by Jarrod Day
When it comes to fishing for bream and perch, nine times out of ten it involves fishing around structure. Structure can be in the forms of many obstacles such as pier pylons, fallen timber, boat hulls, rock walls etc:
Casting to boat hulls can reveal some impressive bream.
Structure plays an important role when it comes to estuary fishing. Regardless of where it is situated, a structure attracts baitfish as well as having growths such as oysters, mussels, even shrimp and crabs will use structure as a home. For a fish, this is like having meals on wheels and from an angler’s point of view, structure equals some of the most violent, high octane, close combat fishing you can experience.
The author with a nice slab of redfish pulled from skinny water.
How a structure works: While a structure can come in many forms, it all works in relatively the same way. In a river or estuary, a structure may have the river flow or current running into or past it. For a predatory fish, this becomes a great location to hide to pick up any baitfish or potential meals that may be washed past. Structure in estuaries where current flow is limited may also attract baitfish, prawns and crabs. To a fish, this is a likely location to once again hold on as it is easier to get a meal rather than having to hunt for it.
Nick Thompson, GBR, Men's One Person Dinghy (Laser) on day one - ISAF Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland
For an angler, knowing where structures are is vital in being successful. Piers, jetties, bridge pylons and fallen timber on the banks of a river or estuary can be easy to locate but it is the fully submerged structures that require the used of technology to find. Depth sounders and sonar’s these days are so advanced that finding totally submerged structures is quite easy. Better yet, with the introduction of side scan, anglers can view both left and right of the boat to see potential locations where fish may be holding. This technology is so advanced, that when using side scan, individual fish can be picked up. When a school of fish is located, the image will break it up to show each fish. For an angler exploring unchartered waters, nothing can make finding fish easier than with one of these units.
When working structure, stay well back so not to spook the fish.
Working structure: Once a structure has been located, working it is vitally important in order of gaining success. The basic procedure to working structure of any type is to firstly ensure that you haven’t spooked the fish on the approach. Boat anglers that have an electric motor can easily do this by positioning themselves within a good cast of the area to be fished. Anglers without an electric will often spook the fish as they will need to move into the snag to tie up to it.
Results - 2015 IKA Formula Kite World Championships
Having perched yourself from the structure, accurately fishing the structure is the next approach. Fish will hold in certain positions of a structure and it is these positions that a cast needs to be made too. A bridge pylon should have a lure cast to its edge and worked along its length as fish will hold beneath it. A fallen log or tree will require casts to be placed amongst the branches where lures will be lost. If a lure is not placed in the right position of where the fish are, you’re not within a chance at hooking one.
Frank Milito from East Gippsland Charters displays a solid pair of bream taken from a deep snag.
Bream and perch which are the main targeted species will hold in different positions on a snag depending on the tide. On the top of a high tide, they will often be a little higher on the snag awaiting baitfish to be funnel towards them. On the low tide, the fish will go deeper, hiding right under the thick of the snag and most of the time, under the main section of the structure. In non-tidal locations structures will fish remotely different whereby high or low tide will not be a factor, rather the fish will just be holding on the structure most of the time.
Rock walls are good locations to work. Bream often feed in these areas on a high tide.
Fish in estuaries that hold on snags often do so in the summer/autumn months while during winter will head into deeper water or at the mouths of rivers. Though to some degree, they will still hold on structures such as rock walls and fallen timber but for the most part, they can be located in the middle of the river mouths which is when vibing for them is a highly successful technique.
Wind charts - 20th Marion to Bermuda Race
Once you've done your homework and found a likely structure you think will hold fish - take the time and fish it thoroughly. Often, anglers can work a structure too quickly and miss a potential fish holding position.
The author with a solid bream taken on a vibe along a rock wall in the Tambo River.
Learning about structure is just another way of thinking how to solve the 'Where are the fish today?' puzzle. The more you understand the species you’re targeting and how they relate to structure, the more you'll find yourself catching more fish. Remember, the more casts you can put in, the better chance you’ll have at structure success.