ONE Winter’s day my friend Eddy asked me to bring my fly gear over to his home at Newport Waterways on the Redcliffe Peninsula for a session on bream. I’m very proud of my Strudwick DBT #6-weight fly rod and Taimer TR 3 fly reel, and I reverently stowed them in my car with a box of flies from my last fishing trip and headed off to Eddy’s place.
I arrived late in the afternoon and, when I noticed some swirls on the water, asked my host for some stale bread. It was high tide – a major plus for berleying because the bread doesn’t float off down the canal and take the fish with it.
The banks of the Newport canals consist of light grey sand, gravel (in the newer stages) or large boulders. The boulders in particular house a variety of small baitfish and prawns. After talking with one guy who was throwing a castnet, I discovered that they net a good bucketload of king prawns with little effort. And as we all know, bream love prawns! The bank that backs Eddy’s land consists of boulders, and his neighbours’ pontoons provide the perfect habitat for bream.
Eddy returned with half a loaf of bread just as I was tying on a bread fly that I normally use for catching mullet. My bread flies are dubbed with white egg yarn and tied on a size 10 Gamakatsu L10-3H hook. Used with a floating weight forward line, these flies imitate a small piece of bread very well. In the beginning the fly floats for five to 10 seconds and then it sinks slowly to the bottom.
I cast the fly as close to the action as possible and allowed it to sink about 30cm. I then retrieved the fly very slowly, keeping in contact with it at all times so that I could feel any takes. Using a slow retrieve has another benefit – when you feel the take you already have the line in your hands to strip-set, which is more efficient than striking with the rod.
With the aid of polarised sunglasses, I’ve noticed the larger bream hang at least 30cm under the surface, waiting for sinking crumbs to reach them, so I let my fly sink to that level before I start the retrieve. If I don’t get any takes, on my next cast I allow the fly to sink a little deeper before I commence my retrieve – and so on until I find where the fish are holding.
We scrunched two slices of bread, threw them on the water and waited. The fish soon began chowing down on the berley, but I waited for them to build up confidence and really start to feed vigorously. I noticed some big fish backs breaking the surface, so I cast the fly just short of the action and started retrieving very slowly. The fly was hit several times on each retrieve, and on about the tenth cast I strip-set the hooks into a 275mm bream that put up an exciting fight. We gave the fish to Eddy’s wife Helen, and she disappeared into the kitchen to steam it.
Eddy and I fished for an hour and landed five bream and one 450mm gar, all of which (aside from the first bream) were released. It was great fun for one hour’s fly fishing after work, especially as I didn’t have to get wet or launch a boat!
We went inside to escape the sandflies and sat down to Helen’s steamed bream – the best bream meal I’ve ever had! – Robert Jarvis.