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BACKPACK BREAMIN'

Cameron Cronin

Throughout the last ten years, bream fishing has constantly and rapidly evolved into its current form as a multimillion dollar industry. With this evolution, there has been a noticeable shift in the way we target bream, with most serious bream anglers now deciding to fish from a dedicated watercraft of some kind, be it a boat or kayak. While vessels like these are a pleasure to fish from, it is easy to forget that some great bream fishing can still be comfortably and easily accessed with two feet planted firmly on dry land. While land based fishing can be a very refreshing and down to earth style of targeting bream, those wishing to start doing it on a regular basis may need to change a few things in their approach. In this article I will briefly run over the locations I find work best for targeting bream from the shore and the gear I use to catch them , as well as sharing a few of the small tips and tricks that I have picked up over the years that have helped me catch more fish.

Manmade structure:

Over the years our once pristine waterways have gradually succumb to human development, with boats, pylons, pontoons, rock walls, marinas, retaining walls and bridges all pockmarking many of our local systems. While these may not be great to look at, the good news is that they do offer some fantastic opportunities for those looking at hooking into a few bream from the shore.

When I plan a day fishing manmade structure, I often hit up Google Earth the night before and pick a stretch of bank that I hope to fish the next day. When choosing a stretch, I try to select an area where I can fish as many different types of structure as possible, maximising my opportunities of landing a few fish... just in case one area doesn't fire.

When doing this type of fishing I cannot stress how important it is to arrive at the spot you plan to fish as early as possible, with first light being the time I usually aim for. At this time of the day I have found that even the biggest of bream seem to throw caution to the wind, often rising up high in the water column to feed off the growth on various pieces of structure. This can produce some very exciting sight fishing possibilities and take it from me, seeing a big blue nosed bream slurp down your offering in plain sight will leave you weak at the knees!

Almost every area has some very different types of structure and it is hard for me to go into specifics on lure retrievals and selections, although a small soft plastic such as the ZMan 2.5" GrubZ rigged on a 1/20oz - 1/12oz TT Lures Hidden Weight System (HWS) Jighead will rarely let you down. As long as you allow your plastic to sink tight to the structure you have chosen to fish, until it hits the bottom, you should be in with a chance of landing a few bream.

Sand Flats:

If you are prepared to get your feet wet, wading sand flats can be another excellent option for those wishing to land a few bream. Sand flats are perhaps the simplest of any form of structure to fish for bream and are where I personally taught myself to bream fish. Depending on where you live flats may vary in size and features, although typically they will include a stretch of thick weed with patchy sand close to the shore, before gradually changing to sand before dropping off into deeper water.

Fishing the flats for bream isn't really too complex and good results can often be easily achieved by blindly firing out casts in all directions. You can improve your results though by searching for underwater features such as subtle changes in depth, a drop off into deeper water or sandy patches on a weedy bottom. Because flats are often so featureless, it is often these seemingly insignificant little things that will be holding most of the fish.

As far as lures and retrieves go, I really like small crank baits, under 40mm, although in most of my local systems weed will often become too thick to use the these trebled lures and this is when I make the switch to a grub tailed plastic, such as the ZMan 2.5" GrubZ and ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ. To work these lures all that is required is a twitch and pause retrieve, allowing the lure to settle on the bottom occasionally for a few seconds. Hits will come hard and fast, so be ready to set the hook at a moment's notice.

Backwaters and creeks

Usually located in the relatively secluded upper reaches of a system, creeks and backwaters can hold some red hot bream fishing options for those who are prepared to put in the hard yards to find them in the first place. Recently, I have discovered a couple of small backwater/ creek systems almost completely cut off from the rest the estuary where although the fish are fairly small on average, the fishing is hot with the take being super aggressive and the fights very challenging around the snags on light gear. Sounds like fun? Well, it is!

Once again, Google Earth can be your best friend when looking for suitable creeks and backwaters, and by hovering at an altitude height of about one kilometre, you can cover a lot of ground without missing out on any potential spots. On a sidenote, just because a creek does not have an attached backwater (and the vast majority of them do not) that doesn't mean it isn't worth a flick.  As a backwater is usually fed by a creek, I have put the two in the same category, although in reality the two are actually quite different. So while it can be great to fish two completely different areas in one session, you need to make sure you are equipped with gear capable of handling the bream living in both areas.

A couple of plastics for fishing the snaggier areas are a necessity, but recently I have really taken a shine to using the 1/12oz TT Lures Ghostblade when fishing in these areas. Not only do they seem to catch more fish, they definitely entice a much better class of bream, with 40+cm fish falling for these lures on a regular basis. To get the best out of your Ghosties I find a slow roll across shallow ground to be gun, although when the fish are shutdown, a quick lift and drop, allowing the lure to settle on the bottom for a second, really seems to fire them up.

Land based gear:

Although taking a truckload of gear is still achievable while fishing from the land, I can almost guarantee you will regret it after walking around with a heavy backpack for a couple of hours. So before you head out grab a medium to large sized tackle tray and load it with what you think you will need for that session.

Many boat anglers will make the mistake of loading their trays with all sorts of different lures 'just in case'... while singly they may not weigh very much, you will be surprised at how much heavier a once reasonably light backpack may feel by the end of the day!

The majority of the time, when you are land based fishing, you will only be able to carry one rod and reel combo with you at a time, meaning it is important to choose something as versatile as possible. For me this means taking a small, 2000 sized reel, loaded with 3-6lb braid tied to a 4-6lb leader. Rod wise, I look for something light and crisp, usually leaning towards the heavier side of things. Personally, I love my 4-10lb Daiwa Black Label, although you may want to go for something a bit lighter if you tend to fish more open ground or aren't dealing with larger bream on a regular basis.

Fishing gear isn't the only thing you should bring along though, with sturdy shoes, food and water, sunscreen,  a raincoat, camera and polarised sunnies all being regular contents in my backpack. 

So next time you get that bream itch, why don't you give land based breaming a go?  With a bit of persistence it can be surprising to find that some of your best bream options were right at your feet!

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017