Hodgey

'Hodgey's How-to Guide using Poppers

30 posts in this topic

Rack Raider rod (or similar), 6'6" - 7', 1 pce

Suitable 2000-size reel

4-8lb braid, 80cm of 10-14lb flurocarbon leader

55 - 65cm Popper of your choice

Nice pickup!

Measurement has now been corrected

Hodgey, are you sure you meant to correct the measurements? Apparently some people do make big lures!

post-4381-1237348242_thumb.jpg

I know it's not a popper but ... :074:

Cheers

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Hi guys

I am bumping this one to the surface again - as there is some terrific top water action going on in the shallows right now - if you haven't tried it - give it a go!! Hodgey's post will set you up for it!!

It is hard to believe that it is really 6 years ago that Hodgey was giving us all tips on how to catch bream on topwater - I know that it kick started ME into catching them - as up til then, I'd really only targetted flatties on SPs. Since then, I've had a great deal of success in landing some good fish here in Forster (my biggest bream was a 45cm bruiser in the racks - and if I hadn't been tied to a pole at the time, it would have dragged me back to it's hidey hole & busted me off!!!)

SO ...... I thought I'd put together all the things that I try to think of whilst out there fishing for topwater in the shallows (bream, whiting and, yes, even flatties!) And it became a bit of an 'essay' :074: ........ so here it is!!

I often go out with fellow yakkers trying to get them on to good bream (in particular) when they are visiting Forster & I know that they are disappointed if they don't necessarily hook up during the session .......

I've been going thru some of the procedures that I try to remember when out on the water chasing Big Blue Nose Bream in Forster ...... as It can be tricky getting into decent bream consistently - just ask any Bream Tournament Angler!! And our lake here (Wallis Lake) is targetted a LOT ..... so the fish are often very wary! However, once you have prepared yourself with as much knowledge as you can - it is then just a matter of trying to bring it all together on the day to see how it works out - hopefully with some nice fish pics on your camera!

Looking back over the last few years that I've been catching breambos on top water - here are a few tips that may assist you in hooking a wary bream!! You may not LAND them all, but you SHOULD get more hookups - which means you are doing the right thing - then it is just a matter of refining your bits to land those 'blue noses'!

It is often about thinking a bit like a fish!! Just as Real Estate is all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION ........... Bream like STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE

Be GAME ..... I used to yank my lure AWAY from structure, as I was scared to lose the lure (either to a snag or big fish! DUH!!) You have to be prepared to lose gear to get big fish! Pure & simple!


Basically, if you can see the bream, you are too close to them.

First up ......

1) Check what line you currently have on your reels (I write it on the inside of the spool so I don't forget!) & what line can be cast from your rod (the line rating should be written on your rod up near the reel seat.) Lighter, whippier rods will cast lighter lines a LONG WAY - stiffer rods won't! In most cases, 6lb braid would be the highest you would need - with the leader varying from 4-8lb to 20lb depending on where you are fishing (heaviest leader for oyster covered rocks, racks or poles!) You may need to upgrade your rod to a lighter, whippier one, to get the distance & accuracy that you need! I have had great success with 8lb SAS Braid in recent months - it is MUCH thinner than most braids on the market & is really 'limp' as well, so casts beautifully!

2) Practise! Practise! Practise!! You just need to get your SP or lure as close to the bream as possible with YOU being as far away as possible - and that requires practise. Really WHIP the rod tip to get the extra distance! You should hear it 'whistle' thru the air.

3) Work out what your casting length is with each rod/reel combo - and then stay THAT far away from your target. Also with those lighter lines, you can toss really light lures - TT Hidden Weight Jig Heads are terrific - with lighter lines, you can go with the 1/28th to 1/40th weights (as the SP adds a little weight as well), making it more castable. The SP then wafts down thru the water column enticing them to strike, instead of a heavier jig head going CLUNK onto the bottom, spooking every fish within range! With the lighter braid (4lb or less if fishing the flats ie no oyster covered leases to be busted off on) you can cast SO MUCH FURTHER, the bream only see the lure/sp, not YOU.

4) Always fish the SHADED side of any structure first. The fish love hiding on the shadey side, not the side that has full sun on it. As the sun swings around later in the afternoon, fish the other side.

5) If you drop a fish, give that area a break for 1hr or so, then go back & try again! Chances are, he is still there! They can be territorial.

6) Try & put the wind BEHIND you (on your back), to take advantage of the longer cast and really crank it out! It makes a HUGE difference!

