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BREAD & BUTTER BASICS

Ryan Dixon

Bream, whiting and flathead are commonly referred to as bread and butter species when it comes to fishing. This means that they are the most common species that anglers catch and target. In my local area of Brisbane, bream, flathead, bass and mangrove jack are the species that I target most and have the most success catching. In this article I'm going to outline my techniques, gear and what I look for when chasing my bread and butter species.

FLATHEAD

Without a doubt flathead would be the most common species lure fishos target. Personally I love catching flathead as they are good fighters and it is a very satisfying feeling releasing a large female lizard after a few quick photos. When chasing flathead, likely areas I look for are drop offs, sand flats, and places that hold plenty of bait fish. As flathead are a bottom feeder, using soft plastics with a jighead that is heavy enough to keep you in contact with the bottom is imperative and I always retrieve my lure with the current, as flathead sit facing into the current.

Line size is also important when targeting flathead as they have very sharp, fine teeth and a lot of the time they inhale the lure enough to easily bite you off with their vigorous headshakes. I never use less than a 10lb leader and the plastics I use most often for flathead are the ZMan 4" SwimmerZ, ZMan 3" MinnowZ and the versatile ZMan 2.5" GrubZ, matched with TT jigheads to suit the depth and current.

Bream

Yellowfin bream are the species that I target most in my area. They can be one of the most challenging species and I've found they are getting smarter over time. This sees me constantly having to change my techniques to catch them on a regular basis. Bream can be found in a wide variety of areas, including shallow sand flats, weed beds, rock walls, canals, moored boats, deep holes, oyster leases, bridge pylons, shallow reefs and natural structure. I find that most structure will hold bream, as it provides plenty of food for them. Whether it's barnacles on rocks, bridge pylons or the underside of a moored boat, or just trying to find small crabs and other critters that also call the structure home.

Choosing your line size for bream can be very difficult as you need it to be light enough to get them to bite but heavy enough so you can extract them from their structure. The clarity of the water will also influence your decision, with super clear water making it hard to catch bream with any leader over 4lb. My favourite lures for bream are ZMan 2.5" GrubZ, ZMan 3" Scented ShrimpZ and the TT Lures Switchblade or Ghostblade. When fishing plastics a key consideration is making sure they are perfectly weighted so you can leave the lure in the strike zone for as long as possible.

MANGROVE JACK

Mangrove jack are my favourite fish to catch. They are definitely the most challenging species I encounter in my area and are well renowned for being the ultimate fighters. Jacks can empty out your tackle box in the blink of an eye and often have you busted off before you even know they are on the end of your line. In saying that the feeling of slipping the net under a mangrove jack is extremely satisfying and keeps me going back to try and catch these thugs of the creek, again and again.

Most commonly caught in the warmer months, mangrove jack live in areas very similar to bream, they love structure, current and places that hold plenty of baitfish. Canals and rock walls are very common places to encounter mangrove jack, but I've had the most success casting lures at natural fallen tree snags. I find the best snags are the ones that have plenty of water over them at both high tide and low tide, with the best time to target them at the end of low tide. Heavy leader is a must when chasing jacks, with 30lb leader a minimum for me, with a heavy spinning or baitcast outfit. My choice of lures for mangrove jack are ZMan 4" SwimmerZ, ZMan 4" Scented ShrimpZ and ZMan 3" MinnowZ matched with the appropriate TT jigheads.

BASS

Bass fishing is becoming more and more common in my area with the number of fish in the local creeks soaring due to the 2011 Brisbane floods. I love nothing more than heading out after work, slipping my canoe into the water or walking the banks of my local creek for a couple of hours and catching a few of these bronze battlers. Not only are bass hard fighting, they love smashing lures, with surface feeding fish very common in the late afternoon and early morning.

In the creeks, bass will more often than not be found holding close to structure, with fallen trees being the most common snags to be found. Patches of lily pads, steep banks and deep holes are also likely spots where bass will hold. Keeping a keen eye out and casting to any surface movement can also be effective. When chasing bass your outfit can vary from a light spinning outfit to a baitcast outfit, depending on what lures you are using. When casting TT Vortex spinnerbaits and ZMan ChatterBaits, I use a baitcast combo and when using small plastics I use a spinning outfit. For bass my choice of lures includes the two mentioned above, as well as the ZMan 4" Scented ShrimpZ rigged on the surface and also the ZMan 2.5" GrubZ rigged with a TT's Jig Spinners. I mainly use 8lb leader for bass, but depending on the structure I am fishing this will vary from time to time.

Hopefully the gear and techniques I use for my bread and butter species can help you with yours, whether you're just getting into lure fishing or you're already hooked on this fantastic sport.

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017