Report: Backyard bream

THE humble bream is a species that possibly kicked off many Aussie anglers’ fishing careers. There are a number of reasons why: the bream is easily accessible – depending on the season, they can be caught in rivers, creeks, off beaches, in bays and off ocean rocks – they’re relatively easy to catch, making them an ideal target for kids, and you don’t need expensive gear to catch them … although judging by some of the top end gear, boats and equipment used in bream tournaments you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise!

Like many popular sportfish, bream can be caught using a variety of methods. These days, lure fishing is one of the most popular and challenging ways to go about it, but not necessarily the most productive. Bream are still suckers for a well presented natural bait, and fresh nippers, live prawns and crabs are about the best baits going.

I’ve always had a soft spot for bream. They were one of the first fish I caught when I started fishing on the NSW South Coast with my grandfather many years ago. Some of my most memorable bream caught over the years since include some big silvery yellowfin bream from the rocks on ganged pilchards, dark-coloured bream from brackish bass creeks – my first bream on a lure fell to a rubber Flopy – and any aggro “noisy” bream I’ve caught on a surface lure. Top fun!

In recent years, most of my bream fishing exploits have been from a kayak, casting small hard body lures and soft plastics. It’s a fun way to fish that often gets me in to out of the way places where bream feed at high tide in the shadow of thick mangroves. It’s the closest thing there is to jungle fishing in the big city.

Yesterday afternoon I had a couple of hours to spare so I decided to do some fishing. I didn’t have the time for a full on ‘yak mission so I decided to stay close to home. About as close as you can get in fact. I fished in my back yard … Where I’m fortunate enough to live in southern Sydney, our house sits on the banks of the Woronora River – or the “Wonnie” as it’s commonly known.
A tributary of the Georges River, the Wonnie on the whole is shallower and narrower than its source. For much of its length, houses line its river banks, many with wharves jutting out into the river with boats big and small tied alongside. Best of all, the river is literally a 10m walk from our back door. So you’d imagine I fish it often? As crazy as it might sound, no. I’m not sure why … maybe it’s the “grass is greener” thing that usually makes me travel further afield for a fishing fix.

I have fished the Wonnie plenty of times over the years, but probably not as often as I should for a waterway that’s virtually at my doorstep. I usually cast a line out when I get a visit from my nephews or I have a new lure I want to check out. I have though caught some nice bream, flathead and a few estuary perch near to home and a few bass up in the Wonnie’s higher reaches.

Yesterday afternoon was a real “no plan” back to basics session. I set up a couple of light spin rods with a small long shank hook and single split shot lead. I grabbed some bread and cheese from the kitchen, and a cold beer. It wasn’t going to be the usual active fishing session.

After casting out a bread bait (our neighbours regularly feed the local ducks with bread and the Wonnie bream have a liking for the scraps) and leaving the reel in free spool, I rested the rod against the sandstone wall. I started lobbing a steady stream of bread and cheese berley into the river. The tide had turned and was well on its way out. I probably only had a couple of hours before the water level would be too low for much action.

Keeping an eye on the line I took a slug of beer and watched as one of the locals drive past in a tinny. Then I sat back and just soaked up the warm winter sun.

A few minutes later I saw the loose line shoot up through the runners and the rod’s tip bounced. I picked the rod up slowly. The line shot forward again, I closed the bail arm and lifted the rod to feel the bucking weight of a decent fish. Line squealed from the little spin reel as the strong fish surged right. It pulled a few metres from the buzzing reel and headed for my neighbour Rob’s jetty. “He’s gonna do me!” I said to my wife Robbi who had wandered out for a look.

I managed to turn the fish and it broke the surface and splashed around alongside Rob’s moored tinny. It was a nice silvery bream. I led the fish to the rock wall and managed to hoist it up for a photo and quick release. At well over 30cm It was the sort of bream I would’ve been very happy to catch on a lure. I dropped it back in and rebaited, cast out and had another swig of beer. It was tough going…

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Long story short, I caught half a dozen bream before the tide bottomed out and the bite shut down. It had been a fun couple of hours.

I now know what I’ll be doing when I find myself at a loose end on a Sunday arvo…

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