Bait fishing for bream on the Nong & Yarra

The Maribyrnong and Yarra River are intriguing fishing destinations along Melbourne’s doorstep. There not much to look at but their true beauty is hidden in the abundance of healthy bream they hold. I have fished these river systems for years and have some proven techniques to share to improve your catch rate.

Bream are an iconic species of Melbourne that can be targeted all year round. During winter they seek deeper water and in summer move into the shallows often spotted along the banks. They are active on sundown and sunrise and during peak tide changes. Fishing for them at night is  tricky with only some baits such as yabbies with movement work well.

Bream absolutely love structure and will seek shelter in shade, submerged trees, boat ramps, bridges, jetties, and pylons. It’s a good idea when bait fishing to set up near somewhere close to the structure.

Bait selection for bream

Bait choices for bream

Bait choices for bream

Bream will take a variety of baits, but I have had the most success with scrub worms, maggots, yabbies & sand worms. The full range of baits you can target bream with include maggots, scrub worms, yabbies, tube worms, pilchard strips, peeled prawns, raw chicken, bread, mullet gut, whitebait, mussels & pipis. All of these baits on their day will catch bream.

These baits are widely available from tackle stores. Tackle shops around Melbourne that you should check out include BCF, Hooked on bait and tackle, Trelly’s tackle world, Compleat Angler, Noel Clarke’s tackle bar, vTackle, CSC Fishing & Boating or buying online from A1baits and Spikebait.

Choosing a suitable rod and reel combo

The first thing you’re going to need is a suitable fishing rod combo. Weight and size are key when choosing the right rod for bream fishing. Start by selecting a rod between 6.6 – 8 foot in length and weight class of 1–3 or 2–4 kilos. Anything heavier just isn’t suitable for this style of fishing which requires finesse.

If your a beginner then your in luck, there are plenty of good entry level options that wont break the bank. A couple of good examples include the affordable Savage Gear MPP2 and 2000 black reel combo which will set you back around $120, another good starter option is the ever reliable Shimano Catana rod series such as the 702 estuary series Rod2-4 kilo coupled with the popular Sienna 2500 reel. This is an ideal rod combo when starting available for $129 at many tackle shops.

Light rod outfits are great for targeting finicky bream

Light rod outfits are great for targeting finicky bream

As your become more accomplished you may wish to upgrade your rod combo. The options here are endless. Some recommended options include the Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 702SPL 7 foot rod 2-4 class. Coupled with a ProMax 30 spinning reel is great and wont break the bank at a price around $229. Then Shimanos revolution series rods and reels such as Stadic, Nasci, Sedona at different price points. My current bream combo is the Savage Gear Black series spin rod 2-4 kilo paired with a Stealth 2000 reel.

Fishing line

Fishing line is very affordable now that you have purchased a suitable rod combo its time to spool your reel with line. If you were using lures then we would highly recommend braid but this article is focusing on bait fishing so we recommend a quality 4 pound monofilament line or 6 pounds if you choose to fish slightly heavier. From the main line, I run 50cm of 4 pound fluorocarbon leader. Fluorocarbon leader is a fishing line which you place at the end of your rig that’s been fused to make it thinner and harder for fish to see in the water. This is a real advantage when fishing for bream which are clever and easily spooked. There are many brands of line on the market so don’t be afraid to ask your tackle shop for some advice that fit within your budget.

Remember to keep the drag on your reel set very loose which will allow the bream to run with the bait without feeling an unnatural resistance. This will encourage more bites and allow better hookups. You can then tighten your reel once you on and have set the hook.

Rigging up options

I have experimented with many different fishing rig setups however I have 3 rigs that have proven to continually produce bream which are very easy to setup.

