Species Guide

Bream

Yellowfin | Black

This species guide was written by Black Magic Pro Team member, Cara Cummings. Cara is a highly experienced freshwater angler from Victoria, Australia; who has been expanding into saltwater fishing and loves spending time on the water with her husband Dean and 2 children. Cara is also a very accomplished chef, and writes our regular recipe blog - Cooking with Cara.

YELLOWFIN BREAM (Acanthopagrus australis) is found along the east coast of Australia, from Townsville in Queensland to the Gippsland lakes in Victoria.

BLACK BREAM (Acanthopagrus butcheri) is found along the southern coast from Shark Bay in WA, around to Ulladulla in NSW, as well as Tasmania.

There are several other species of bream found around Australia, including pikey bream and silver bream. Pikey bream are found along the northern coastline of Australia, from northwern WA, around to central Queensland.

YELLOWFIN BREAM

DESCRIPTION

Yellowfin bream have a silver or olive green body with yellow pectoral, ventral and anal fins. They also have a black spot on the upper part of the pectoral fin base, and the tips of their dorsal fin and tail are black. Fish that live in coastal waters usual have a silver body, while those who reside in estuaries are usually darker (olive green).

They are an excellent recreational catch, providing a good fight on light tackle. They’re capable of big bust-offs around structure such as snags and rocks.


SIZE AND WEIGHT

Yellowfin bream (also known as sea bream, surf bream or silver bream) grow slowly, taking about 5 years to reach 23cm fork length. They mature at around 22cm and can grow to a maximum length of 55cm fork length and about 3.7kg.

DIET

Yellowfin bream feed on small fish, crabs and shellfish like prawns, and worms. Adults find food in and around seagrass beds and mangroves, and they also forage in deep water over sandy and rocky reefs in winter and shallow water over sand in summer.


SPAWNING

Their spawning season peaks during July and August and takes place in surf zones and inshore waters near estuary entrances. The larvae enter estuaries, and the small juveniles live in the sheltered shallow water habitats (particularly seagrass beds and mangrove channels). Large juveniles can be found in slightly deeper water either in estuaries or coastal reefs near the shore.

WHERE TO FISH

Yellowfin bream is a coastal dwelling fish, primarily found in estuaries and along ocean beaches and rocky reefs, but they can also be found in lower freshwater reaches of coastal rivers.

HOW TO FISH

Yellowfin can be targeted from the shore or by boat and are commonly found around structures or on open sand flats and beaches. They're aggressive predators that will readily take lures or baits.

During the day, focus on areas around the structure. While at night target them on adjacent open areas such as sand flats.

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR YELLOWFIN BREAM

  • Bream are less likely to attack a fast moving bait or lure, so allow a couple of seconds between each movement (jig, hop or bounce)
  • J hooks tend to have a better success rate than circle hooks, however they are more likely to cause damage to the fish when removing them. So, if you’re planning to release your fish, use circle hooks
  • Accurate casting and aiming for areas with structure will increase your chances of tempting these fish; as bream will often be found hiding below piers, pylons or bridges
  • Fishing on either side of the tide change can increase your chance of success
  • If you’re fishing from a boat, targeting the shallow sand flats can be productive in low light as the bream will come out to forage for sand worms and crabs

BLACK BREAM

DESCRIPTION

Black bream have a rounded snout and a deep body. Their body is a gold-brown to bronze colour and they have a prominent lateral line. The head if often darker than the body, and their underside is usually creamy white while their fins are brown.

SIZE AND WEIGHT

Black bream (also known as southern black bream and southern bream) reach maturity between 2-5 years of age (depending on their location) and can reach 60cm and 4kg. It takes approximately 9 years for black bream to reach 28cm fork length.

Please check with your local fishing authority for minimum sizes and bag limits for black bream in your state.

DIET

Black bream are opportunistic predators, consuming a wide range of prey including crustaceans, (prawns, crabs etc), molluscs and small fish. In the upper reaches of rivers, their diets will include local freshwater plant matter along with tadpoles and insects.

SPAWNING

In Western Australia, black bream spawn from July to November, while in South Australia they spawn between November and January, and October to November in Victoria.

Spawning fish migrate into the upper reaches of rivers and stream where they shed their eggs with each fish producing up to 3 million per season. These eggs hatch 2-3 days after fertilisation. The young bream spend the next 4 years living in rivers, estuaries and parts of the coastline, often schooling over seagrass beds in shallow reaches of estuaries. As they get older, they can migrate to the ocean but will always return to the rivers as they can’t spawn in a saltwater marine environment.

