This month will certainly see the so-called bream season in full swing – the months of winter when the spawning of the species takes place. There’s no argument about this but let’s take a look at a whole year in the life of Acanthopagrus australis.
For most of the year, bream are dispersed through a wide variety of habitats. We find them in the brackish, almost freshwaters of our upper river systems. They are at ease around the shallow reefs of Hervey Bay and the boisterous headlands of Fraser Island. Open surf beaches, mangrove lined flats and just about every other inshore marine habitat is a happy bream’s territory.
For bream to be able to reproduce successfully it is necessary for them to move into waters where conditions are ideal. Certainly one of the most successful spawning areas in South Queensland, Jumpinpin includes an active surf bar as well as shallow flats, eelgrass beds and mangrove forests suitable for the development of the fertilised larvae.
While in their diverse habitats, fish feed quite ravenously and build up food reserves for the mid-winter spawning. However, not all mature bream, maybe about half, make the journey. These are seen as the representatives of the local population. They are fish whose hormones have kicked in, promoting not only the need to travel, but also the development of reproductive tissues.
For many bream, these journeys are long and may take months to complete. On the way, they need to keep feeding in order to provide for their own mechanical energy as well as continuing to build up eggs and sperm. During this pre-spawning season good catches of these transient fish are taken by anglers, often in the middle or lower reaches of rivers.
Although many of the bream arriving in the spawning area might be well endowed with eggs, sperm and stored fat, they still need food for energy production and completing the spawning process. Competition for food would be great and, as fishing records confirm, bream are ready to accept just about any offering.
In the spawning process, the female deposits the ripe eggs into the water and the males deposit sperm into the same area. The fertilised eggs develop into larvae, and eventually juvenile bream in the shallows, particularly amongst eel grass.
There is plenty of debate around the timing of spawn and the best time to fish for bream during this peak season. Many suggest that the spawning takes place right on, or just after, the full moon. How romantic is that? The same commentators suggest that the increasing tides from first quarter to full moon are the optimum period to fish for bream.
Having taken a look into the life of a bream and its behaviour throughout the year, you might now ask, “How does all this apply to our local Hervey Bay and Mary River systems?” Less defined than those further south, there are wide areas of shallows providing food for spawning fish as well as nurseries for larvae and young fish.
We don’t have boisterous surf bars topping up the dissolved oxygen content of the water. However, strong tidal currents running over shallow rock ledges such as those at the points of our bay islands, Point Vernon and at River Heads cause enough disturbance and contact with the air to enhance oxygen absorption.
With the wide variety of other species available in Hervey Bay waters, bream specialists form a minority group. Those who put the time in are rewarded with excellent catches including fish of outstanding quality. Depending on the chosen location, a variety of plastics, vibes, poppers and other artificials see plenty of use.
Location is also important if bait is used. The humble yabby is out on his own here provided there is a relative absence of nuisance species like butter bream and happy moments. Other much-used baits include hardiheads, half-pilchards, white pilchards, herring fillets and cutlets as well as mullet gut and prawns.
A: Point Vernon rocks is an excellent land-based option. It is best at night on a flooding tide around the full or new moon.
B: Urangan Pier has fished extremely well over the last two seasons. It’s best over a tide change, day or night, working around the pylons. The favoured baits are fresh herring fillets or cutlets and hardyheads. It’s easy to jig herrings here. The outer gutter is the best option while the inner gutter can fish well over the high tide.
C: The boat harbour walls are worth a crack. The northern wall can be accessed from the beach along a pathway in front of the units. The trawler access road is used to reach the southern wall. There are plenty of options here, particularly on the inside of the northern wall and the outside of the low end of the southern wall.
D: Try the River Heads northern rock ledges either side of green lateral beacon. It has strong currents and associated eddies and backwaters. It’s a great land-based alternative. The rock face is fished best at night on a falling tide. Fishing the eddies upstream from the beacon on the flood tide is worth checking out. Mulloway, threadfin salmon and javelin also likely catches.
E: The River Heads rocks extend for several hundred metres along South Head, east of the green beacon. There are lots of ledges, points, eddies and holes. This area fishes well on both tides depending on the location of strong currents and eddies. Flathead and barramundi are also likely. It’s worth noting that further upstream in the Mary River there are more great rocky areas to target bream. These include Beaver Rock, the Gridiron and Lower Rocky, all of which, except in times of flood run-off, fish particularly well in the early part of the season.
F: Check out Coongul Creek, Fraser Island. Depending on the state of the beach and creek mouth, the snags both inside and outside can turn on some great bream fishing.
G: Moon Creek, Fraser Island, can be fished only over the high tide. It has some interesting snags up the creek and near the mouth. Flathead are always likely here too.
H: The Moon Point flats, Fraser Island, have shallows complete with low coffee rocks, sea grass and yabby flats. This is a great area to work with poppers and plastics. There are almost always flathead here too.
J: Woody Island’s northern rock ledges fish well over the high tides. Bream like to lurk in the shallow gullies between ledges. Note that the outer ledges are close to a green zone.
K: Woody Island’s eastern and southern shores have numerous rocky features along the entire shore. The southern tip fished on the flood tide is the best option.
L: At Picnic Island (Little Picnic) bream are a likely catch right around the island. Testern side is reliable on both flood and ebb tides. This area receives a lot of attention from bream fishers at night.
M: At Duck Island (Big Picnic), fishing in the rips and eddies at both ends of the island is most productive. The northern end borders on a green zone.
N: Little Woody Island is good. The red lateral beacon is the northern boundary of a large green zone that includes the entire western coast. Fishing is permitted around the rocks at the extreme end of the island, and through the shallows along its eastern shore. This area is always dependable for a few good bream.Reads: 402