Chasing canal dwelling bream
  |  First Published: April 2014

Bream are one of the most common species in the saltwater estuaries throughout the Sunshine Coast. The estuarine canals that edge large waterfront homes provide a great place for these fish to dwell.

A great thing about this species is that they can be easily caught all year round and in most conditions. The challenge of tempting these sometimes finicky fish takes persistence, but once you’ve got it, it turns into great fun!

Chasing bream on lures is one of my favourite styles of fishing as there’s so much to it. It’s the huge amount of thought that has to be applied to bream fishing to produce good results! I think this is the reason why bream are one of the leading sporting fish when it comes to tournament fishing. However, I’m going to keep the whole thought process a bit more simple to make it easier to understand.


The canals within the Noosa and Mooloolah rivers provide great canal fishing. Most canals are relatively protected from the wind and stronger current. Bream predominantly hang in these areas for that reason.

Nearly every waterfront home has a large jetty with moored boats at the front; great places for large bream to call home. It’s awesome seeing bream cruising around the structure feeding on all the little pieces of food they can find.

Not only do canals provide this type of structure, they often also consist of shrubbery that overhangs into the water, rock walls, and small bridges. Wherever there is structure, there will most likely be bream on offer. This is what makes the challenge even better, as there will come a time when you hook fish close to this dense structure and in a split second the fish has busted you off on an oyster-encrusted jetty!


Chasing bream with the ‘ultimate finesse approach’ is the way to go. A very light graphite rod with a weight range from anywhere between 2-6lb, and a good quality 2000 size or below reel. You’ll notice when looking for a rod, generally, the more expensive, the more sensitive and the lighter it will be. This applies for when reel buying as well, the more expensive, the lighter, the smoother and the better its components are. But in the end it all depends on your budget.

Having light gear is very important when fishing for bream. This style of fishing requires your gear to have good sensitivity so you can feel the slightest of bumps from a fish. Using braids of around 4-6lb is ideal for most situations when chasing bream. I generally use 4lb braid as it casts smaller lures much further, and is very sensitive. This is the same with my leader as well.

You don’t need to fish heavy at all for bream. Yes, sometimes the bream will get the upper hand once you hook them in dense structure, but that’s fishing! If you fish around a double rod length of 4lb fluorocarbon leader, this will suit most bream fishing situations. With bream being a very cautious and finicky fish, using fluorocarbon leader is a must! The main reason for this is because it has a refractive index similar to water. This absorbs the sunlight making it more invisible to the fish’s eye.


As we all know, there are many lures out there and it can become difficult about what to choose. My lure boxes and bags are separated into 3 general lure types: soft plastics, diving hardbodies and surface lures.

I’m more of a soft plastics bream fisherman but when I’m feeling a bit more experimental I like to try out a few different lures. This is how many anglers find their new ‘gun lure’.

A good tip when going out for the day is to have a smaller lure box, put a few favourite soft plastics, divers and surface lures in it that you will most likely use throughout the session. If you have 2- 3 set ups available, rig your favourite soft plastic on one and a hardbody on the other. It just makes it easier when you’re on the water.

A few of my favourite lures to use for bream include Ecogear Grass Minnows Medium in Okiami (pink) colour, Jackall Chubbies, and Ecogear PX45s and Berkley Scum Dogs on surface. These are all smaller sized lures that can be fished quite finesse, to trigger bream bites!

There are many other lures out there that can work dynamite on bream; it’s all about finding the lures that you feel most confident to use. If fishing with small soft plastics, including Ecogear Grass Minnows, Squidgy Wrigglers or Berkley Gulp Shrimp, small jigheads are a must, especially when fishing in canals as any larger weighted jighead is just going to spook all the bream around it.

Remember in all fishing applications, you want to make the lure sink and swim as naturally as possible. Using small jigheads of 1/24-1/40oz will allow the plastic to sink very slowly, making it look a lot more natural. I prefer to use hidden weight jigheads, which, as the name states, hides the weight within the plastic so the bream don’t notice it.


Applying your lures to techniques to target these fish is extremely important.

First of all, a good positioning of the boat will help you get the best cast possible around the structure. This is where having an electric motor makes it so much easier. It allows you to cruise up to a jetty without spooking any fish due to sound, and you can usually sneak in behind structure so you can get those ‘sneaky’ casts in which generally produce the goods!

Bream fishing is very visual. In clearer water you will see bream cruising around the structure. This is when you can sight cast the fish. Without landing the lure on top of their heads (which will spook them), cast up against the structure, and let the lure sink down, or work the lure near them.

These are the two different styles of fishing for them: You can let the lure, which is usually a small plastic, sink down beside the jetty or whatever you’re fishing around and let it impart its own action on the drop. It’s at this time when you use your line as a bite indicator; watch very closely for any twitches in the line.

The other technique is to cast against the structure, wait a few seconds, and then start working the lure back out. As they are very inquisitive, they will come and check out your lure. It gets my heart pumping seeing a bunch of huge bream following behind my lure!

Another tip when fishing soft plastics such as the Ecogear Grass Minnows or small Z-Man Grubz, is to cast up close to the structure like previously explained, let it sink down for a few seconds and begin a constant ‘twitching’ retrieve. This will trigger a reaction bite. It’s great fun watching the bream cruise up behind the lure to have a few goes at it before engulfing it and going for a home run.

You will notice when the sun is high in the sky that the bream will not come out of the shade cast by the above structure. It’s very important to cast your lures in all the ‘shady spots’ of the jetties. This will most definitely increase your chances of landing some decent bream. When fishing surface in the early morning, cast up and along each jetty and work the surface lure slowly, giving it a few bloops and a pause. It’s usually on the pause that the bream will come out and hit your lure.

Bream fishing is a great challenge. It can sometimes take persistence, but once you’ve picked up the techniques, it’s awesome fun. If you’re in the Noosa area, drop into Hooked On Angling and Outdoors in Tewantin, as the friendly team will give you great advice on how to target this great species!

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