WHERE TO FISH

Black bream are endemic to Australia, meaning they are only found here. They inhabit the southern coast from Shark Bay in WA, around to Ulladulla in NSW, as well as Tasmania.

Like yellowfin bream, they’re a popular recreational fish, but black bream are primarily found in estuaries and coastal lakes, rarely entering the ocean as they can’t complete their lifecycle in a fully marine environment.

Their preferred adult habitat includes overhanging banks among the branches of dead trees, jetties, oyster leases and rocky areas, and are found in the bottom of deep pools in rivers. Juvenile black bream tend to inhabit shallower waters.

HOW TO FISH

Black bream can be targeted from the shore or by boat, but it always pays to fish close to structure. A reliable approach is to flick lures or lightly weighted baits in amongst fallen trees in the upper parts of estuaries, or near any other type of structure.

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR BLACK BREAM

  • Keep your set up light, with as little weight attached as possible, so you can feel when the fish are biting. This will also enhance your casting distance and accuracy
  • Black bream are notoriously shy and finicky. They are easily spooked by movement in the area (including boats), so keeping your tackle light and as stealth as possible will help
  • Don’t work your lures too fast. The erratic movements will scare off your fish, so keep it slow and consistent

SIZE AND BAG LIMITS

All local fishing authorities around Australia set their own size and bag limits for recreational angling. The following information has been obtained from each authority, but is subject to change at any time.

VICTORIA
Minimum length - 28cm
Maximum length - 38cm - only applies to black bream caught in the Gippsland Lakes and tributaries (not including Lake Tyers)
Bag limit - 10 total (combined for all bream species) with a maximum of 7 black bream in the Gippsland Lakes
Click here to visit the Victorian Fishing Authority website.

NSW
Minimum length - 25cm
Bag limit - 10 total (combined for all bream species)
Click here to visit the NSW recreational fishing website.

QUEENSLAND
Minimum length - 25cm
Bag limit - 30 total (combined for all bream species)
Click here to visit the QLD recreational fishing website.

NORTHERN TERRITORY
Minimum length - N/A
Bag limit - 15 total (combined for all bream species)
Please note that NT has a 15 fish maximum possession limit across all species. This is called the general possession limit.
Click here to visit the NT recreational fishing website.



TASMANIA
Minimum length - 25cm
Bag limit - 5 total (combined for all bream species) with a personal possession limit of 10
Click here to visit the TAS recreational fishing website.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Minimum length - 30cm
Bag limit - 10 total (combined for all bream species) with a daily boat limit of 30 bream (all species) for 3 or more anglers
Click here to visit the SA recreational fishing website.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Minimum length - 25cm for all species, excluding yellowfin bream which is 30cm
Daily bag limit - 6 total (combined for all bream species) with a maximum of 2 black bream over 40cm from the Swan and Canning rivers
Mixed bag limit - 16 combined with all nearshore/estuarine finfish
Click here to visit the WA recreational fishing website.

GEAR GUIDE

Bream are easily spooked so fishing with light tackle is important. But their small size can be deceiving, as they can put up a good fight, so your gear set up is really important.

A firm drag setting and abrasion resistant leader will see you land better quality fish. Black bream also respond well to burley so if you prefer a passive approach throw a burley bag in the water and bring the fish to you.

LINE

YELLOWFIN BREAM - A light 8lb braid, like Hyperglide® 13x Braid is ideal for fishing in estuaries but increase the line weight to 16-20lb when fishing off the beach or near rocks.

BLACK BREAM - A light 8lb braid, like Hyperglide® 13x Braid is ideal as it offers improved casting distance and accuracy.

LEADER

YELLOWFIN BREAM - 4-8lb fluorocarbon leader is recommended in estuaries, increasing to 12-16lb leader when fishing around structure.

BLACK BREAM - 4-8lb fluorocarbon leader is recommended but you may need to increase this to 10-12lb if you keep busting off on structure.

TACKLE

YELLOWFIN BREAM - If you’re bait fishing, use beach worms, pipis or prawns. Rig these on a paternoster style rig with 1/0 hooks with the smallest sinker possible for the conditions. You can also fish with a small hardbody lure, like our BMax50 or BMax60 lures; or soft plastic lures with a light jighead.

BLACK BREAM - If you’re bait fishing, a small 1/0 – 3/0 hook, and use prawns, pilchards, small strip baits, crabs, pippies and worms as bait. You can also target black bream with soft bait lures, or hard body lures like our BMax lures. No matter how you’re fishing you want use as little weight as possible – unweighted is even better.

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