A bounty of winter bream
  |  First Published: June 2011

In many ways this winter is shaping up as a traditional one. It comes off the back of a typical wet autumn break and we all know the life giving force behind rain.

The Gippsland Lakes look a treat, with healthy river flows and it seems every square inch of water has some sort of life in it. The booming population of baitfish and shrimp that crowd the edges of all the rivers and the margins around our vast lakes is quite stunning. Shellfish and sandworm have also bounced back since the floods knocked them down four years ago. It’s no surprise then that the predatory fish like bream and flathead are also doing just fine and anglers are reaping those benefits right now.

Tailor, trevally, small pinkie snapper and salmon are also being caught in fair numbers but more so in the lower lakes region.

Bountiful bream

At the risk of sounding ever so repetitive I have to yet again talk up the stunning size and population of bream that call my backyard home. We have been expecting a bonanza of bream after the life giving 2007 floods because that triggered a major spawning event.

It’s hard to put a size on those fish today, but with the amount of bream turning up in the mid 20cm range I presume they represent that year class. With the amount of rain over the last six months I’m betting that this breeding season will be another ripper.

We are also blessed to have a lot of much older bream that have probably been around for 20 or 30 years and are now being caught at 38-43cm. It’s these stunning, fat and hard fighting black bream that have been providing us with some great sport and it’s the feature of this month’s report.


The main stronghold of bream recently has been of no surprise with the Tambo River almost a magnet to any bream angler worth his salt. Try the lower 2km of the river from the boat ramp down to the mouth and target the riverbanks about 3-4m out from the edge.

The bream don’t seem to be hugging the shallow edges or the deep middle of the river but somewhere in between. The same goes for the Nicholson River and if by chance the lower sections of these bream havens are quiet then head upstream to the highway bridges and beyond.

The Mitchell is also fishing well and so is Hollands Landing but the amount of carp in amongst the bream is rather off-putting. I also found some fish out in Lake Victoria not far from Wattle Point and these bream ranged from 26-42cm and I caught most of them in a metre of water or less.

I also searched far out into the lake in deeper areas and returned fish of similar sizes. One of the best options in finding a good run of bream is to target the jetties around Paynesville and Raymond Island.

Bream on bait

Live shrimp has been the stand out bait for bream and have resulted in some serious tallies. Two or three of them put onto a hook with a light running sinker does the trick and appeals to all sizes of fish. Plenty of those 25cm bream I mentioned earlier have been caught and returned to the water but a lot of bigger models around 40cm have kept bait anglers on their toes.

Dean Shingles and Warren Bertram from Maffra had two days out in their boat and caught about 80 bream for the two sessions with most of those fish 32-41cm. Live shrimp and yabbies were the standout baits and the boys said frozen prawn put in front of those same fish was being totally ignored.

A week later Dean took his mate Brad Stokell out for another session and they landed around 70 bream to 43cm all on live shrimp. Stevie Daymond used live crab and caught his bag of big bream proving that anything small and alive will appeal to big blue nosed bream.

Bream lures

As for the lure brigade, well the news is all good. I’ve received feedback from a lot of happy anglers all telling me they are having some of the best fishing in years. Small bibbed hardbodied lures again dominate the bream talk but I’m seeing a swing back to plastic hardbodied vibes like Kangoku and River2Sea lures that were popular about four years ago.

Like all lure fishing, what was old will one day be new again as old favourite lures come back into fashion. Speaking of new, the latest Daiwa lures have created a lot of interest and expect the Gekkabijin Vib 3S to feature in bream tournaments and magazine pictures soon.

Some inventive anglers are even making their own lures like Robert Harvey and Matty Leach who have made a rubber based ‘Black Bean’ that represents a little mussel shell. They are catching a lot of fish with this mini sinking bream lure and some very big models to 1.8kg as well. It’s a deadly concoction that has also caught me plenty of bream but a lure they probably won’t share with many others!

I’ve played around with my own home made metal blades I make out of sheet copper and they work a treat. Although easy to make and cheap as chips, I am quite surprised to catch so many bream on them and it’s very rewarding to land fish on your own creation. My message here is that almost any lure is a good one, but only if the angler has supreme confidence in using it.

Bream Comps

Recently I was pleased to see Romeo Prezioso and Carl Di Toro of team ‘Bream By Stealth’ win the latest Vic Bream Gippsland Lakes round with some stunning fish up to 1.86kg.

This was a well-deserved and comprehensive victory as they really blitzed a hot field of 118 mad keen bream anglers.

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