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Ash Hazell

(Here's one from a little while back, prior to Ash basing himself in Victoria to start Barrow Boys Brewing with a few mates)

I'm lucky enough to have a job that sees me travelling interstate occasionally and although it's usually just for a couple of days for an event or to help out with something, I always consider my angling options and try to add on a couple of days for myself. The best example so far was a trip to Brisbane for QLD craft beer week, where I was doing some demonstration brewing, representing Little Creatures. Once that was done, I met up with fellow Pro Staffer Will Lee and Justin Willmer from Tackle Tactics for a day of fishing. I had only just joined the team and this was a great welcome!

The wind forecast was terrible but that didn't stop Will from making the gutsy call to hit the Redcliffe area in his bass boat. As I am WA based this was going to be my only chance to fish for Yellowfin bream before the Bribie Island ABT Grand Final, so I had to make the most of it. We arrived at the ramp a little after sunrise and straight away saw that the forecast was right for once, maybe even underestimated. Refusing to give in, we pushed on and were quickly flying out into the messy Moreton Bay chop.  A couple of good waves over the front of the boat later and we were at our first stop. Coming from the snaggy bream rivers of WA, the idea of chasing bream out in these waters was completely alien to me!

We tied on our preference of ZMan plastics, ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ, 2.5" GrubZ and 3" Scented ShrimpZ, and it wasn't long before a few bream started hitting the decks. I watched Will and Justin's fishing styles closely, as they started to pull a few solid bream before I had my first legal on board. Will was fishing ZMan 3" Scented ShrimpZ on 1/8oz TT heads, while Justin and I used ZMan 2.5" GrubZ in Watermelon Red and Pumkpinseed on 1/12oz heads. This was only just heavy enough for the conditions, but was enough to get our lures down into the strike zone with downwind casts.

We fished a variety of structure from man-made break walls to natural reef and I was amazed at the pulling power of even the smaller bream amongst the reef. I'm not ashamed to admit that I lost more than I landed until I started to fish a bit differently. Light leader was essential in the clear ocean water. Fishing right on the bottom in the reef was a fast way to loose fights! As I started to fish higher off the sea bed with a more erratic retrieve, I was hooking fish above the reef rather than amongst it. The fish weren't too shy to come up and take the lure. This gave me the head start I needed to get them clear of the reef and safely into the net.

We covered a lot of ground over the day and it was great to see a completely different side of bream fishing. We pulled a few good bream each and plenty of smaller ones along with some by-catches to fill in the time between. Flathead and big Long Tom were a welcome change and had us guessing until they came within sight.

Another great trip I've had recently was to Tasmania for a friend's wedding. Tasmania is well known as the home of big bream in Australia, so I had very high hopes of finding some chunky blue-noses. I was lucky enough to get in contact with a couple of locals and they were kind enough to help me find some 40's. We fished a small system along the East Coast, where I was virtually guaranteed some big bream. The vast flats of those systems don't hold large numbers of bream but the average size was incredible. We saw small schools of big bream cruising along the drop offs, as well as up in the feeder creeks.

This is where I got stuck into my best ones, while fishing ZMan 2.5" GrubZ on 1/16oz TT jigheads, as they waited to ambush their prey in the flowing tidal system. Finesse was the key here in the ultra clear water. We quietly stalked the banks and caught a bunch of 40's that day including a 41cm fork length brute each.

Experiencing and learning these different systems is crucial to becoming a well-rounded and multi-skilled angler. So, do yourself a favour and think about your options if you are heading away for work or even on a non-fishing holiday. A travel rod, light weight reel and a handful of lures is all you need to sneak into your suitcase to explore new systems. Some local knowledge, or in this case, a tour guide, is an advantage but not essential. I've had other memorable trips, including chasing bream in Melbourne's Docklands and laid-back afternoons flicking for Redfin Perch in Victorian dams. Not all trips will be fruitful but you can usually take something away from these adventures and it still beats sitting around a hotel room watching telly between functions or meetings! 

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