CBD bream basics
  |  First Published: September 2015

Considered a species that punches well above its weight, black bream are often classified a bread and butter fish. Although looking from a sporting side of things, it’s one of the harder finesse species to catch.

Melbourne’s own Yarra River has a reputation of holding big black bream in the 40cm+ range. Bream fishing in this area can be made quite simple or quite complicated at the same time. For this reason, bream have become arguably the most popular and widely-targeted fish in Australia.


The Yarra River has a lot to offer for bream anglers. The banks of the river have a number of barbecue and picnic facilities for families, fishing platforms and jetties. There are trails and paths, which cater for cyclists, walkers and joggers. Both Southern Cross and Flinders Street Station back onto to the Yarra River, so getting there by public transport is made easy. There are a number of trams that stop outside both stations, with the closest boat ramp being Williamstown, also known as the ‘Warmies’ or ‘Hotties’.

Gear of choice

Whether you’re lure or bait fishing, a light rod is a must, the reason being that you can feel sensitive bites and stay in contact with your line a lot easier. A 1-3 or 2-4kg rod with a 1000-2500-size reel is a perfect outfit.

Bream can be one of the toughest fish to catch at the best of times. During the cooler months, bream will become less active meaning a lot more persistence and in depth knowledge is needed.

When targeting bream on lures, fishing as light as possible is best. Soft plastics such as curl-tail grubs with a light jighead that will flutter down as slow as possible is your best chance. Whatever lure you choose, something that will stay in the strike zone for as long as possible is the key.

The phrase ‘match the hatch’ is used quite frequently when it comes to targeting a fish, and with a large population of crabs around the mouth of the Yarra, using an imitation such a Cranka Crab is the perfect lure to tie on.

When lure fishing for bream, a finesse approach is a must, meaning a light leader such as 4-6lb is required, because your casting will become more accurate when choosing light lures.

When bait fishing, a simple running sinker rig with a small hook and a bit of prawn or muscle will get the job done. Keep in mind that the lightest possible sinker is best.


In most cases of fishing, there is a specific retrieve when casting lures. However, with bream, mixing things up can work in your favour.

Bream tend to shut down in the cooler months, meaning slow retrieves with a pause every now and then will really work in your favour. One of the most popular retrieves when bream switch on is bouncing your lure off the bottom, and it has proven to be a really effective method, especially with sinking lures.

Location and Time

From the mouth of the Yarra there’s kilometres of fishable water all the way through the city. Fishing one hour of the run-in tide and half an hour after high tide gives you the best chance at hooking a bream in this area. As the water comes into the river, bream will be coming over the flats holding around structure, waiting for the current to wash food past.

Overall, the key to bream fishing is structure. For the simple reason that that’s where bream forage for food and use it as a form of protection from predators and fast flowing current. Fishing around Bridge Pylons, berthing docks, and rocky banks will increase your chances of hooking a Bream.

On your doorstep

For Melbourne anglers, particularly land-based angler, bream fishing in the Yarra is a fantastic means of getting your fix without even leaving the city! In fact, many bream are taken right in the heart if Melbourne’s CBD! Get out there and give it a go!

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