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By Tackle Tactics Pro Angler Luke Smith
First published: May 20 2020

From bream to barrel size bluefin, Luke loves fishing his home waters of southwest Victoria, while also being up for a trip anywhere around Australia to get stuck into some good fish.

5 Tips for Targeting Southern Black Bream

By Luke Smith

Southern black bream on light gear is a favourite for Luke Smith and in this article he gives us 5 Tips that work for him when targeting this river and estuary favourite. Fish on!

Go light to get the bites

One of the first steps to any fishing venture is to select the gear that you wish to catch your target species on. To do this, you need to first identify what you want to catch and more importantly, how you want to catch it. For our local southern black bream, I choose to chase them on super light gear.

My gear consists of thin braid, long leaders of 2-4lb fluorocarbon and 1-3kg rods with light actions. This works for me in many of my local systems where I chase the fish as there is relatively little heavy structure. Sure, I get the occasional dust up on a big fish, however, would I have had that bite if fishing heavier tackle? This has long been a debate, however I feel that I get a lot more bites fishing with light braids and light leaders than I would if fishing 6-8lb leaders.

Once I started to use this light tackle, I couldn't swap back. It wasn't just the results that convinced me. The whole outfits are generally that bit lighter in weight and feel, so when casting super thin braid with light leaders it is smooth as can be. No clunky leader knots due to thicker lines. No cast off lures due to that bulky knot being damaged from repetitive casting.

Two things that will be noticed are firstly the ability to cast more accurately, as the wind does not catch the braid and leader as much and secondly the extra yardage gained on the cast.


Bream are notorious for being finicky and shy. There is nothing worse than seeing old mate roar up the river, stop abruptly and then anchor or drop the electric in the wake that he has just created. It's also super frustrating when someone can't decide where to fish and they proceed to drive past you three or four times with the two stroke letting every fish know what's going on. Jet skis... don't even get me started on those things.

My preferred tactic is to pull up at least 100m before where I want to fish. I'll drive my tinny flat out to get their quicker, then it's a matter of backing off, idling for a little bit and then putting the electric in and creeping up to the target area as I fan out a few casts. Quite often I'll manage to snag a fish before arriving at the area that I was intending on casting at. This method only takes a minute or two longer, however it certainly helps to not spook the bream that you are hoping to catch.

Elephants eat peanuts

We have all heard the saying, but how many of us have actually put this into practice? The best example that I can think of was a trip to the Glenelg River with Corey and Lewie. We were chasing 20lb jewies (mulloway). We were fishing our light gear as it's a whole new level of fun.

We had tried throwing some four and five inch baits, when I decided to swap back to a ZMan 2.5" GrubZ in the go-to Motor Oil colour. The statement was made that I might have been stupid and I was reminded how big these fish were. I replied by saying that you're a pretty big guy but if I held out some jelly beans I'm sure you would still eat them. First cast resulted in a 24lb jewie (mulloway) on 4lb leader and second cast was a 21lb jewfish (mulloway). After that there was three of us casting and we all had a GrubZ tied on.

Fishing for bream is no different. At times we catch them on whole pillies, or big salmon fillets intended for jewies, so they certainly eat big baits at times. Usually a 2.5" GrubZ is a perfect allround size, however when you know there are some fish in the area and they aren't biting, you still have the chance to catch them on a different method or lure.

Sometimes it won't work, however when you downsize to a ZMan 2" GrubZ on a lighter jighead and pull a 40cm bream on your fifth cast, there is no better feeling of satisfaction. A 2" GrubZ makes a perfect follow up lure if you have had a few hits on bigger lures with no hook ups. Whether it be with a hardbody or another plastic, if you have a few timid bites that don't hook up, quickly fire in a lightly weighted 2" GrubZ and fish it back through the area where you had the hits. Quite often the fish will inhale this smaller profile.

Make it taste better

Whilst lures work fine, with their natural actions and appearance, they can certainly be improved at times by adding some smell and flavour. Scents come in a wide variety of flavours and styles, however I am partial to the Pro-Cure range. Their gels are super-sticky and come in some great flavours for different applications.

The new Pro-Cure Tinted Bait Sauce range is a little bit thinner in consistency to the Super Gel, so it disperses more rapidly into the water and it is full of fish oils, amino acids and bite stimulants that help to trigger fish to bite. It's only new but I'm loving it so far and it is ideal for scenting up an area with less water movement and firing up a school of fish.

There are no rules regarding when to use scent or how much to put on, but I prefer to apply thin smears to my plastics every 20 casts or so. When I catch a fish I never reapply scent straight away as I figure that a fish just ate it the way that it was and now, if anything, the lure smells more natural after coming out of the fish's mouth.

Slowly does it

When fishing for bream down south, it is important to be patient. It's quite easy to get excited with what's happening around you and start working your lure a lot faster. Someone once told me "if you think you are going slow, slow down again".

This is always something that I refer back to when I'm not catching fish. I go back to the basics, with no fancy retrieves, just drag or hop a plastic along the bottom ever so slowly and more often than not it gets a bite. Even with hardbody retrieves it can be a deadly technique to roll it back super slowly, with no twitches at all. How often do you get a bite 'on the pause'? This works on the same principal of slowing it down and letting the lure hang in the strike zone for longer.

Bream are readily available and great fun on light gear. I hope these five tips help you get hooked up to a few soon. Get out there!

Cheers, Luke

Gear List:
Okuma Helios SX Spin Rods - HSX-S-702L 7' 1-3kg Spin Rod
Okuma Helios SX Spin Reels - HSX-30 Spin Reel
Platypus Platinum Braid - 6ld
Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader - 4lb

ZMan 2" GrubZ
ZMan 2.5" GrubZ
ZMan 2.5" Slim SwimZ
TT Lures HeadlockZ Finesse Jigheads
Pro-Cure Tinted Bait Sauce - Tuna