John Didge Lifts The Lid On Southern Bream Tactics

Down south during winter it’s a general thought that you should pack up your fishing gear into the shed, lay back on the couch and do pretty much nothing. Although there have been numerous days down south for me where I tend to agree with them – the reality is there can be some great fishing out there’ All you need to do is get off the couch and go get ’em.
A nice land-based caught bream.

Brenton Hodges caught this Corio Bay stonker on a Hard Body Lure.


Fantastic Fishing Despite The Weather

Cool weather bream fishing can be amazing so long as you apply a few specialized techniques and target particular locations. In this, the Kaydo bream special, I will try to enlighten you and help make your next fishing trip a more memorable and worthwhile experience. My home town of Geelong seems to have a dead spot, a time of year when the normal target species like flathead go off the bite for winter. The whiting slow right down and the totally amazing winter run of snapper are not yet in frisky mode.

Southern Black Bream Shine Through

It’s amazing to see how much the water way can change. Clarity is 20 or more feet and even the crabs are too scared to come out and play. On top of that, the water temp in Corio Bay is a cold 9 degrees. But the good news is that all is not lost there is just one species that is on the go – our southern black bream.
John Didge caught this 45cm Bream hard against the pier in the middle of the day.

John Didge caught this 45cm Bream hard against the pier in the middle of the day.

August and September is when these babies start to really get moving so watch out all unsuspecting little crustations and bait fish. What’s awesome about the schools of bream in Corio Bay at this time of the year is the size of them. They range from small 25cm to at times over 50cm fish. The average is about 35cm with the odd bream about 40-plus centimetres.

Top Target Areas

Lets take a look at target areas before I move onto bait. Cruising around the bay looking to fish over the shallow water sand banks is not the done thing in the Bay. During this time of the year the fishery is really more suited to the land based fisho and although you will catch bream from a boat, I am happy to say that the fisherman of the bank are very likely catch a lot more of them.

Early And Late In The Day

As with most types of fishing the early morning and late evening generally be the best times to target Bream. They like the darker conditions to ambush there prey and in nearly every place I have ever fished for bream, during these low light conditions they will nearly always spread out a bit further and move away from the structure they call home.

Sticking To The Structure

As the sun get higher in the sky the bream will move closer into the structure until by about 9am until 4pm they are in the shadows. There are a couple of important notes to remember here September in Geelong for example the Bream that are in or under jetties generally feed all through the day. But the bream feeding under moored boats will nearly always move out to deep water structure at low tide. As the tide rises they will make there way back to the moored boats and by the time the tide has flooded they will be back into full feed mode. This tip is also relevant if the high water is during the middle of the day.
Butter Fish and Pinky Snapper can be a common by-catch when targeting Bream.

Butter Fish and Pinky Snapper can be a common by-catch when targeting Bream.

Bait, Lure, Soft Plastics And Fly

You can catch Bream in Geelong on all method of bait, lure, soft plastics and fly. Although I am a soft plastics fisho, this is one of the only times of the year I will use bait. In my case a live bass yabby or nipper. If you’re planning to hit the areas I’m talking about with 10lb or maybe 15lb line forget it – this is a finesse fishery.

Go Light For More Bites

John Didge caught this 45cm Bream hard against the pier in the middle of the day.

John Didge caught this 45cm Bream hard against the pier in the middle of the day.

Soft plastic fishing at this time of the year is all about 4lb or 6lb line very light Jig Heads and finesse pattern plastics. My preferred Plastic is a Turtle Back Worm in color Pumpkin Seed or Camo. A motor oil red Damiki Monster Miki fished on a Jig Man size 2 hook and a 1/16oz Allrounder or a 3/32oz Worm Nose Jig Head is also a gun plastic.

Fish The Plastic Deep

  The idea here is to get the soft plastic to the bottom slowly but not to slow get it right and the strikes will be sharp and aggressive. There are however some small tip I want to offer. Often I see soft plastic anglers cut down there plastics because they think this is easier to eat by the fish. In nearly all cases, especially in Corio Bay, this will prevent you from catching bream. It’s important to keep the soft plastic the way it was made to ensure the natural look when falling.
Paul Mayer  fishes hard and this Bream fell to a well presented Crab that was bigger than a 50cent piece.

Paul Mayer fishes hard and this Bream fell to a well presented Crab that was bigger than a 50cent piece.

Bait Fishing Tactics

In the world of bait its very very simple always un-weighted (there is very little or no current in Corio Bay). A size 1 or 2 hook and put your nipper on and let it drift down to the bottom. In most cases the yabby will not get to the bottom if the bream are on the chew. If you don’t have access to bass yabbies, live crabs or prawns work equally well. An important note here is to make sure that when collecting your bass yabbies –  if they are small you are better to put 2 on the hook.  Fishing unweighted is hard enough to cast already. You need to get as much weight as you can without taking away the natural look of the bait drifting down in the water towards the bottom.

Fish Close To Structure

Another tip while I am on a roll is to land your bait as close to the hull of the boat or jetty as you can. This is especially the case when the sun is high in the sky and when casting on the moored boats. Cast as far out along the hulls as the many ropes will allow you to. This will give you a definite increase in catch rates. Don’t pass this tip onto your mates if they are not Kaydo members they don’t deserve the wisdom if have imparted upon you.

For Frozen Bait Fishos

Reece Bryant caught this Bream on a Bass Yabby a matter of a week ago.

Rhys Bryant caught this Bream on a Bass Yabby a matter of a week ago.

If, God forbid, you are a frozen bait angler, I am so sorry you have that condition but do not despair. Frozen prawns will work very well also, the only thing I suggest is to look at the frozen bait if it doesn’t look good the fish probably wont take it. Fresh is best. Slow Retrieved Luring Is Best Hard Body lure fisho’s – I don’t have much for you’ All I can say is that the bream in Corio Bay respond very well to an ultra slow retrieve. They love small minnow patterns like SX40, stripes on the lure is another good option. Lure fisherman tend to be a fickle bunch and I like them to choose for themselves the lure of choice they tend to no there stuff. Although in this article most of the talk has centered around my home town of Geelong, the technique’s  can be used for most locations around this great country of ours. The only variable will be line breaking strains and hook sizes.

Good luck and remember to only take what fish you need and to take your rubbish home with you.

John Didge

About John Didge

Owner and C.E.O of The Jigman John has had a passion for Soft plastics for the last 30 years and is widely renowned as one of the best in his field of Soft Plastics. But the passion really kicked in about 20 years back and In 1990 it basically become Johns only form of fishing, dedicating himself totally to fishing Soft plastics and nothing else. His reputation is as a big Flathead specialist travelling the coastline of Southern Australia in search of big Flathead and as Captain of Team Jigman along with Paul Mayer and Adam Van De Lugt The Jigman team is well known and it has sent fear into the minds of the Dusky Chasers (trash Talk). John Didge is also well respected in the fishing Media as host of the Geelong Fishing Show for the last 26 years but also on stage talking about fishing at Fishing expos and angling clubs (He never shuts up about Plastics Fishing). Second in the Media Classic during the 90’s at lake Mulwala, 6 time winner of the Conjola Flathead teams invitational (Dodgy little mates event), winner of the Mallacoota Reel it in Flathead Challenge in November 2013 and following it up next year with winning the Narooma Flathead Challenge in Feb 2014 and taking out Big Fish with an 81.5cm Flathead in Narooma Flathead Challenge in 2015.


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