Big Blackwood River Black Bream
"By way of an introduction, the Blackwood River is fishable for bream generally from the end of the channel markers downstream of Molloy Island to way up as far as you can possibly go"
Author: Brad Yates

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Last issue I opened up a bit on the Busselton Jetty and all the great fishing it boasts. This time round I thought a bit of a change of scene was in order. I am not trying to steal Mad Phil's spotlight here and focus on breaming but I thought that a bit of local input here and there definitely can not hurt.

Ages ago, Phil and I were doing some film work on the Blackwood River and we were chatting about how bream hit soft plastic lures. A good mate in Brad McDonald was out in his boat as well that weekend and we ended up having the best ever feed at the Karridale Tavern that night, discussing our dayís fishing. By the way, Karridale Tavern does a great pub feed - my favourite is the reef and beef after a good serving of oysters for starters!

I think we all agreed that night over dinner, that the correct term to describe a hit from a Blackwood bream is a DOONK! So here are some tips on doonking in ďDoonksvilleĒ.

Toby Pateman with a kilo plus paddle tail grub caught Blackwood bream

By way of an introduction, the Blackwood River is fishable for bream generally from the end of the channel markers downstream of Molloy Island to way up as far as you can possibly go. The rapids and rocks upstream generally will hold fish, but itís not the best area to be exploring without some local knowledge as many a prop has been lost on the shallow rock bars up that way. For the purpose of this article, I will the keep the techniques relevant for the section of water between the ski area upstream from Molloy Island to the Alexander bridge. This section of the river offers a great array of structure and also lack of structure, which it is at times very important to fish.

To start with and to finish with, I suggest using Pumpkinseed 2 inch grub style plastics with fat style tails compared to thinner tails like those on Snapback Grubs. The Berkley Original Powerbait ones are dynamite, as are also Atomics in Motor Oil, but pretty much any Pumpkinseed grub will work. A dark green will also produce fish. I have had success with some of the Gulp offerings, in and out of tournaments but sometimes they just donít suit right. Plus itís much more satisfying to me to fish without the smell of it. Paddle tails will work too, as one of my mates recently showed me, but they arenít my ďgo toĒ lure. When rigged up on a size 4 jighead, a 2Ē grub is fair game to most Blackwood bream, not to mention some decent sized sand whiting, silver bream, salmon trout and occasional tailor. So with one of these on a light graphite rod, a small reel loaded with 6lb braid and some 6lb fluorocarbon you will see some action at some point. All you need to do is understand where the doonk plays it part.

So find some nice looking ground, be it dead trees in the water, rocks under the water or sand or mud in front of some reeds. Just remember too, that you see more above the water than you do underneath and that you will lose a lot of gear in this river to the stuff that only your sounder will see. The water in this river is usually deep, so cast out and give it plenty of time to hit the bottom. Sometimes you can get lucky and your line takes off for you, but this is getting rare considering the numbers of people fishing the river these days. So, now you are on the bottom, itís time to give it a twitch and let it settle. Then repeat this all the way back to the boat.


The "DOONK" is where the lure is in its mouth for a split second, thats when the hook was set on this fish

Halfway back to the boat you feel a tap. No ... wait a minute, let me describe it better. Through the crisp light graphite rod and sensitive braided line itís more like a deeper kind of hard echoing DOONK. Always be ready for it because when it occurs you have to be able to strike immediately. Letting it go and waiting for another will usually drive you crazy as you wonder why it never came back. The doonk is where the lure is in the mouth of the fish for a split second. Being such a small lure it can be inhaled easily but when the bream has decided that it is not true food itís out of there even quicker. So yeah, as soon as it happens, itís game on.

I know heaps of times the doonk comes when fishing deep and slow ... twitch, twitch DOONK and up goes the rod. In the usual Blackwood manner fish will generally be on for a few seconds, peeling enough line away to get back to its snaggy home, or you will end up with it in your landing net. Thatís just the way it goes. Blackwood bream have to be pound for pound one of the best fighters around. They know the river better than you so you have to be on your game. It revs my engine every time.

I find generally that the deeper bends towards Alexander Bridge will hold fish very regularly, though there are a lot of snags up that way for anglers to lose gear on. Water in the 2-5m range is my second choice and in particular rocks, twigs, deep snags will hold fish at one time or another. The shallower reedy areas further downstream towards Molloy Island, however, are the most underrated fish producers. Fish will get up on the sand and chew bits and pieces off the grassy banks and can be found all up and down the sand bank in those areas. The tea trees that overhang the water in these areas have produced massive fish for some here too, but my heart is further up river and deeper into that sexy dark green water.

And an example of the stunning dark gold that colour up some fis

A few things to remember when doing this for the first time, is a lure retriever and a camera. The lure retriever might save you a bit of gear and time which otherwise would be spent tying knots and leaders.

The camera will give you proof of the wonderful place that you will rave on about when you get back home. Even if there are no fish playing the game, the natural bush running down to the clear water is absolutely stunning, especially between the Alexander and Warner Glen Bridges. And if you get lucky and land a fish or two, just have a look at the colours on them. From almost black backs and deep bronze/golden flanks to an almost olive green back and silver undersides, the Blackwood bream are a stunning quarry. They are well worth the time and effort to chase.