by Jarrod Day
Fishing for bream can be one of the most knee trembling, adrenalin rushing, drag testing styles of fishing an estuary angler can endure and while there are many different techniques which can be used, catching them on the surface with small walkers can be truly epic.
Small surface walkers are all the rage.
The take can be furious leaving just a boil on the surface.
Whether they are caught on a bait or hard body, bream anglers know that when these little feisty bullets take the bait, the battle is fast and furious. While this maybe so for the majority of locations bream are caught in throughout an estuary, when they are feeding on the shallow flats, catching them on surface lures is something else.
Where: Right around the country, bream can be caught on the surface in practically every estuary they abound but in Victoria this technique is more so popular in Gippsland and Mallacoota in the Far East. On approach to an estuary, shallow sand banks surrounding the edges is where most of the action occurs. Fish feeding on the shallow flats become vulnerable and for an angler can be quite easily spotted with polarised sunglasses. Once fish are found, they can then be cast upon and tempted from the top.
Frank displays a solid little yellow fin.
When: Bream will respond well to a range of lures and at certain times of the year will favour different lures at different times. For instance, during winter bream make their way out of the rivers into the main channels where metal vibes maybe more productive. During the spring/summer months the fish tend to move up on the flats searching out a meal from the sand. These shallow flats can range from a foot deep to 3ft but regardless of depth, a small surface walker makes a very tasty meal.
When casting surface lures, staying back from the bank or snag is imperative so you dont spook the fish.
Bream are quite an easily spooked fish so regardless of whether you casting in the snags or on the flats you must be very cautions when on the approach. Whether is a big dictator in how productive the fishing will be for surface luring. Unfortunately as nice as it is to be fishing on those glorious flat calm days, the fishing is often not that productive. This is mainly because on the flats the fish can easily spot you before you before you spot them. Ideally, some of the most productive surface luring session has been when there is a slight breeze and little chop which will mask the boat and anglers. It will also pay to be fishing an overcast day to also prevent and unwanted shadows cast over the flats.
What to toss: There are literately hundreds of surface walkers and poppers available on the market and it pays to have a small selection to cover all bases. Surface poppers are an advantage as they make a small 'popping' sound when worked. This sound catches the fish’s attention in which they are quick to set upon the lure. Walkers on the other hand don’t make too much noise compared to that of a popper; rather they scurry across the surface making little 'pop’s' as they waddle.
While both lures are similar, they are both required on any surface session your are going to partake in.
Bream surface lures range in size from 50mm to 70mm and as for colour selection, well there are hundreds so go to town when you’re choosing them.
Working the lure: Working the lure does require some finesse about it. Outfits used are quite light which will allow you to get a steady technique for the right retrieve. When using a popper it is imperative that it is worked back so it 'bloops' or 'pops' on the surface. When you get it right, you will hear the sound it produces, replicating this on further retrieves will have you in the best chance at enticing a fish.
After a cast is made, wind up the slack to keep the line tight to the lure. Once it is, hold the rod tip almost vertical, let’s say at a 70 degree angle. Then with a little twitch to 90 degrees flick the lure while winding up the lines slack. Continue this right back to the boat before re-casting.
Walkers on the other hand require more of a shaking motion. Once again, after the cast has been made, wind up the slack but before it is tight wriggle the rod but slightly while winding in the slack. Every fifth or so turn of the reels handle pause for a second allowing the walker to sit almost motionless. This will have the walker dart left and right and then when paused is when you will be hit.
The right gear: Surface luring for bream does require ultra light tackle. The main reason being is that these lures weight only around 20 grams or so and when using heavy tackle you wont get the desired cast required.
The main outfits used tend to be a 7ft 1-3 or 2-4kg rod with slow taper. Matched to them are either a 1000 series reel or 2500 series reel loaded with 6lb or 10lb braid.
Ensure you have a good lure selection, you never know what they will take on the day.
Personally, I use a Wilson 'Blade n Tails' Light with Shimano Rarenium 1000 reel. The outfit is extremely light but has good control when twitching or popping surface lures for bream. I’m currently using YGK Syutsujin 6lb and supports a diameter of 0.20mm enabling a much further cast to get the lure to the fish before they see me. While the fish don’t tend to run you over rubble ground, leader material can also be kept light; around 5lb is the maximum I would suggest. With such light tackle, any fish hooked will give you a real battle which is just what the doctor ordered when going to the top.
Top water bream fishing is very visual and can be a lot of fun given the right tackle and right conditions. If you’re up for a challenge, hit the surface for some extremely light tackle fishing that’s totally addictive.
Another fish being released after an epic light tackle battle.