Please select your home edition
Edition
InSunSport - International - Tough

Cool water tactics in the north- Breaming in barra country

by Lee Brake on 11 May 2013
Now that's a barra-country bream! They grow up big and tough in the tropics and will eat big lures. Lee Brake
Last week, Lee looked at a top option for beating the first of the winter blues – flicking for flathead. This week he looks at another species which shows up in quantity and quality in northern waters during the cooler months and is often overlooked, the humble bream.

Bream is a bit of a dirty word in barra country. Anglers, especially barramundi enthusiasts, often turn their noses up at these pocket-size predators. Usually considered an overzealous bycatch on barra lures and a pest on live baits, bream are somewhat of an underrated and underutilised species in the north. But they don't need to be.

A few years ago I discovered that during the neap, dry season tides, bream could be seen holding in mangrove snags in several well-known local estuary systems. These we not your flighty little silver bream either, but were big blue-nosed black bream (pikey bream) with deep bodies and fat stomachs. We quickly worked out that if we could get a lure into the guts of the dense mangroves, the bream would come alive like little devils and would plough the water as they violently charged the artificial offerings. At first, only a few found the hooks of our barra-size offerings – Flatz Rats, Little Lucifers etc – but we were blown away by the aggression and power of these 30-40cm bream. We began to experiment.


First off, we realised that barra tackle, while excellent for extracting fish from dense mangroves, was terrible for hook-ups on bream and spooked a lot of fish as the heavy line and lure smashed into their lair. We downsized to the lightest tackle we had – 7', 1-3kg spin sticks and 1000 size reels with 6lb braid. We also changed to 3' soft plastics and ultra-light jig heads, of which we had plenty for chasing flathead. This proved more effective and allowed us to get into the strike zone much easier without spooking the fish. However, as a downside, the bream were constantly grabbing the tail of the plastics and striking simply pulled the lure free of their grasp. To get a hook-up, we'd have to give them enough slack so they could munch the whole lure. Unfortunately, giving a fish that is surrounded by a plethora of roots, sticks and branches some slack line is fraught with peril. Once they got their heads turned, our 7' whippy flathead rods had no hope of turning them from their mangrove lairs. It was expensive!


So we went back to the drawing board. The first breakthrough came from using smaller plastics. I reasoned that if these bream were biting the tail, then a smaller offering might let them find the hook on the first bite. Rather than invest in new plastics, I tested my theory by taking a set of side cutters to the first inch of my 3' jerkshads. It worked, and my hook-ups increased remarkably. Also, because the bream were taking the lure while swimming in my direction, rather than in the direction of a mangrove abyss, it was much easier to muscle them from the structure. In saying that though, I had far from a 100% success rate. Every now and then a bream in the high 30s would snatch the plastics and destroy me in a shower of spray, creaking graphite, screaming drag and singing braid. Oh, and it turns out that barra and jacks love a little softy snack in the cooler months. Call it the peanut effect – no matter how sluggish you are, you'll usually snack on a peanut if one if offered to you.

To further increase our success rate we began experimenting with small weedless rigs and shorter, slower tapered spin rods (6'4', 2-4kg). By flicking the little weedless-rigged plastics in low and fast, you can actually skip them in under overhanging canopies, and while you do have to let the bream take the weedless rigs, you have the more solid rod to turn their heads with – it's an effective compromise.


Using these smaller, slightly stiffer-tipped spin rods also allowed us to experiment with small diving minnows and these proved to tempt a real mix bag of bream, barra, jacks and cod. Little C-Lure Jack Snacks, Berkley Frenzies and little RMG Scorpions all worked well.


I found 20lb fluorocarbon to be a good leader, as it was tough enough to deal with barnacle scrapes yet light enough not to spook the big black bream. Lure size was, as mentioned, important. Two inch plastics in most styles worked – the bream usually smashed them in a territorial manner as soon as they landed – but small Atomic Prongs, Berkley Powerbait Minnows, Zman GrubZ and Berkley Gulp Minnows were all standouts.


Jighead choice was simple – we used the lightest we could cast. The lighter the jighead, the slower it sunk in the strike zone, meaning less snags and more time to draw a strike. The light gauge hooks were also useful for getting the lures out of the snags. If there was a school in a snag and we got hooked up, simply by straight pulling the light wire hooks we could straighten them enough to get them back without spooking the fish. Then by simply re-bending the hook with some pliers we could get quickly back into the action. It's not a great practise when targeting bigger fish, but it worked just fine with the bream.