7) Jigheads: Fish the lightest jighead that you can for the given conditions! There is no point using a really light jighead when it is being taken away by the current and sitting just cms in the water when the fish are down deeper! With heavier jigheads, target deeper fast moving water - with lighter jig heads, target shallower or slower moving water - unless it is right at the turnaround of the tide - & then you could try it then in deeper water for about 1/2-1hr before it starts to pick up again. Light gear is perfect for using along the front of oyster lease washboards - as the bream stick their noses out from under the bottom of the boards (which can go from as shallow as cms at low tide (or fully exposed!) to .5m+ or more below the water level at high tide) as they wait for food to waft past them. Even in biggish currents, you can still use them in that scenario - I pulled a terrific bream off one lease fence in the Breck Channel here & it was with a reasonably fast running current - he put up a big fight too! When the current is faster, they have to make their minds up quicker & the hits can be colossal! Thank God for the Hobie - I could pedal away whilst trying to prevent him from going back into the lease, as I couldn't wind, the fish was putting THAT much pressure on me!! It took BOTH hands to skull drag him out far enough so I could then 'play him'!

The smaller weighted jig heads (TT HWS in particular) are perfect for shallower water around jetties & boats hulls - you can even skip the SP across the top of the water so it hits the boat hull & drops (it takes a bit of practise but well worth learning how) as the fish associate that with a fleeing prawn or shrimp & are more likely to hoon over & literally, gulp it down - sorry for the pun! The 'weight' is hidden by the SP - so if you actually hit the boat, it doesn't sound like a gunshot going off & shouldn't spook the fish!! Gulp 2" Shrimps in particular are terrific for this!! The slow motion as they fall thru the water is often irresistible to fish!

8) Fish the areas that the current and/or wind is pushing ON TO!! This is usually where the bigger fish are sitting facing IN TO THE CURRENT, waiting for bait & scraps to come towards them with the incoming or outgoing tide. (They often sit in behind the poles so that they are protected (in the Lee of the current) so they don't have to use so much energy swimming against the current.) So on the incoming tide here in Forster, fish the bridge end of the leases. When the tide changes - go to the opposite end of the leases! Target the corners - the current slows even more around the corners!

9) Do your homework - At low tide, make an effort to go out to your favourite waters (or if visiting a new spot) so that you can see exactly where any rocky areas are or oyster clumps that may be submerged at high tide! They are often high & dry at the lower tides ...... and even then you you can still fish around the area, as the bigger fish are sitting 'just off the rubble' waiting for the smaller fish to look for safer water as the tide recedes. So, on higher tides - you cast towards those rocky areas, whether you can see them or not!! When covered with water, the fish will be all over them, eating the shrimp etc that are on there - plus of course, the water 'slows' as it goes over & around these obstacles, allowing food particles/critters to drop in front of their faces! THey also hang off the edge of the shallows, knowing that the yabby holes are now accessible, and they suck them out of th e holes - look for craters in the sand where there are also yabby/worm holes. The big fish hang around all these spaces!!

10) Definitely target obvious structure like piers & jetties - under the water line all the poles would be covered with marine growth, with small shrimps hiding amongst the growth. The fish hang around, as they know the shrimp have to move lower as the tide falls - and pick them off!! Sometimes you can hear a 'bream kiss' - it sounds a bit like when you do an exaggerated 'kiss' sound ...... this is when the bream are sucking the shrimp/worms RIGHT AT WATER LEVEL out of the marine growth or between oysters that have grown onto the poles, rocks etc

Other 'structure' can be the hulls of boats - the less maintained, the better. These also have marine growth all over the bottom of the hull & once again the fish hang around these ones, rather than nice clean hulls that are maintained regularly. If you can't find any dirty boats, just cast up under ANY boat, as the fish are also hiding in the shadows.

Rocky oyster covered Outcrops - there are ALWAYS fish hanging around these areas - they can be abandoned leases or just an area in them middle of a big sand/weed flats that has structure in the way of oyster clutter.

Poles - there are marker poles & buoys all round most estuaries, marking shallow areas, 4 knot speed limits etc - same thing - the water slows as it goes around them. Consider every pole as a Bream Magnet - especially the bigger poles, eg around oyster leases. I tend to put the lure just past the pole if possible & with the SPs, just let them waft down, before starting to retrieve (they go down SO slowly you need to count between 5-10 depending on the depth of the water) so they get down to their level! THen just slowly 'roll/wind your reel so the lure goes past the pole nice & close & be ready for a hit at any moment - if you don't strike hard enough with rod held high, they will wrap you round the pole in a millisecond & bust you off! You have to turn their head so it is facing you & just skull drag them out!

Trees - along the edge of the river as you go further up the system, you will find fallen down trees. There are always fish hanging around these bits, as the shrimp & smaller bait fish hide in there as well!

