Bream Fishing Part 1
Bream are caught in nearly every Australian estuary, and along enormous stretches of our ocean coastline and through many inshore locations. They‘re an important and interesting group of fish which are of intrigue to most all anglers.
Whenever you might find bream they are extremely popular with anglers. This is hardly shocking when one stops to consider their fine fighting ability, eating qualities and the levels of skill sometimes needed to latch them. Bream offer just the balance of challenge and reward which angler’s love, and which is capable of converting the infrequent dangler into a specialist angler.
There are several species of bream existing in Australian waters, all of which belong to an international family with well-known representatives in such separated regions as Asia (the Japanese sea bream) and the Americas (Porgy, Scup and several others). The most significant Australian bream are the Yellowfin or Black Bream of eastern waters. The southern black bream, and the pikey bream that inhabit the tropical waters of Australia, are all moderately small fish, averaging less than a kilo, with specimens over 2kg being quite extraordinary.
While the southern bream is almost completely a fish of estuary and tidal lakes systems, the eastern black bream and pikey bream both range through a variety of environmental niches from pure freshwater to estuaries, inshore mangroves, bays and harbors. In fact, the eastern black bream is also common along ocean foreshores, beaches and even over deeper offshore reefs.
Best Time to Fish for Bream
As with many fish, bream often bite best at dusk and dawn and for the first few hours of darkness, though there are plenty of exceptions, particularly in dirty or deep water and on overcast days. Tides are also significant with bream in many areas feeding best as a rising tide gives them access to shallow feasting grounds which are generally off limits at low tide.
Bream are opportunistic feeders with a varied diet. They have moderately small mouths, lined with solid pin like teeth suited to crushing the shellfish and crustaceans which they love. They also have the speed to ambush prawns, shrimp, octopus, squid and even small fish such as pilchards, whitebait, sprat and anchovy.
The eastern black bream has a love for oysters and mussels, which it is quite proficient at ripping open with its strong little jaws.
Southern bream are more reliant on shrimp, marine worms, yabbies (nippers) crabs, while the tropical pikey bream eats all of these as well as a fair amount of bait fish and prawns. Also, bream will infrequently graze on weed or algae, predominantly in their juvenile stages. Notwithstanding the importance on naturally occurring food sources, bream are also swift to take advantage of any handouts provided by man. Bream love fish leftovers and offal, bread, meat chunks and even such odd fare as chicken. We’ve have had tremendous success with marinated chicken breast in oyster sauce and garlic. Bream just can’t resist this concoction.
The variety in the diet of bream is reflected in the range of baits which they will take, In fact, it is hard to think of an bait which has not taken bream! A short list of the more common worms, yabbies, mussels, fish , bread, cheese, mullet gut, tripe dough and various cereal or flour based concoctions called pudding mixes.
Bream will also strike at lures, particularly small plugs and files, vibes and soft plastics. They will even attack huge lures intended for barramundi or mangrove jack. Unfortunately, the bream’s toothy petite mouth and nipping style of attack does not always yield a good hook up on lures.
Like snapper, which they are related, bream grow gradually and live for a long time. During its first year of life, an eastern black bream only reaches a measurement of about 7.5cm. The fish may not reach legal length (dependent up your State’s laws) until five or six years old. It could be well into its teens before becoming a kilo plus trophy fish. Fortunately, bream lay massive numbers of eggs each year after attaining adulthood at a length of 20-25cm. Despite the fact, few of their progenies survive the first weeks of life, adequate amount seem to reach adulthood to continue the existence of the species.
Bream are taken on all sorts of equipment, from humble hand-lines, to expensive bait caster reels and graphite rods. Line should be between about 2-8 Kg breaking strain, the sinkers as light as possible and the hooks needle sharp and matched to the bait size. Usually hook size is between No 4 and 2/0. A very popular setup for bream is a light 1.7 to 2.2 meter rod, small to medium thread-line spinning line of about 6-8kg breaking strain. If fishing off rocks it is advisable to use a heavier line, but if targeting bream never go more than 15lb. A tackle box stocked with a couple of hook sizes between No 4 and 2/0, some No 12 or 14 swivels and a range of sinkers from the smallest sizes to up to about 25 grams in weight, maybe all the terminal tackle an angler needs. As for rig set up, you cannot go past the running sinker. The running sinker ensures that, when the fish picks up your bait, he does not feel the resistance of your sinker and rod set up. This allows the fish time to swallow down the bait. My method is to fish with a slack line, so that when the fish grabs the bait and runs, it does not feel any tension, it also allows me time to strike the fish. Rather than watching the tip of the rod for a bit, this method, watch the slack line run and tighten, and then it’s time to do your magic.
Winter time is great down south to get out and chase bream. The bream in Victoria migrate out of the bays and oceans, with the intention of heading up stream in the rivers to spawn.
Be sure to sign up to our Newsletter so you don't miss part two of Bream Fishing. In part two we will cover in depth:
- Fishing Techniques for Bream,
- Bream in the Estuary
- Shore Based Breaming
- Bream on Lures
- Bream Burley
- Time and Tides
- Estuary Breaming Tips for Boaties
- Bream from Beaches and Breakwalls
- Bream off the Rocks
- Bream on the Offshore Reefs
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