The top baits for catching bream


The top baits for catching bream

Although I mostly fish for bream with lures these days sometimes it’s great to head out with some bait and have a bit more of a relaxing fish. When it comes to which bait to use there are so many options. Bream can be found anywhere from estuaries, harbours, beaches to off the rocks. They are also known as opportunistic feeders but from our experience with lures we also know they are effective hunters. So when it comes to catching bream on bait we have quite a few options depending on the fishing scenario. Here are some of my preferred baits.

Live Prawns

This requires some serious dedication but is absolutely 20151013IronCoveBreamworth it. Nothing beats a live prawn on a light gauge hook dangling under a tiny float and drifted over ribbon weed. As fish approach the bait you can feel the prawn flicking to escape the inevitable. This flicking action must drive the fish nuts as many a good bream, luderick and whiting has come unstuck using this technique.

Here in NSW (where we can’t use cast nets) prawns are best found by wading shallow ribbon weed beds with a torch and a scoop net of a night. They need to be kept alive in an aerated bait tank until you are heading out fishing (usually overnight). For this reason I don’t use them too often!

Fish Strips

Fish strips are an extremely effective way to target bream. Strips of fresh mullet and bonito tend to be very effective at bringing fish in from a distance. They are quite strong smelling baits and bream seem to follow the smell back to the bait.

Don’t be afraid of using big baits either. I have had big strip baits for bull sharks mutilated by very large bream, clearly not put off by the large hook and wire trace.

Chicken Gut/Fillets

Next on the list is chicken gut and chicken fillet. Heaps of people swear by these baits, particularly after the rain when the water is dirty. Personally, I can’t handle the thought of handling chicken guts so can’t speak from experience.

However, I have seen plenty of huge bream hanging around floating dead birds in estuary systems. The ecosystem has to do something with them and I guess that along with crabs, bream would be well accustomed to eating a bit of bird.


Bread is the estuary go-to bait when you want to just catch good numbers of fish (any fish). The best bread is usually the cheap and nasty stuff – I don’t think they care too much for your wood fired sourdough varieties.

You firstly need to get a bit of berley happening and it 20151011-BreadBaithelps if the tide is running. Throw small pieces of bread into the water every few seconds until you hear the telltale kissing noise of bream sucking the pieces off the surface.

Feed some similar sized baits back on a fine-gauge hook either unweighted or under a small float. This technique not only works on bream but mullet, luderick and trevally can be regular by-catch.

Whiting heads

You may expect that the head of a legal sized whiting to be too large for a bream. As I mentioned in number 2 above big bream will pick at shark baits so it isn’t too much of a stretch to try to swallow a whiting head. Next time you catch a feed of whiting keep some of the heads and use them when you go bream fishing. The size of these baits will probably discourage some of the smaller fish but big ones will quite readily have a go. It may however take a little while for them to get the bait down so let them run with it for a while before you strike.


While all these baits are fantastic options they really come into their prime once you start putting burley in the water. Often anglers think that burley attracts small fish, pest species and birds. While this is true the activity they create and the breaking down of the burley tends to attract the larger fish. Often you won’t see them though as they tend to hang a bit further back in the burley trail. If you can initially get your bait a bit further down the burley trail you will start getting into the bigger fish.

Our Top Bream Bait Tips20151013IronCoveBream2
  • Often bigger baits will get you the better quality fish
  • Fish with light line – they are only bream!
  • A tiny float can assist in presenting baits
  • Berley will get you on to more fish
  • Get out there and try some of these tips this weekend!

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The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

John Buchan