Leases - every pole is a winner here! The more oysters on them, the better!! When the tides are moving ONTO poles, cast towards the pole & immediately start retrieving slowly, or you may get snagged or taken under the lease when the fish strikes. You must be ready for a strike with every cast so try & keep the rod tip up so you are in contact with your lure at all times. Also, cast towards poles where the water is coming OFF the poles - you can just leave the SP or lure there a bit longer, as the fish would be expecting their food to be going away from them in the tide!

Out on the flats, always cast across the 'sand patch' that you see in the middle of a massive weed patch! You need good Polarised glasses to see these sand patches. Bream & flatties are usually hanging around those! Blackfish guard these sand patches as good breeding spots - and often it is the bigger fish that hang around these spots. Also, if the bay is lined with mangrove trees, cast towards the shore - lots of shrimp/bait fish hide amongst the mangrove roots (that you see sticking out of the sand at low tide) and the big fish know it!

11) DO YOUR DRAG UP REALLY TIGHT WHEN FISHING SNAGGY AREAS! Whilst fishing the flats - you can afford to be able to 'pull the line off the reel by hand' - but when fishing racks & snaggy areas - you MUST tighten the drag so that you cannot pull the line off by hand! Believe me - even then - a BIG BREAM will!

12) REALLY CONCENTRATE!! You need to concentrate FULLY on what you are doing. If a fish strikes when you are in 'la la' land ...... you'll be stitched up immediately & busted off before you even realise you'd hooked up! Be prepared for a strike at any moment & lift the rod tip high to set the hooks! In the Hobie, have the rudder already pointing AWAY from the structure, so that if you get a whopper, you can just hang on to it whilst you pedal AWAY FROM THE STRUCTURE! Sometimes, the fish is pulling so hard it is difficult to actually wind the reel! All the more reason to try & just skull drag them out of their hidey hole to clearer water, THEN start to 'play them'! If in a paddle yak - just try like hell to use one side of the paddle to get out of there!!

13) Study the Fishing Reports of people who catch good bream consistently - there are usually little 'tips' in each report that you can pick up on! Copy the tips & put them in to one document so that you can read them now & then to refresh your memory on 'what to do'! Take them with you when you travel so you have some 'light reading' at night! Go to the ABT site & read up on THEIR Tournament results (particularly if you are fishing one of THEIR locations, like Forster, Port Macquarie etc) - the winners usually give you tips on what they used & how they used it to tempt the biggies on to their hooks ........ just as important as LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION and STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE, STRUCTURE it is also RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!! I have been thru every ABT report on Forster & copied lots of info from them!

You may get some lucky sessions now & then where (for no particular reason other than you just cast there) you get hit after hit after hit - try & make a note of the conditions that may have influenced this HOT session - what the tide is doing - fast, slow or stopped, is it sunny or overcast? Are there baitfish around that you can see or nothing? Is the water clear or dirty? All these can factor in on a 'hot bite' or 'no bite'! Try & duplicate it on your next session - even in different areas!

It is often a "cast of thousands" - but when you hit that BIG BLUE NOSE BREAM and actually LAND IT & got the pics to PROVE IT - it is all worth while - and then you just hope your gear is up to the battle!! Getting a better quality reel can also help - if your drag is lumpy and erratic - it can cost you a fish. I love my Certates now - they are Mag Sealed so have less chance of water getting in to the gears - and the drag is nice & smooth. Always crank up the drag to 'tight as' after you've finished fishing & get your hose & put it on the finest mist spray that you can - and lightly spray all over the reel & your rod to get rid of any salt buildup that may have occurred during the session. Tap the rod handle to get rid of excess water & then loosen the drag right off. You should never leave your drag fully done up, as it compresses the washers & can make your drag less effective when you really need it for a big fish! Look after your gear & it will look after your fish!!

SO ........ I hope this has whetted your appetite for getting out there & searching for some big bream ...... they are where you find them! You just have to put the hard yards in ......... and the rewards will come!

Don't forget to change your lures - try not to get stuck on the one lure type all session - much as I love topwater, if they aren't working on that particular day, you should also try SPs and/or divers to try & work out what they want on that particular day.

cheers & tight lines

Roberta

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Great work Roberta, thank you.

Edited by Testlab

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Wow, the definitive work on catching Bream, should be published in hard cover.

I have printed the lot out for keeping in the boat.

Thanks all who contributed

Cheers

Paikea

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Thank you Roberta for taking the time to post such detailed and helpful information.

Reading one of your reports a couple of months back inspired me to get out there and give the surface lures a shot and I had some success too!

Thank you also to Hodgey and everyone else who has contributed to this thread.

All the best

Ian

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