So, next time the cold weather has you down and you need a creek-flicking-fix, throw a few light rods and little plastics in the boat and go have some fun with those big black bream. They will surprise you, I promise.

Fish hard and stay safe,

Pantaenius - Worldwide SupportKiwi Yachting - LewmarBarz Optics - Kids range

Related Articles

Pantaenius – Smooth sailing is more than a favourable weather forecast
Pantaenius get ready to launch into their fourth year operating in Australia As Pantaenius get ready to launch into their fourth year operating in Australia, we get to see why they continue to grow their happy crew of customers. Sitting down with Pantaenius Australia’s MD, Jamie MacPhail, you immediately get a sense that the smooth sailing is a direct result of both their unique product and the marketplace’s willingness to embrace the better mousetrap
Posted on 27 Apr
Pantaenius Insurance - Gone in 180 seconds!
It was all ablaze and we were off in just on three minutes”, was how Noel Elliott described the scene 'It was all ablaze and we were off in just on three minutes”, was how Noel Elliott described the scene you see here. “The most horrendous thing is how quickly all the wiring burns. Remember, on a boat you’re encased in the stuff. It’s a bit like being in a single garage with wires in all the roof and wall cavities, as well as the floor.”
Posted on 20 Mar
Pantaenius Insurance - Close is more than deep enough for some.
As the sun finishes its day low behind the Nelson Bay marina, many a soul gathers above the rocks at the weigh station As the sun finishes its day low behind the Nelson Bay marina, many a soul gathers above the rocks at the weigh station. They could be local, from nearby or way farther afield and it is definitely not a sense of the macabre that draws them in. Rather, it is fascination and wonder, because for the sweeping majority, this is as close as they will ever get to Mother Nature’s marvels of the deep.
Posted on 14 Mar
Seabin- Saving the world, one marina at a time
Now and then you hear of an idea that’s so jaw-droppingly simple and yet so effective that it makes you shake your head Every now and then you hear of an idea that’s so jaw-droppingly simple and yet so effective that it makes you shake your head and wonder, ‘why not me’? Such is the case with the Seabin project, an automated marina rubbish bin that was designed to help remove plastic and other unsightly debris from the water.
Posted on 8 Jan
Eco-warriors Sea-Bin crowd sharing critical stage with nine days to go
The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised 86% of their target with 9 days left. The automated marina cleaning SeaBin project has raised $198,020 of $230,000.00 with nine days left on their Indiegogo crowdfunding platform, but they need more help now.
Posted on 29 Dec 2015
Don’t be a Tosser – Not your usual environmental article!!
The word ‘Tosser’ in the Oxford English dictionary means – ‘a person or thing that throws something’. The word ‘Tosser’ in the Oxford English dictionary means – ‘a person or thing that throws something’. There is no need for me to tell you the other meaning that is commonly used around the world. However in this article it will refer to both at the same time as someone who tosses trash into the ocean, truly is a tosser.
Posted on 3 Dec 2015
Pay attention, YOU can make a difference to the marine environment!!
THIS is a life exam subject and when you reach the Pearly Gates, your results today will count towards your destination OK, Sit up and pay attention, THIS is a life exam subject and when you reach the Pearly Gates, your results today will count towards your final destination
Posted on 16 Nov 2015
Flash and Crack is not a new pop band
To anyone who has been on an airliner hit by lightning, the flash and crack of the strike are vivid memories. To anyone who has been on an airliner hit by lightning, the flash and crack of the strike are vivid memories. It certainly gets your attention and when you land, all the technicians definitely run to the aircraft and give it a very close inspection. So now that we have heightened your senses, let us all remind ourselves that a lightning strike is not always fatal,
Posted on 15 Nov 2015
Scheduled server maintenance - 23 September GMT+2 11pm onwards
Scheduled server maintenance - 23rd September GMT + 2 11pm onwards Scheduled server maintenance - sites will be unavailable for some hours between 11pm and 7am GMT + 2
Posted on 23 Aug 2015
Pantaenius Insurance – How good does it get?
Insurance may not be the buzzword. There is not unobtanium for keels, spinach enhanced sails or vibranium fuel cells Insurance may not be the buzzword. There is not unobtanium for keels, spinach enhanced sails or hulls of cut diamond and vibranium fuel cells powering arc reactors to rave on about. No. It is numbers, facts, risk and documentation. Boring? No. Quite the contrary if you happen to have put your boat up on a reef or Hughie blows it off its mooring, smashes her through everything in sight...
Posted on 29 May 2015