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By Tackle Tactics Pro Angler Michael Wright
First published: Jun 22 2020

Michael spends plenty of time chasing his favourite species, bream, bass and mangrove jack.

Winter Bream: A Dual Approach

By Michael Wright

Winter is an awesome time to target the yellowfin bream [Acanthopagrus Australis] on the east coast of Australia, as most of these little scrappers and some bigger ones are in spawning mode. During these months the bream will congregate around river mouths, deep rock bars and break walls where the salinity is high, creating good breeding grounds. A good indication that spawning time has begun is when the average size fish of 23cm emits milt. Of course, these are the male fish for those of you that did not do biology at school and this is the bream's peak of sexual maturity. At this time of the year, these guys are a dime a dozen.

The larger size yellowfin bream (over the 30cm mark) are generally the females. These quality fish have stored fat over the summer months, in preparation for the breeding season in winter. You need to land these beauties before spring hits and the fish lose condition.

I look forward to the colder months, in anticipation of a great bream season. When it comes to winter fishing the preferred method is deep bite tactics. Keeping it simple, the angler needs to focus on deep water sections in our estuaries and in my opinion there is no better way than a dual approach, using soft plastics and /or vibe type lures.

The winter period can generally be a time of low rainfall, clear cold water and bright clear days. This can make schooling bream wary of heavy leaders and lines, along with boat traffic. Let us take a closer look at how to land some of those big old blue nose bream.

My favourite locations to fish by far are rock walls and rock bars. Where I live in SEQ we are blessed with rivers that have both, with long rock walls that allow for the perfect drift and jig session in the kayak. Drifting along parallel to the rock wall, on the run in tide, I keep the yak about 4-5 metres distance away from the wall.

Soft Plastics

My first approach, depending on tidal flow, will see me usually getting away with a 1/16oz to 1/8oz jighead from the TT Headlockz Finesse range and for this approach I'll rig up my choice of soft plastic, which is a ZMan 2.5" GrubZ in Motor Oil or Midnight Oil colour. After casting the plastic slightly upstream and as near as I can to the rock wall, without snagging up, I allow a slight sink.

My retrieve is a basic hopping approach, which allows the lure to bounce its way down the tapered rock wall, all the way to the base. Hits can start anywhere from the first few feet to the bottom of the wall, depending on the day or tide. This is something that you will have to work out on the day along with your choice of a suitable weight jighead, generally ranging from 1/16oz to 1/8oz dependant of current, depth and drift speed.

It would be wise during your session to change your jighead to suit the tidal flow. So, really what you want is the lightest possible jighead, designed to create a natural presentation to the bream, while still allowing you to get to the bottom and utilise a deep bite technique.

If you get no hits on the retrieve, try leaving the plastic on the bottom for a length of time and with a bit of luck a bream will come along and pick it up. At times you won't realise the big buggers are hooked up until you do your next hop and BOOM! This technique is called dead sticking and the great action and buoyancy of the ZMan 2.5" GrubZ sees the tail doing all of the work when at rest on the bottom. It is also perfect for this in combination with the TT Lures NedlockZ jighead, a mushroom style jighead designed to promote this 'stand up' action.

Perfect alternative plastics for winter bream hook ups, when using a deep bite tactic, are the ZMan 2.5" Slim SwimZ, in a natural colour like Opening Night and /or Motor Oil. Opening Night colour resembles the whitebait or froggies that are a prevalent throughout SEQ rivers at this time of year.

The wiggly, fast tail action of the Slim SwimZ drives the bream and other species mad! Personally, the best way that I could describe my retrieve with the Slim SwimZ is a whip and drop, as it resembles baitfish in trouble. Some other places to try this technique include around bridge pylons, channel markers and boat harbours. If it's deep, it works a treat.

