by Jarrod Day
It was one of those freezing cold nights, winter had set in and I was busy tuned into the local news on the television. Watching the weather forecast about the localised snow fall on the Alps, my phone beeped with a text message 'rains fell last week, rivers up, big bream on the chew.' How can any angler refute making a trip after receiving a message like that? I was keen to say the least and after last year’s winter bream session, was ever so keen to get back to Gippsland.
Winter bream are bigger than at other times of the year.
The following day I had headed off after work, the Jeep was packed with all the goods and with a three hour drive before me; I was like a panting dog after a long walk, tongue out and all.
The next morning we awoke early and found ourselves launching in almost below freezing temperatures. The sun was just breaking the horizon sending a shimmer of light over the slightly swollen river. The trip was short; Lowrance’s side scan technology showing every intricate detail of the bank as we slowly cruised towards the mouth of the river, the same location we had found the brutes last winter.
Small white dots appearing here and there along the banks edge, under submerged timber and boat hulls were shown on the screen but as we came to the rock wall, the picture gave us a clear indication of what were up against.
By this time, the sun was over the tree tops on the horizon and with the tide coming to its end we only had the best part of thirty minutes to get into them.
It was winter, cold, foggy and with our fingers almost snap frozen; I was pleased to have already had my rods rigged. Frank made the first cast; within half a foot of the banks edge the lure entered the water with a slight splash. The slackness in the braid slowly drifted towards the waters surface until it lay gently across it almost motionless. A wind of the reels handle and a flick of the rod tip vibrated the metal vibe a few feet above the bottom only to allow it to once again rest on the muddy bottom. With a slight pause, the line flicked and in that instant, frank had struck embedding the hooks into a solid fish. The fish darted left and right pulling what drag it could from the reel. Slowly, it came boat side and swam directly into the net; one down lets hit them again.
Finding winter bream:
When winter set in throughout Victoria, bream begin their spawning cycle. Rains in the mountain ranges flow through the streams filling up the rivers. As the fresh arrives and the rivers swell, bream make the trek from the snags in which they inhabit for most part of the year and take up residence in the middle of the rivers and river mouths to begin their spawning cycle.
For an angler, this is the prime time to search the river mouths where they can be found in quite large schools. Most of the time they will be on the edges where the waters current isn’t as strong or if the river isn’t flowing to fast will be schooled up in its middle.
Just rocking up to a river and casting about wont necessarily be a productive day on the water, rather you’ll be doing all your searching with a lure and when your only casting something an inch long to and fro, finding numbers of fish will be an impossible task. With such advanced technology, sounders such as Lowrance’s HDS range with added structure scan takes all the hard work and guessing out of the equation. With the ability to drive down the middle of a river and the sounder looking to the left and right takes out all of the guess work of successfully finding fish. This will then give you more fishing time and when you’re faced with big finicky fish that will only bite on day break, you need as much luring time as you can get. With technology as such, once fish are found you can deploy your arsenal of lures.
Make it count:
Bream may be schooled up in numbers but casting accuracy is still very important. Though they may be grouped together, larger fish are often separate from the smaller models and may only be in clumps of five or less. When casting, you’ll already know their location so make sure the cast is accurate. In some instances you may have tidal pressure and water flow to contend with so take that into consideration. Once the cast is made, allow enough time for the lure to reach the bottom. Remember, vibes are weighty and are attacked when left to rest on the bottom. As the lure sinks you’ll notice the line is tight, once it it’s the bottom, the line will slacken, it is at this point you count to 5, wind up the slack and lift the rod tip a meter or so in the air before allowing the lure to hit the bottom again before repeating the process. The purpose for the pause is as the lure vibrates, nearby fish will be attracted to it, as it rests, it is vulnerable and they will attack it.
Vibes, vibes and more vibes, you can never have enough. Though metal vibes are highly effective lures, their design does allow for them to become snagged and lost. They are fitted with two treble hooks and when you’re working the bottom you will often get snagged on debris. To avoid this, you can retro fit them with double hooks to prevent snagging but each to their own I say, I prefer trebles for maximum hook set.
What I do find however is some colours do out fish others. When fishing in murky water, which during winter is most of the time, darker colours prevail. Blacks, browns and dark reds always get a strike on any given day. Unfortunately though, I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a variety of colours on hand and ensure you have a few of each colour. The last thing you need is to find a colour that works lose it and don’t have another to continue your success.
Metal vibes also come in a range of sizes from 30mm to 50mm for bream. With so much choice your tackle box can get a little out of hand but providing you have a fair selection of 30, 35 and 40mm vibes you’ll be set.
Vibes will also differ in their design from brand to brand and at the end of the day, they all do the same thing and have the same action. When purchasing, remember you are going to lose quite a few so there is no need to spend upwards of $15 on a vibe only to lose it on your first cast. My success over the years has all come on the one brand, Instinct Twitch. The reason being is that they have the colour choice fish want to eat and the cost is only around $10 each if you purchase them in a twin pack.
Gear of choice:
Another very important aspect of vibe fishing is the gear that is used. Due to the lightness of the lures, heavy artillery won’t get the desired effect from the lure. In this cast you really need to go as light as you can with your outfit. The ideal setup is a 1000 series reel with either 4 or 6lb braid, 5lb leader and a 1-3kg rod. Those getting into the sport like to have a general purpose outfit to cover them for bream, salmon, trevally etc: whereby a 2-4kg rod, 25000 series reel will suffice.
My preferred outfit is a Wilson 'Blade n Tails' Ultra Light with Shimano Rarenium 1000 reel. The outfit itself weighs only around 400g so it is very light in the hand allowing hundreds of casts before your arm becomes tired.
This style of fishing requires a finesse approach and it is imperative it is done right the first time otherwise you’ll just give up.
Winter bream fishing is fast paced, fierce and a whole lot of fun. Take the right approach, rig up right and go get yourself some bream.