Over the past decade, the number of anglers targeting bream, particularly with lures and soft plastics, has grown exponentially. There are a number of reasons for this, but it can largely be attributed to the success and popularity of the Australian BREAM Tournament Series, which led to the televised Australian Fishing Championships.
Unlike the TV shows, this article is aimed at those anglers who are confined to dry land. While many of us dream of owning a fully optioned, state of the art tournament style rig – just like you see on telly – you definitely don’t need one to land a few bream. A boat provides advantages, of course, but there are plenty of fish to be taken in and around the outskirts of Melbourne while keeping your feet planted firmly on dry land.
In consultation with my brother Brad, I’ve put together this land-based location guide for anglers targeting bream with lures, soft plastics and bait, at a range of land-based locations near Melbourne.
Corio Bay Inner Harbour is home to a significant population of bream that are often overlooked by anglers in pursuit of other species. Griffins Gully Jetty, Cunningham and Yarra Street piers and several other platforms dotted around the bay are all favoured locations for land-based anglers. Bream school up close to the pier pylons and under the hulls of moored boats in the harbour and can be targeted with both lures and bait.
Hovells Creek is at the northern extreme of Corio Bay. Here bream venture upstream to spawn throughout spring, and often school in the main channel or under the boats in the Grammar School Lagoon. There are opportunities for land-based anglers along the cycling and walking track, which starts at Rennie Street and passes under the Princes Highway until it reaches the creek mouth at Limeburners Bay.
Heading further west, the shallow waters of Swan Bay at Queenscliff, particularly the area known as Lakers Cutting, also produce some thumping big bream for bait anglers fishing with live sandworms, Bass yabbies and crab. There is a fishing platform located on Murray Road, and bank access via Fellows and McDonald roads.
In the Werribee River, the jetty at the boat ramp regularly produces bream, as do the moored boats located just inside the mouth of the estuary. These can be reached with a long cast from the floating jetties. Throughout this spring, the fishing around the Werribee River mouth has been exceptional. It was here Brad recently recorded his personal best bream that measured a cracking 49.5cm, and weighed a whopping 1.94kg.
Further upstream the river from the island through to the K-road Cliffs is also popular. The cliffs are a perfect vantage point from which to locate bream actively feeding amongst the submerged timber and rocks below. Located at the base of the golf course car park, the Barnacle Hole is one of the deepest sections of the river. Unfortunately this is now as far as anglers can venture upstream, since the golf course has denied access to the river from this point onwards.
Ferguson Street and Gem Pier are the two major fishing platforms in Hobsons Bay at Williamstown that produce reasonable numbers of bream. Once again anglers should target fish holding under the moored boats or up against the pier pylons.
At the mouth of the Yarra River, the area surrounding the Newport Power Station, known as the ‘Warmies’ or ‘Hotties’, provides an abundance of land-based opportunities along the rock walls that line the warm water outlet and the main river itself.
Both sides of the river near the West Gate Bridge, the Scienceworks Jetty and the entrance to Stony Creek are also productive for bream. Anglers should focus their efforts around the channel markers, pylons and rocky banks, all of which provide suitable fish holding structure, particularly in areas adjacent to deep water.
Access to Victoria Harbour is via Docklands Road, Harbour Esplanade or North Wharf Road. The water is generally clearer here than in the main river, and often bream can be seen cruising down deep between the jetty pylons, or sitting high in the water against the berthing docks. The combination of clear water and lack of flow can make the fish difficult to tempt, and they require a little finesse in terms of bait and lure presentation.
Back in the main river, there are kilometres of fishable water all the way through the city. A bike is a practical means of transport for the active angler and there is an extensive network of riverside tracks and paths that continue well past the estuary limits at Dights Falls in Abbotsford.
In the river itself, bream feed much more aggressively at times of maximum flow. They hold behind structure waiting for the current to wash food items past, biting all manner of things and releasing them if inedible. It pays to concentrate your efforts around bridge pylons, berthing docks, rocky banks, drains and litter traps.
The reed banks, overhanging trees and mudflats around Herring Island at Richmond also produce quality bream during the warmer months.
Like the Yarra, access to the Maribyrnong River is excellent with more than 20km of paths and cycling tracks that follow the river from Lyons Street in Seddon, all the way through the suburbs and past the Rock Ford in Avondale Heights, which is the extent of tidal influence. There are dozens of fishing platforms dotted along the estuary and safe access to the base of most bridges, with the pylons generally within casting distance. The areas around Flemington Racecourse, Victoria University, Edgewater Estate and the Anglers Tavern consistently produce bream for both lure and bait anglers.
Upstream, the river from Old Canning Street through to the Rock Ford is lined with reed banks, overhanging trees and submerged timber, which provides a nice change of scenery from the manmade rock walls, jetties and bridges that exist throughout the lower reaches.
The Patterson River is becoming increasingly popular with anglers targeting bream on lures throughout the extensive residential canal system. There is also plenty of scope for land-based based fishos along the southern shoreline. Again a bike track services both sides of the river and there is car parking available at Launching Way.
The rock wall at the mouth of the system, just upstream from the Nepean Highway Bridge, is a good spot to search for bream, particularly when the water is dirty. Further upstream, Coast 6 Pontoon produces bream and the occasional mulloway on soft plastics presented close to the bottom. Bream can also be found chasing baitfish and shrimp in the shallow areas close to the floodgate entrances. These fish are best targeted with hard-bodied lures worked parallel to the shallow groynes that extend from the entrance gates.
Before spawning and after heavy rain, bream congregate around the Mornington Peninsula Freeway Bridge. This is a great spot to target bream with worm style soft plastics, worked slow and deep in the current. (Thanks to Wayne Friebe for information on Patterson River).
