World Wide Fishing!

Bream on the Fly - Australia

By Jeff Randal, (Bassboy) Australia

Australian Bream are an extraordinary fish to target. They can be caught along beaches, ocean rocks, in estuaries and in rivers around the entire continent, including Tasmania. A variety of Bream species populate coastal waters, and where one species end another begins, usually with a crossover of territory.

Bream can be caught fishing the bottom on sand, drifting a bait mid-water or on the surface, amongst structure such as oyster leases, piers, anchored boats, submerged logs or trees and weed beds. They have an almost inexhaustible range of habitats, which makes them an ideal bread and butter species to target for children and adults alike.

Bream have a quite a varied appetite and will take baits such as prawns (shrimp), fish, cunjevoi, even bread dough and on occasion weed. They will voraciously attack lure and/or fly, which makes them a great species to target.

An average size Bream would range from about 1-2lb and trophy sized Bream would be considered 4lb and over. The minimum legal length in NSW by length is 25cm or 10 inches. My personal best is 18 inches or approx 45cm captured on a hard bodied lure.

Bream have a well-recognised reputation as no-nonsense scrappy fighters, and as such have earned the respect of seasoned and notable anglers Australia wide. In fact an annual national competition has been developed specifically targeting Bream on a catch and release basis. Bream are a popular and tasty fish to eat, but I do prefer to release them, much to the disappointment of my wife.

My home water is the Tuggerah Lakes on the Central coast of NSW and the dominant Bream species here is the Yellowfin Bream. It is easily recognisable by the distinctive yellow colouration on the pectoral fins.

Tuggerah Lakes are about an hour and a half north of Sydney. Tuggerah Lakes is comprised of three lakes - the first being Tuggerah which provides the only entrance to the ocean. Unsurprisingly the township at the mouth of the lake just so happens to be called "The Entrance" - we Australians are a clever lot!

The second lake is Budgewoi. It is connected to Tuggerah by a wide channel. Budgewoi, too, has good fishing and is better suited for boating anglers.

The top lake and the least fished, is my special favourite for chasing Bream in my kayak, Lake Munmorah. This lake is connected by a very narrow channel to Budgewoi Lake and has very little tidal flow.

Now for my story:

I wanted to stay in bed a little longer. It was a freezing winter morning, but to have every chance of catching some nice fish I knew an early start was essential. On went the peak cap, then the Beanie on top of that, a really bad look, but at least it keeps the winter chill out, well a little bit anyway.

Dawn was still about fourty-five minutes away so I took my time to unload my kayak from the car and get my gear organised for the 1 mile trip across Lake Munmorah. It was still dark enough to see the intermittent light from the Nora Head lighthouse. The stars were still visible in the sky.

A leisurely paddle across the lake to a small stand of dead trees was my destination. Only about 400 yards long, and sitting in about 12 to 15 inches of water is this timber forest, or as my wife likes to call it "The Deadwood Forest" as she thinks it looks like something out of Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings. It is a natural haven for Bream. It stands out starkly against the rest of the lake foreshore, and receives little pressure from other anglers due to its shallow waters and the frequent blooms of weed that hamper the boating anglers. It is very rare that I fail to catch a fish in this area as there are resident fish there year round.

Deadwood Forest

With the sun cresting the horizon and lighting up the stand of trees in a golden glow, and with no wind to blow my kayak around, conditions were ideal. A #5 weight floating line with a 12 ft leader was a suitable combination in the calm conditions so as not to spook the fish.

My fly of choice in this area is a Salty BMS, as it is a slow sinking fly and allows for the very slow and alluring retrieval method I like to use to entice a strike. As usual, that first cast was quite ordinary and fell well short of the tree I was aiming at. My second cast was much better, and by the fourth cast I was starting to find my range as the fly landed close to the trunk. I allowed a few seconds for the fly to sink a little, then I commenced a slow figure eight retrieve. I felt the line tighten slightly in my hand, and thinking my fly had touched weed, I lifted the rod tip to raise the fly to hopefully pull it above the weed. I felt even more resistance so I thought that my fly was jagged on a submerged branch.

Much to my surprise, the tip of my Loomis IMX #5 weight was savagely pulled back down and line stripped from my hand before I realised what was happening! I quickly clamped my finger on the line as a fish lunged back into the cover of the timber. I was concerned that the fish might bust me off as it was pulling incredibly hard and I had to muscle it away from all the timber that it was trying to reach. After a furious battle I landed a nice 12 inch Yellowfin Bream which I photographed and then released. I always like to take a few moments after the release to think about how the fish took the fly as often the fish will behave in a similar manner.


Ten minutes later as I worked my way along the line of trees I was into my second fish. As subtle as the take had been with the first fish, I was left in no doubt with the second hit. It felt like a "Ram Raid" it was so hard! Again, line was stripped from my hand before I was able to clamp down and stop the first run. This fish was in no mood to toy with me and started dragging the kayak in towards the cover of the trees so I had to back paddle with one hand whilst trying to keep the fish clear of the woods.


Once clear of the timber, I allowed the fish a bit of line in open water and after about 3 more strong runs was able to bring a nice 14 inch Bream to hand. The fish was quickly photographed and released to sulk in peace. For the next two hours I fished the entire 400 yards of golden hued timber for four more nicely sized Bream all meeting or exceeding 12inches. As the sun crept higher into the skyline the Bream predictably shutdown and so with a self satisfied smile I turned my kayak for home with a few nice photos as a memento of my morning. ~ Jeff Randal

More Fly Fishing Down Under:

Fly Fishing New Zealand
The Art of New Zealand Flying Fishing
Arthur's Lake, Tasmania
Trout-Tracking in New Zealand
Flyfishing Taupo (New Zealand) Streams & Rivers
Stalking the Large Trout of Australia
Fly Fishing the Northern Territory
Olympic Bass
The Best Trout Stream in the World
Ruakituri River, New Zealand
Matching the Hatch
A Guide to 'Cracking' the Mystery of the Mataura

Fly fishing in the Mitta Mitta Valley of NE Victoria, Australia
Bream on the Fly - Australia
A Very Rough Guide to Fishing New Zealand

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