Squidgie Southern Bream Series: Comp “dry run”

IT had gone 1.30 pm and we’d only just landed our second keeper. Despite that, it was the biggest bream of the day and Tony Burke (no, not that Tony Burke) and I were buoyed by the late flurry of action, after a fairly slow morning’s fishing.

We were on the Georges River in Sydney’s south, a vast waterway that begins where Botany Bay ends. The Georges winds its way for many kilometres west through a contrasting backdrop of modern waterside mansions, ancient sandstone rockwalls, manmade lakes and eventually, industrial wastelands.

Due to its vastness, the Georges can be quite a challenging waterway to fish, even for those who’ve taken the time to uncover some of its secrets. For first-time visitors like NSW South Coast resident Tony, the Georges can understandably seem a daunting venue. Especially as he’ll be fishing a round of the Squidgy Southern Bream Series on the river in a fortnight. As things often go in fishing circles, I hadn’t met Tony prior to that morning. He’s a mate of some of my mates, and one of them, “Dormo”, had suggested that as I lived in southern Sydney I might be able to give Tony some insight into fishing the nearby Georges. It sounded like a good idea, except for the fact I hadn’t fished the area for months…

With some help from a local contact I managed to get an idea on where we might find bream on the right tide, but that was looking tricky. While I’m no bream fishing expert, I’ve caught quite a few on lures in Botany Bay and the Georges River and have a few areas that work well on a high tide. Unfortunately, we had a low tide first up…

Meeting Tony at the ramp, he was non-plussed about our chances of success and just happy to be fishing somewhere new. I’d suggested we head out onto Botany Bay first up to see if we could rustle up some kings on poppers. At this time of year, surface action for these great sportfish can be virtually guaranteed – as long as you can find them. Botany Bay is a fairly industrial waterway, compared to Sydney’s much celebrated Harbour. The city’s air traffic flies low over Botany and the pungent smell of smoking rubber tyres from landing jets fills the air. Unlike planes though, kings were non-existent at their usual hangouts adjacent to the busy airport runways. We decided to give them a miss and get into bream comp mode.

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Tony with a typical Georges River dusky flathead.

On board Tony’s 455 Polycraft – a neat little boat previously owned by another good mate, Phil Petridis – we did a bit of a reconnaissance of the Georges River to familiarise Tony with the areas he’d be fishing in a fortnight. We started around Sylvania Waters – the place made famous by one of the world’s first reality TV shows of the same name – where not surprisingly, some of the boats moored on backyard pontoons look almost as big as the houses. We scored no bream there, but had a few taps on our lures, and Tony was getting an idea of what he was up against.

Back in the river proper, we tried our luck over some flats that featured scattered sections of rock and looked good for a high water bite. No bream there but we picked up a couple of flatties with Tony scoring a nice one. I had my tea sorted.

We tried our luck at a couple more spots. One of them featured deep water near to a rocky point, and some interesting marks on the Lowrance sounder. We fished blade lures down in the depths there, but only managed a good thump without a hookup on my Switchblade.

Shortly after, we finally scored the target species. Tony landed a couple of average sized bream casting a small hard body lure around waterside pontoons. It was a relief to finally get a couple on the board, even if they weren’t quite “keepers”; for those not familiar with bream comps, competitors aim to weigh in their best five “legal” bream of the day (25cm,) before release. After Tony accounted for a couple more it was clear we’d found a patch of bream, so we kept working the area until the bite petered out.

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First bream of the day…

After prospecting a few other areas we headed upstream for a coffee at the Como marina. It was 10.30am. After coffee and a bite I suggested venturing further afield to check out some areas I’d heard were producing fish. As we motored away, Tony mentioned that in a comp situation we only had two hours left to catch five “legal” bream before the 2pm weigh-in deadline. It may have only been a practice session but the pressure was on.
As it turned out we caught quite a few more bream before 1.30pm; time to start making your way back for the weigh-in.

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The author with a “keeper” showing signs of net damaged fins. It took a liking to an Atomic hard body.

All up we landed around 15 bream, unfortunately only two would have been worthy of a stay in the live well on comp day. All were taken on small hard bodies with Tony’s favourite little red and yellow Ecogear minnow and an Atomic he lent me being the standouts (see pics for reference).

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The hot little Ecogear hard body in this bream’s gob is one of Tony’s favourites.

Tony reckoned he’d had a very enjoyable day and had a good idea of the areas he’d concentarte his fishing efforts in a fortnight. I’d also gained some insight into what bream tournament fishers go through when faced with new waters. It also made me appreciate their skills and single-minded determination a whole lot more!

Round One of the 2012 Squidgie Soutrhern Bream Series takes place on Sunday January 29. Info at:

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