Want to lure up a few trout? All you need to do is to break out your bream stick and your favourite bream hard-bods and pretend you’re bream fishing!
LURE fishing is a funny game – sometimes when we cross from one species of fish to another, there’s a fair degree of negative transfer to overcome. It’s kind of fun to change species and actually find that most of the tactics and lures you’re using for the new fish happen to work brilliantly.
The best positive transfer I know about in lure fishing is from bream to trout. It’s no secret that the humble bream has now become a fairly popular fish which can be caught on a wide variety of lures and lure fishing methods, but it might be less well known that just about all of these tactics really belt trout.
If you want a different kind of fun all you have to do is head up to the mountains with exactly the same rods, reels, lines and lures and to fish for bream in fresh water. You won’t catch many bream but you will catch a stack of trout.
Some bream lures and tactics that work well for trout are real “no-brainers” because they were designed to catch trout in the first place. Lauri Rapala carries the rap for carving the most famous wooden minnows of all time and I’m pretty sure he had no idea when he carved those lures back in the 1930s that they would interest a shiny, flat, saltwater fish in Australia. Of course, minnow lures of all brands and types now appear in the tackle boxes of dedicated bream fishos in every Australian state. There are probably plenty of anglers who don’t know or care that the original minnow type lures were invented to catch inland spotted wrigglers in the first place.
As far as tactics go with the minnows, anything that works for bream works even better with trout. The beautiful thing with bream is that they are fussy, sceptical fish and if you can make one of them eat your lure, you have probably done everything right Trout actually want to eat your lure. They are aggressive, opportunist hunters. Watching a big brown trout charge a little floating minnow brings to mind visions of lions and zebras rather than sneaky bream.
Trout are found in all the spots bream like as well – structure, drop-offs, shallow flats and even in deep featureless water. You can cast your minnows or add a bit of trolling to your game. Most bream boats have an electric motor and trolling along silently with a minnow out the back is just deadly for trout.
Small vibes are also just murderous on trout, which is something that might not be quite as well known. You can rock up to just about any trout water even without a boat and expect to catch trout on a vibe. Vibes are so good because they are very versatile and you can easily cover a wide depth range. All the normal bream tactics work on trout including the “bottom hop” and the “burn and stop”. One tactic that works a lot better on trout than bream is a simple straight steady wind. If the day is overcast or the water is shallow, cast your lure as far as you can and start winding even before the lure hits the water, while keeping the rod tip high. This will keep the vibe running shallow. You might have to vary the speed from flat-out to a bit slower to suit the mood of the trout.
Weight is probably more important than size when you are targeting trout on vibes. Heavy vibes allow you to cast a lot further and that fairly fast retrieve will still keep the lure up shallow if you want it in that part of the water column. The heavy vibe of course makes it easy to go down deep if you want to try that. One thing is for sure in any of our trout impoundments – the fish are in there somewhere, they can’t get out! With a vibe you can really cover all sorts of water very quickly.
Bream love eating things off the surface and anglers employ all sorts of poppers, dog-walkers and fizzers to catch them when they are in the surface mood. Trout also like to hunt the surface, especially at night. Trout will eat just about any lure that bream will take, but I’ve succeeded best with small lures that just zigzag across the surface. A small walk-the-dog style lure fished fairly gently at night will generally bring some sort of action. Back in the dim mists of time when Tassie’s Lake Pedder was filling, anglers used giant surface lures with fizzer blades attached to catch the occasional monster fish. A strike on a “fish-cake”, as those lures were known, was apparently fairly scary but after talking to some of the guys who used them, I get the idea that strikes were few and far between. I guess we will never know, but I think even in those halcyon days a small surface lure fished on high-tech modern bream gear would have pulled a lot more fish.
Lure fishing for bream, especially the competition aspect of the sport, has really seen a rapid refinement of the terminal tackle side of things. Sophisticated leader knots such as the light-line Slim Beauty and the widespread use of fine braided line and light fluorocarbon leader material have given bream anglers the tools to really fish well for trout without really trying.
I find it quite interesting that the early bream lure fishers borrowed and adapted techniques, tackle and lures first used by trouties in this country and now the best bream anglers can take these things back up to the mountains with deadly effect.
Give it a go!