During June, July and August, bream school up in the deeper sections of the rivers in preparation for their spawning run. Bait anglers do well during this period, but it can be more difficult for those casting lures and soft plastics.
In spring as the water warms, bream gradually move onto the edges and can be found holding under moored boats, pontoons, jetties, reed banks and hard up against the manmade rock walls that line our metropolitan rivers. From late September through to early May, lures and soft plastics are more productive, but it pays to move around until you begin catching fish or at least start spotting them holding on the various forms of structure.
A quality pair of polarising sunglasses is an asset when searching for bream on the edges. Casting accuracy is crucial too, not only for lure presentation, but also because losing hard-bodied lures due to poor casting can become expensive.
As mentioned earlier, bream feed more aggressively during periods of peak flow, and generally the run-in tide is more productive.
Every year, many Melbourne anglers travel hundreds of kilometres to renowned bream fishing destinations such as the Gippsland Lakes, Mallacoota Inlet and the Glenelg River, not to mention some magnificent interstate venues.
When it comes to improving your angling ability, there’s simply no substitute for time spent on or beside the water. By observing seasonal variations, testing new techniques and honing your skills on the fish in your own backyard, you’ll be one step ahead when you arrive at your next holiday destination.
LAND-BASED BREAM SPOTS – MELWAYS REFERENCES
Geelong Inner Harbour & Surrounds
Griffins Gully Jetty – Map 442 B12
Cunningham Pier – Map 452 C2
Yarra Street Pier – Map 452 C3
Hovells Creek (Princess Freeway Bridge) – Map 423 D10
Limeburners Bay – Map 432 K7
Lakers Cutting – Map 486 A11
Werribee South Jetty and Boat Ramp – Map 209 E11
K Road Cliffs – Map 201 B7
Barnacle Hole – Map 201 B6
Yarra River: Williamstown to Newport
Gem Pier – Map 56 E9
Ferguson St Pier – Map 56 D8
‘Warmies’ or ‘Hotties’ Warm Water Outlet – Map 56 C5
Scienceworks Jetty – Map 56 C1
Stony Creek Entrance – Map 42 C12
Yarra River: Docklands to Dights Falls
Victoria Harbour – Map 43 C9
Hering Island – Map 44 G1
Dights Falls – Map 44 F3
Lyons St – Map 42 D7
Flemington Racecourse – Map 42 F3
Victoria University – Map 42 D2
Edgewater Estate – Map 28 D12
Angler’s Tavern – Map 28 D8
Old Canning Street – Map 27 G8
Rock Ford – Map 28 B8
Nepean Highway Bridge – Map 97 C7
Launching Way – Map 97 E6
Floodway Entrances – Map 97 F6, G6 & H5
Mornington Peninsula Bridge – Map 97 J3
Rods and Reels
A lightweight, graphite spinning rod or ‘flick stick’ ranging from 6’6” to 7’6” in length, matched to a 1000-2500 size threadline reel with a smooth drag system is the way to go when chasing bream on artificials. Rods should be fitted with quality guides and a short cork handle to improve casting accuracy and assist with retrieve techniques. The tip needs to be sensitive, with sufficient strength through the middle section and the butt to subdue larger than expected fish. When fishing with bait, quiver-tip rods ranging from 8–10ft are good.
Lines and Leaders
High visibility Berkley Fireline of 4–6lb is recommended when lure casting for bream as it helps detect strikes while your lure is sinking. A 4–8lb fluorocarbon leader of up to 6ft in length should be attached to your main line before connecting a lure. For bait fishing, the same lines and leaders can be used, but I prefer to run standard 4lb monofilament through my quiver-tip rods.
Lures, Soft Plastics and Jigheads
The following is a list of proven soft plastics and lures for the locations covered in this article. It’s worth carrying jigheads in a range of weights, matched to a variety of hooks. When choosing the weight of your jighead, take into account the strength of the tide, depth of water, speed and direction of the wind, and the size of the plastic you intend to use. Try to use the smallest weight that will allow the lure to reach the bottom. Lighter jigheads ranging from 1/12-1/32oz are recommended for most situations in our local rivers.
Strike Pro Bream Baits
Halco Scorpion 35mm
River2Sea Baby Vibe 35mm
River2Sea Baby Vibe 43mm
Berkley Gulp 6” Sandworm
Berkley Gulp 3” Craw
Berkley Gulp 3” Fry
Berkley Gulp 2” Jigging Grub
Berkley 2” Bulky Hawg
Ecogear 2” Bugant
Ecogear Grass Minnow – small
Ecogear Grass Minnow – medium
Atomic 2” Fat Grub
LOCAL BAIT AND TACKLE STORES
Geelong Inner Harbour and Surrounds
Catch 22 Fishing Tackle, 203 Melbourne Road, Geelong North, VIC, 3220, phone 03 5278 2899
Ray Longs Tackle World, 105 Shannon Avenue, Geelong West, VIC, 3218, phone 03 5222 3257
Reel Screamer Bait and Tackle, 4B Derwent Road, Werribee, VIC, 3030, phone 03 9749 0555
Yarra River: Williamstown to Newport
Newport Bait and Tackle, 365 Douglas Parade, Newport, VIC, 3015, phone 03 9399 3066
JV Marine World, 15 Fitzgerald Road, Laverton, VIC, 3026, phone 03 9368 7100
Yarra River: Docklands to Dights Falls
The Compleat Angler, 387 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC, 3000, phone 03 9620 3320
Got One, 318A Keilor Road, Niddrie, VIC, 3042, phone 03 9379 7811
Billfisher Tackle, 495 Nepean Hwy, Frankston, VIC, 3199, phone 03 9783 9774