by Kris Hickson | Australian Lure Fishing

Tweed River Mangrove Jack Map

Kris’ Top Tips For Oyster Rack Fishing

  • Fishing oyster racks is a year round option when fishing at Forster, but the winter months are the prime time for big bream.
  • Get there fast, then fish slow. There is so much fish holding structure in this system, don’t waste time on fish that aren’t active. Move on to the next fishy location, but once there work your lures very slowly.
  • There is no room for error with bream when you’re oyster rack fishing. When your lure gets eaten, strike hard and wind hard as you have seconds to get them away from cover before you get smoked.
  • Avoid the slack water periods – “no fun means no fun” applies here as it does in most estuary fishing scenarios. Kris prefers the low tide periods when fish are accumulated in the deeper water in from of and between racks. At high tide they can be fun but are harder to catch as they can move all over the racks.
  • Oyster rack bream tend to be less skittish than bream holding on other structure, so you can use the heavier leaders required to have a chance of getting them into the boat.
  • Move quietly. Even though bream are less skittish in the racks than elsewhere, moving stealthily with an electric motor will reduce the chances of spooking them.
  • Using easy to see braid gives the angler a good strike indicator. Be ready to strike hard and crank hard any time there is a “tick” in the movement of the line.
  • Casting around the outside of the racks will usually result in a few fish. But casting between the rails will get serious action – but high losses. Be brave for the best fishing!
  • Consistent, accurate casting is an important skill for luring bream.
  • Oyster racks are someone’s business and livelihood. To ensure we can continue to enjoy fishing oyster racks into the future, avoid damaging racks and make every reasonable attempt to recover snagged lures.

Kris’ Oyster Rack Bream Fishing Tackle

  • Kris uses a range of rod and reel combos for bream fishing among the oyster racks. He usually prefers a shortish (6’4” to 6’9”), reasonably fast taper rod, which is suited to the kind of hand to hand combat he enjoys in these locations.
  • For soft plastic fishing, a 2-5 or 3-5 kg rod with a fairly fast action will allow the single hooks to be set and is great for muscling the fish from cover. Single hooks are less prone to straightening, so this gear can be used to put a lot of pressure on fish.
  • For crankbaiting, Kris still uses a 3-5 kg rod, but likes something a little softer in the tip, which is less likely to straighten the treble hooks. The rod still needs to have plenty of spine to control fish in the structure.
  • When fishing Cranka Crabs, Kris likes a 2-4 kg rod with a softer action as the hooks are small and are easily straightened when put under the kinds of pressure required to extract bream form the racks.
  • A Daiwa TD0 2-5kg 7’ rod is one of Kris’ current favourites for this style of fishing.
  • Reels are usually 2500 size. Occasionally a 3000 size reel is better as it can get the line back faster.
  • Lines are usually 10lb braid with a 10lb fluorocarbon leader. When the water is dirty or the country is tough he’ll sometimes go up to a 14lb leader as fish are less shy. On tough days he might drop down to 8lb leader. 6lb leader is rarely necessary and will result in lots of lost fish.

Oyster Rack Bream Fishing Lures

  • 2.5” Zman Grubz in bloodworm colour is Kris’ number one lure choice and can take bream under almost any circumstance, including oyster rack fishing. He fishes it on a 1/28 oz jig head with a heavy #1 hook and a hidden weight. These are cast very close to structure and allowed to sink, keeping an eye on the line as they are usually taken on the drop. In not taken on the drop, slowly work them back and repeat the process. A bit of procure scent helps.
  • Kris uses lots of crankbaits and most of them work from time to time, but a consistent crankbaiting option is the Jackall Chubby in brown Suzy Shrimp in both deep and shallow diving, depending on where you’re fishing. This lure allows him to cover a lot of ground. Smashing it into structure is good – using the deep diver in shallow water is effective because the bib acts as a hook guard. Otherwise, slow rolling them around, along and through the oyster racks is effective.


Kris Hickson

Kris Hickson

Tournament Angler And Personality

Kris is a popular fishing personality and successful tournament competitor. He’s been fishing the ABT tournament since 2001, but also fishes AFC and kayak tournaments regularly, with plenty of wins and podium places under his belt. He also recently fish the World Fishing Championships in South Africa. He has a big reputation for extracting sizeable bream from the heavy structure of oyster racks in NSW estuaries.

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