Rig 1 – Simple running sinker

Simple running sinker rig for bream

Simple running sinker rig for bream

Spool the main line with 4 pound monofilament ( main line shown in blue ), then join a leader directly to the main line ( leader shown in grey ). A simple double uni knot will work well here. The leader should be roughly 45cm in length of 4 pound fluorocarbon leader to a size 4 long shank bait keeper hook. This method is ideal when fishing unweighted live yabbies or packet prawns.

Rig 2 – Small hook

Small hook rig for bream

Small hook rig for bream

Spool the main line with 4 pound monofilament ( main line shown in blue ). Then place a pea size running ball sinker or a small berley cage above a small barrel swivel. Then use 45cm of 4 pound fluorocarbon leader ( leader shown in grey ) to a small size 12 or 14 hook. This rig is perfect when when using small baits like maggots & bread

Rig 3 – Unweighted

unweighted fishing rig for bream

unweighted fishing rig for bream

Spool the main line with 4 pound monofilament ( main line shown in blue ), then join a leader directly to the main line ( leader shown in grey ). A simple double uni knot will work well here. The leader should be roughly 45cm in length of 4 pound fluorocarbon leader to a size 4 long shank bait keeper hook. This method is ideal when fishing unweighted live yabbies or packet prawns.


Berley plays an important role when fishing for bream to firstly attract them into the immediate area, encourage them into an aggressive mood and then to keep them hanging around. You can purchase pre made berley from your local tackle shop such as Ultrabite or make your own Berley by mixing simple ingredients such as Tuna oil, chicken pellets, bread crumbs, pilchard, wheat and, bread.

HOTSPOTS around Melbourne & Victoria

There are many productive spots all along the Nong and Yarra that can produce quality bream all year round. Spots that you should try include the Footscray Buddhist temple, Dynon road bridge, Lynches bridge, under the West Gate bridge, Crown Casino entrance, Bolte Bridge, Pipemakers Park, Flemington racecourse, behind the anglers tavern, Canning reserve, edge water estate, Riverside park pirate ship playground, old explosives factory, Essendon rowing club near the visible drains, around Highpoint shopping center. In fact, the whole stretch of river can fish well on its day so be prepared to just simply walk the banks and cover new ground. In warmer months with polarized sunglasses and see Bream sitting in the shallows.

A bream from the Maribyrnong River

A healthy bream taken on the Maribyrnong River

Common mistakes to avoid

Time and time again I see anglers using tackle that’s too heavy. Large sinkers, large hooks, and heavy line is by far the most common mistake I see. Bream are an intelligent fish that will often play with the bait before taking the hook if they feel resistance they simply won’t take the bait and will instead move on. Bream are easily spooked so thick line, and big gear will spook them quickly. I am amazed how many time I see people fishing with large snapper sinkers, large hooks and, heavy 20 plus pound line.

I often see people using long heavy fishing rods that are more designed for chasing fish such as snapper and gummy sharks or for surf fishing for salmon. When targeting bream you need a rod that is light and sensitive with a heavy rod you may be getting bites and be completely unaware.


A light fishing rod & reel combo

4 to 6 pound monofilament fishing line

Fluorocarbon Leader ( optional but highly recommended )

A range of small hooks

Some running sinkers

Barrel swivels

Bait of choice ( scrub worms, yabbies, tube worms, pilchard, prawns, chicken, bread, pipis etc )

Landing net

Small long nose Pliers

Measuring Ruler

Sunscreen and hat

Rod holder

Bell ( optional )

Berley ( optional )

Final word from the author

I have been fishing the Nong and Yarra successfully for a few years now and hope the guide above will greatly improve your catch rate when bait fishing for Bream on the Nong. Remember to adhere to the Victorian legal size and bag limits. FishingMad always encourages catch and release especially if your fishing with kids.

Always carry your Victorian fishing license and adhere to fishing rules and regulations. Consult the Victorian Recreational Fishing guide

Share your ideas and feedback with us by emailing or contacting us on our Facebook Page. Make sure you send us pics of you fishing for and catching Bream on the Nong we would love to add them to this article.