only 10 or 20m wide at their widest point, and a metre or two deep so the fish often spook easily. It’s in these tight waters where I do the majority of my bream fishing, and it’s really rewarding landing a good bream from such a small body of water.
While targeting bream isn’t rocket science, there are still a few factors that contribute to consistently pulling the larger fish from small waterways. Cues such as weather conditions, water clarity and salinity, food availability, plus the tides and time of day all play an important roll in the feeding habits of black bream.
Flicking small plastics and hard bodied lures is a good way of fishing these small waterways, but you will need to fish with caution as these fish can, and often do, spook easily in these shallow waters. We normally work our way upstream, casting to likely holes and snags as we go. We normally lay half a dozen casts at the one spot, and if we don’t have a hit, follow or hook up in this time, then we move on.
My personal favourite lure for bream is the 65mm Squidgie Wriggler in Bloodworm. I normally fish this on a 1/16 or 1/32oz jig head. Presenting this lure in the most natural way will always get the best results. I normally opt for 4lb Ocea fluorocarbon leader when working lures in tight waterways.
While a lot gets written about luring for bream, casting baits is still a productive and reliable way of pulling some nice bream from small bodies of water. Our main baits include live nippers, larger green prawns, rock crabs and even fish fillets. On our last session we were having our baits attacked by smaller bream and salmon trout, so we started fishing with finger-sized strips of salmon, and we managed three bream over 40cm on these baits. Being adaptable and trying a range of baits is important, and renewing baits regularly is another important factor. Bream are wily feeders, so you want to present the best possible baits.
We usually focus on the deeper holes and sections of small coastal creeks and rivers when targeting bream on baits. Start by placing a cast up against any visible structure such as snags, rock walls, channel edges, or bridge and river pylons. Leave the bait for a little while, say 5 mins, and then retrieve, check your bait and fan another cast to a different area. By fanning your casts you get to cover a fair area, and if you don’t get any action, move along to the next promising stretch of water. It’s a pretty relaxed way to fish these small coastal waterways.
We always fish with a single circle hook to give ourselves the best chance of a clean hook up in the corner of the mouth. I usually fish with a size 4 or 6 chemically sharpened circle. Fishing with circles is a bit different to that of standard straight shank hooks. Instead of striking firmly when a bait is taken, it’s more a case of loading up to the weight of the fish with even pressure.
I usually run this hook on a 60cm length of 6lb Ocea fluorocarbon leader, with a small swivel (something around size 10) separating the leader from the mainline. Resting against the top of the swivel is a small ball sinker, something in the 5 to 8gram range.
My main bream outfit is a Sustain 1000FG reel and 1 – 3kg T-Curve Revolution Inshore rod. The Sustain is spooled with 4lb Power Pro braid, and is great for presenting lightly weighted baits in small rivers.
The time of day is important in these small coastal creeks. We normally hit the banks at either first light, or just before sunset. We see a definite feeding pattern around the twilight periods in shallow coastal creeks. These fish often school-up and move together, so if you manage to land a good fish, the sooner you can slip him back into the water and flick out another cast the better your chances of intercepting another fish before they move on.
While fish can be caught around the tide, I prefer a building tide. It seems to stir these fish into feeding as new water flushes into these rivers with the new tide. Catching big bream from these tight waterways can be very rewarding, and the fight of a solid bream is unforgettable in such a shallow, narrow body of water.