Derwent Bream - Andrew Large

Bream are predominately bottom feeders that eat shellfish, crustaceans, and small fish. In Tasmania the black bream is found in nearly all east and north coast estuary and coastal river systems and seaward draining lagoons.

Bream are found in the above areas 12 months of the year, although certain months can be better. In the Derwent River estuary winter time (June - September) catches are usually infrequent but fish size is often above average for the species. Expect a few blank outings between catches. During spring fresh runs of bream make their way up river to eventually spawn in the upper reaches and tributaries of major systems. Anglers look forward to these spring runs (October - December), as bream tend to feed heavily enroute to their spawning grounds. The 'spring run" tends to merge into a summer and autumn migration (December - April) and anglers can expect good catches throughout this period.  

An average Derwent River Bream will weigh between 350 and 650g bigger specimens will attain 650g - 1.2kg, while larger trophy fish will reach 1.5kg - 3kg - big bream by anyone's standards. In fact Tasmania has a bigger class of Bream on average than the mainland states.

Bream seem to bite on a moving tide. Some anglers prefer a rising tide while others prefer a dropping one. This may also vary from one fishing location to another; careful, accurate and well-maintained record of catches will help in this instance. Try and increase your chances by fishing the last part of a making tide, the lull and first part in the ebb.

Bream have a reputation of being early and late biters so try and fish first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon and evening for best results. Cloudy, overcast and drizzly days can also be worth a try as darker conditions can instigate a bite from these fussy feeders.

Use berley sparingly as unwanted species such as mullet, mackerel, cod, Australian salmon and dog sharks soon turn up when an excess is placed into the water. These scavengers will steal and constantly beat bream to a baited hook. Needless to say putting a quick end to quality bream fishing in the area. A handy hint to remember is to throw used mussel shells into the water and allow the scent off these to do their work.

Good baits for Derwent River bream include: mussel, crab, prawns, and pretty fish. Some baits may work better than others depending on your fishing location. Just quietly, bream love any small estuary that you can catch the shrimp from. There are vast areas of sea grass located in many sheltered bays and tidal flats of the Derwent. Another good tip is to try fresh tuna flesh when available (especially striped tuna). I now freeze tuna scraps after each game season in readiness for bream.  

Try and use good quality chemically sharpened, light to medium gauge suicide (break) style hooks. Bait holder types are also good; Gamakatsu, Dynatec, Black Magic and Mustad are all good choices. Hook sizes should range between 6 and 2 although size 4 and 2 would be the most popular.  

If possible try not to use a sinker at all. However, most of the time this is not possible and medium sized ball, bean or barrel sinker should suffice.

Use a running rig.

Find a likely looking spot, i.e., deep rocky shore with a few gutters and ledges with adequate bream feed and place the bait. After making the cast leave the bail open and set the rod down. Longer rods are an advantage here as they allow the angler to have plenty of reach and keep the line high and clear of obstacles. Allow the Bream to pick up the bait and "run" a moderate distance before striking. If you strike right away the bream will not have had time to swallow your offering.

A good quality 3 - 4kg breaking strain monofilament line should be more than adequate. Braid and gel-spun lines are an advantage around oyster and mussel covered shelves and channels. Keep lines as light but as practical as possible to maintain that natural appeal to any bait used.  

In recent times many anglers are turning to using bibbed minnows and weighted bottom searching flies. Lure and fly caught Bream seem to be consistently larger specimens.  
Bright McGrath Attack, RMG, Halco and Stumpjumper types all work well while fly fishers are using the ever-popular Crazy Charlie fly patterns for best results.

Andrew Large


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