Bream in the North
  |  First Published: March 2006

When the barramundi and mangrove jacks are a little sluggish or off-limits up here in north Queensland, one alternative is the humble and often forgotten bream. These fish can be a great challenge on light line and keep many anglers out on the water over the cooler winter months.

Baits and Rigs

Two of the most commonly used rigs when chasing bream incorporate a running sinker. On one of these rigs, the sinker is placed directly onto the hook (Rig 1), and this is best for rough or rocky bottoms. The second rig is good for most other situations and runs the sinker to a swivel with a leader to the hook (Rig 2).

One of the most important tips is that your hooks must be razor sharp, because yellow fin bream in particular have very tough mouths and can sometimes be hard to hook. The Owner range of hooks is one of the best on the market because they are extremely sharp and seem to hold the point for much longer than other brands.

Many different kinds of bait work on bream, depending on which area you are fishing and what is available to you.

Prawns are readily available in most tackle stores but make sure they are of a reasonable size and quality.

Mullet strips work well, but good quality mullet is sometimes hard to find. If you do locate a good source, stick with it, as bream respond well to a nice firm mullet strip, particularly if they are a little finicky.

Fresh is best with both prawn and mullet, so if you can catch your own on the day, all the better.

Chicken gut is often used in the more southern parts of Australia, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work up here also. The only problem is that it can be hard to come by in northern tackle stores.

Lastly, chicken breast or thigh is one of the best baits you can use for bream. I have had many days where I have outfished others five to one using this bait. The thigh is usually cheaper and a little tougher, which allows it to stay on your hook longer. Sometimes the flesh can get a little soft, so to firm it up, simply leave the cut-up strips in the sun while you are fishing. The outside layer of the flesh will dry out slightly but the bait will remain succulent inside, making it irresistible to most bream.


For best results, it’s essential to use berley and get it to the bottom of the area you are fishing. A good method is to attach a berley pot full of pellets and fish scraps to your anchor rope: the movement of the boat in the tide will stir the pot and release the berley in small but constant proportions. Remember that regularly feeding out small amounts of berley is much better than putting out a whole lot in one go.

Be careful, because if the tidal flow is strong, the berley may often only get to the bottom a few hundred metres downstream, which can cause the fish to move away from you.

Lastly, always berley the bottom not the surface, because bream are bottom feeders and the crumbs need to lead them all the way to the pot (where your baited hooks are).

Soft Plastics

The latest craze down in the southern parts of the state is the use of small soft plastic lures to chase bream, and it’s slowly becoming more popular up north. There are numerous DVDs on this topic and if I went into every different technique we would be here all day.

There is also a new book out called On Soft Plastics And How To Use Them by Steve Starling and Kaj Busch. You should be able to find it in most good tackle stores and it covers everything you need to know and do with soft plastics.

Number 2 Squidgies in bloodworm, avocado and frost all work well in and around the Townsville Region. When fishing these plastics, try a slow lift and drop method, leaving the plastic on the bottom for a few seconds between each lift.

One of the staff members at my tackle shop is a bream fanatic and he prefers the neap tides for chasing bream because they seem to be more concentrated on certain snags and banks. It’s just a matter of finding them.

Another method that can be quite productive is casting your soft plastic upstream and slowly lifting and dropping while the current takes your plastic downstream. This is a good method for working banks and drop-offs where the plastic can work the entire bank. I have found the Storm Twitchin’ Nipper soft plastic (a dead ringer for a live yabby) to be very effective used in this manner.

I hope some of these tips help you catch a few more bream, and don’t forget that kids have a ball on bream and will love joining you out on the water.

Illustration Title – Bream Rigs

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