By Grayson Fong
Over the past few years tournament fishing has really taken off in our country and it’s not hard to see why. We are so rich in fisheries and species that can test any angler in any situation. The most popular tournaments have been the bream based competitions. Bream are available all year round and almost all over the country. Let’s look at the basics to getting into bream tournament fishing and some will see it’s not as hard as it first seems.
What Are These Tournaments
Bream tournaments are open to anyone in the general public, with Australian Bream Tournaments or ABT being the national association that sets the rules and keeps things fair. Their website www.bream.com.au is all you need to familiarize yourself with the scene and you will soon learn where the nearest tournament is to your home waters. Beyond the ABT, there are a multitude of competitions run by various organisations all over the country and by far, the easiest and most rewarding competitions are the Team events. Here you get to fish with a partner of your choosing as opposed to a nominated one in the ABT tournaments.
The rules are quite simple. Teams of two anglers have to catch five legal bream in the allocated session time (roughly 7hrs). So it’s a great way to grab a mate or a family member or even your wife to test your skills. Three well known comps that are run on the east coast are the Gamakatsu Team Series (GTS), Berkley Evinrude Teams Series (BETS) and Vic Bream tournaments. They allow anglers to test themselves in several different arenas and in doing so have the chance to win great prizes. Visit www.fishingcomps.com.au, www.betsbream.com.au or www.vicbreamclassics.com.au for more details.
Many of these competitions now have online entry making it easier access, but make sure your boat complies with the rules for the series you wish to fish. All fish are weighed in live, meaning at a minimum your boat must have a live well large enough to accommodate at least five bream.
What gear do you need??
This is the fun stuff, your fishing gear. Here are some pointers to get you on the right track –
Spin outfits are the common choice amongst anglers as lures and soft plastics used tend to be of lightweights (3-4grams). Rod length is paramount as longer casting distances often maximize your catch chances, especially when fishing along weedy rubble flats. Aim for lightweight rods around 7ft in length. (eg Samurai Reaction Estuary Range)
Reel size should be around the 1000-2500 range. (Depending on brand)
Line strength can be anything you are comfortable with but to increase your catch rates, lighter braided lines and light leaders work exceptionally well. You can choice to use a braid/leader combination (I use Unitika Aorika braid up to 10lb and Unitika Aiger III fluorocarbon 4-6lb) or you may choose to fish with fluorocarbon straight through. (I use Unitika Silver Thread Fluorocarbon up to 3lb)
Lures are seemingly endless and a product many anglers can’t help but buy lots of. As there are so many, I though I’d take you through a few I use.
Atomic Crank 38 (Mid and Deep) – casting these tight to structure of over weed beds and using what they call a slow roll is a great way to catch fish. A slow roll is simply a steady but slow retrieve that sees the lure wobble from side to side.
Atomic Shiner 45, Atomic Bream Shad (Mid and Deep) – both these are types of suspending lures, so , they have neutral buoyancy. This means you can employ a slow roll mixed with a pause which will see the lure sit there and not float to the surface. They are great on slow or shutdown fish where the lure can sit right in front of their face allowing them time to decide to strike.
Megabass Baby Griffon – This is a great lure for very shallow water work. Again a slow roll can be used for this lure.
Megabass Dog X Jr – This is a surface lure which casts a long way and is retrieved using the walk the dog pattern. Wobbling your rod tip while you wind will see the lure dart from side to side. Dont forget to also add occasional pauses as this is when most hits from bream come.
Soft Plastics are another option that can be used to entice Bream. Plastics that work well on bream tend to be around the 2-3″ in length with action imparted by the angler. Hops off the bottom and erratic rips with occasional pauses work best as they closely imitate dead or dying baitfish. Again long pauses will also tempt wary bream.
Atomic Plazos are a great starter plastic with models like the 2 3/4″ Jerk Minnow and 2″ Fat Grubs and Prongs being a delectable choice amongst bream around Australia. Rigged on a jig head (eg. Atomic Seekerz) these plastics can be used in both deep and shallow waters with jig head weight determined by current, wind and structure targeted. Ideally you want your lure in the strike zone as long as possible, so think about that when you choose a jig head.
Get Out There
So there are some key tips to get you started amongst the bream tournament scene throughout Australia. Armed with this knowledge feel free to back yourself and get out there and show them how it’s done. Contrary to popular belief, at the teams events, they’re not all experts running around catching all the fish, so you are as good as the next bloke. If nothing else, you may learn some new techniques to help you catch more fish in general.
What’s next after Team Events??
After you have tested out the waters in bream teams events, a great way to expand your knowledge is to try the ABT DAIWA BREAM SERIES. This series runs a different format of fishing where anglers can enter as a boater or a non boater. Boaters provide their own boat and are teamed up randomly each day with a non boater. By entering these events as a non boater, it’s an excellent way for beginners to learn from more seasoned bream anglers to ultimately gain enough knowledge and confidence to be boaters in the future.
Fishing the ABT DAIWA BREAM SERIES provides a great way to meet like minded anglers who enjoy their hobby as much as the next person. As daunting as beginners may find entering these events, it can speed up the process of learning with the experience fishing with good anglers can only provide. Give it a go!!