Australian Bream are an extraordinary fish to target. They
can be caught along beaches, ocean rocks, in estuaries and
in rivers around the entire continent, including Tasmania.
A variety of Bream species populate coastal waters, and where
one species end another begins, usually with a crossover of
Bream can be caught fishing the bottom on sand, drifting a bait
mid-water or on the surface, amongst structure such as oyster
leases, piers, anchored boats, submerged logs or trees and weed
beds. They have an almost inexhaustible range of habitats, which
makes them an ideal bread and butter species to target for children
and adults alike.
Bream have a quite a varied appetite and will take baits such as
prawns (shrimp), fish, cunjevoi, even bread dough and on occasion
weed. They will voraciously attack lure and/or fly, which makes
them a great species to target.
An average size Bream would range from about 1-2lb and trophy sized
Bream would be considered 4lb and over. The minimum legal length
in NSW by length is 25cm or 10 inches. My personal best is 18
inches or approx 45cm captured on a hard bodied lure.
Bream have a well-recognised reputation as no-nonsense scrappy
fighters, and as such have earned the respect of seasoned and
notable anglers Australia wide. In fact an annual national
competition has been developed specifically targeting Bream
on a catch and release basis. Bream are a popular and tasty
fish to eat, but I do prefer to release them, much to the
disappointment of my wife.
My home water is the Tuggerah Lakes on the Central coast of
NSW and the dominant Bream species here is the Yellowfin Bream.
It is easily recognisable by the distinctive yellow colouration
on the pectoral fins.
Tuggerah Lakes are about an hour and a half north of Sydney.
Tuggerah Lakes is comprised of three lakes - the first being
Tuggerah which provides the only entrance to the ocean.
Unsurprisingly the township at the mouth of the lake just so
happens to be called "The Entrance" - we Australians are a
The second lake is Budgewoi. It is connected to Tuggerah by
a wide channel. Budgewoi, too, has good fishing and is better
suited for boating anglers.
The top lake and the least fished, is my special favourite for
chasing Bream in my kayak, Lake Munmorah. This lake is connected
by a very narrow channel to Budgewoi Lake and has very little
Now for my story:
I wanted to stay in bed a little longer. It was a freezing winter
morning, but to have every chance of catching some nice fish I knew
an early start was essential. On went the peak cap, then the Beanie
on top of that, a really bad look, but at least it keeps the winter
chill out, well a little bit anyway.
Dawn was still about fourty-five minutes away so I took my time to unload
my kayak from the car and get my gear organised for the 1 mile
trip across Lake Munmorah. It was still dark enough to see the
intermittent light from the Nora Head lighthouse. The stars
were still visible in the sky.
A leisurely paddle across the lake to a small stand of dead trees
was my destination. Only about 400 yards long, and sitting in
about 12 to 15 inches of water is this timber forest, or as my wife
likes to call it "The Deadwood Forest" as she thinks it looks like
something out of Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings. It is a natural
haven for Bream. It stands out starkly against the rest of the lake
foreshore, and receives little pressure from other anglers due to its
shallow waters and the frequent blooms of weed that hamper the boating
anglers. It is very rare that I fail to catch a fish in this area as
there are resident fish there year round.
With the sun cresting the horizon and lighting up the stand of trees
in a golden glow, and with no wind to blow my kayak around, conditions
were ideal. A #5 weight floating line with a 12 ft leader was a
suitable combination in the calm conditions so as not to spook the
My fly of choice in this area is a Salty BMS, as it is a slow
sinking fly and allows for the very slow and alluring retrieval
method I like to use to entice a strike. As usual, that first
cast was quite ordinary and fell well short of the tree I was
aiming at. My second cast was much better, and by the fourth
cast I was starting to find my range as the fly landed close to
the trunk. I allowed a few seconds for the fly to sink a little,
then I commenced a slow figure eight retrieve. I felt the line
tighten slightly in my hand, and thinking my fly had touched weed,
I lifted the rod tip to raise the fly to hopefully pull it above
the weed. I felt even more resistance so I thought that my fly
was jagged on a submerged branch.
Much to my surprise, the tip of my Loomis IMX #5 weight was savagely
pulled back down and line stripped from my hand before I realised
what was happening! I quickly clamped my finger on the line as a
fish lunged back into the cover of the timber. I was concerned that
the fish might bust me off as it was pulling incredibly hard and I
had to muscle it away from all the timber that it was trying to
reach. After a furious battle I landed a nice 12 inch Yellowfin
Bream which I photographed and then released. I always like to
take a few moments after the release to think about how the fish
took the fly as often the fish will behave in a similar manner.
Ten minutes later as I worked my way along the line of trees I
was into my second fish. As subtle as the take had been with
the first fish, I was left in no doubt with the second hit. It
felt like a "Ram Raid" it was so hard! Again, line was stripped
from my hand before I was able to clamp down and stop the first
run. This fish was in no mood to toy with me and started dragging
the kayak in towards the cover of the trees so I had to back paddle
with one hand whilst trying to keep the fish clear of the woods.
Once clear of the timber, I allowed the fish a bit of line in open
water and after about 3 more strong runs was able to bring a nice
14 inch Bream to hand. The fish was quickly photographed and
released to sulk in peace. For the next two hours I fished the
entire 400 yards of golden hued timber for four more nicely sized
Bream all meeting or exceeding 12inches. As the sun crept higher
into the skyline the Bream predictably shutdown and so with a self
satisfied smile I turned my kayak for home with a few nice photos
as a memento of my morning. ~ Jeff Randal