Vibes / Blades

My second approach to winter bream fishing is to use vibe type lures. TT Lures offer both metal and polycarbonate constructions, differing in weight, size and tow point options. The vibe is an alternative for when a soft plastic bite is not working. It is great in clear water conditions, however super deadly in dirty water, be it in flood or post flood conditions. As the bream will hold in the saltier water, below the fresh, the vibration of these lures will alert the lateral line on the fish and with some added scent it should attract a response.

What is it about these lures that bream love so much? Is it that they confuse it for a baitfish maybe? And why do they work so well around bridges, rock walls, rock bars, boats, etc? Well, this is a theory of mine and a bit of a lightbulb moment for me about bream and the vibe lures. It happened a few years back now, in winter when I was fishing a Hobie Bream Tournament on the Gold Coast.

Whilst fishing a deep rock bar, the bream had gone quiet on the plastics. With only a couple of fish under my belt and the day getting away, the pressure was on. I decided to tie on a Red Nightmare coloured TT Lures Switchblade in 1/8oz. First drop, a few small hops and I hooked up!

I ended up getting my bag, not massive, but enough to weigh in. My discovery came with the comp done and dusted and when emptying my live well. I noticed, LO AND BEHOLD, little bits of crushed up mussel shells. That's when I realised how the bream had perceived the small TT Lures Switchblade in Red Nightmare... to them this was a mussel. This is why you often see bream down feeding in the rocks, searching for mussels and other prey.

So, that's my theory on the vibe and bream. As for tackle, I like to use the TT Lures Switchblade and still favour the Red Nightmare colour in a 1/8oz when fishing a deep rock bar with a reasonable tidal flow. I will generally fish this tied to a 6lb fluorocarbon leader of around 2-3 metres, tied to 6lb Platypus Platinum Braid. The same does the job for my soft plastics bream fishing. Both the soft plastics and the vibes can be fished on graphite rods in the 7' length, matched with either 1000 (10) or 2500 (25) size reels.

In terms of soft plastics, as ZMan offer a huge range of baits, on top of my go-to GrubZ and Slim SwimZ, I'd further recommend the 2.75" TRD Bugz and you could even give the 2.5" TRD CrawZ and 3" TRD HogZ a swim, rigged on a TT Lures NedlockZ jighead, called a Ned Rig. Using a good scent, like Pro-Cure Super Gel in Bloody Tuna, Sardine/Pilchard or Mullet flavour will increase your chances of success.


1: Select the right weight jighead for the tidal flow. Just enough weight to get your plastic to the bottom. Remember that you want the fall of the lure to look natural.

2: Use fluorocarbon leader on both your vibes and plastics. If the water is clear, use the lightest leader that you can get away with. Allow a good length of leader, around two metres should be a good start.

3: I like to pop a little super glue on the jighead just before rigging the plastic. This way you will be able to fish it all day.

4: Locate structure, bait and tidal flow, which are the three essentials to find feeding fish.

5: Focus on low light times, such as dawn and dusk. Also, the traffic on the water should be less at this time.

When winter breaming, 'A Dual Approach' can see soft plastics and vibe lures complementing each other in the same fishing session. They can be alternated to suit the time of day, tidal flow, water clarity and mood of the fish, using whichever technique is best for you when fishing in deep water. Expect a bit of bycatch too, such as flathead, tailor, trevally and maybe a jewfish if you're lucky. I hope this helps you with your winter bream sessions and gives you some options for targeting these little Aussie battlers.

Tight lines...

Michael Wright

Gear List:

TT Lures HeadlockZ Finesse Jigheads - 1/16oz - 1/8oz
TT Lures NedlockZ Jigheads

ZMan 2.5" GrubZ - Motor Oil & Midnight Oil colours
ZMan 2.5" Slim SwimZ - Motor Oil, Midnight Oil & Opening Night colours
ZMan 2.75" TRD BugZ
ZMan 2.5" TRD CrawZ
ZMan 3" TRD HogZ

Pro-Cure Bloody Tuna Super Gel Scent - Plus Sardine/Pilchard & Mullet

Platypus Platinum Plus Braid - 6lb
Platypus Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader - 6lb