Tarwhine

(Rhabdosargus sarba)

Commonly referred to as Silver bream!

Often confused with yellow fin bream the tarwhine is a popular by catch species often encountered around rocky outcrops, sandy beaches and shallow, offshore reefs by both boat and shore based anglers alike. Commonly referred to as a silver bream the tarwhine is in fact a member of the Sparidae family and is closely related to both the black and yellow fin bream. They are a feisty little battler that is commonly taken using a wide variety of techniques and baits making the tarwhine one of the most popular by catch species available today.

Distribution

Tarwhine can be located throughout W.A. from as far south as Albany up to the Shark Bay region and also from southern Queensland down into N.S.W. and across VIC and S.A. Some parts of northern Tasmania also hold good numbers.

Growth

Tarwhine like most bream species are an incredibly slow growing fish that reaches maturity at around 15 – 20cm folk length and 2 – 3 years of age. After this age their growth slows considerably! They posses immature ovaries and testes at this early stage and not until the tarwhine’s first spawn will it decide whether it wants to be a female or a male. Tarwhine will generally spawn in spring or summer November to January here in Australia with water temperature, salinity, availability of food and appropriate habitat all playing a major role in the spawning success of the species.  Tarwhine can reach maximum lengths of up to 50cm and 1.5kg in weight although most tarwhine encountered here in W.A average around 800 grams with a great capture being anything over a kilo depending on angling experience.

Habitat

Tarwhine prefer most estuary habitats and inshore waters from shallow ,sandy, reefs and bays to deeper channels and areas with both natural and man made structures.  Wharves, rock walls and jetties are always a great place to find tarwhine as they shelter from predators and feed on the many food sources found in the area. Tarwhine can also often be found mooching around in sheltered bays for molluscs and worms.

Identification

Tarwhine can be easily identified by the golden, yellow horizontal lines that run down the length of the body and the round, blunt head shape. They also have a black lining on the inside of the stomach and posses 6 – 7 scale rows above the lateral line as opposed to the 4 – 5 on a bream.

Taste rating

  • Forty Taste Rating
    40%

Tarwhine are considered to be a far less popular eating species than the bream and are generally released due to their slow growth rates.

Sport rating

  • Sixty Sport Rating
    60%

Big tarwhine have plenty of power especially when they are headed into heavy cover.

Tackle requirements

Ultra light and light graphite spin rods 6’6” – 7’ in length that will cope with gel spun and braided lines rated from 1 – 4kg are ideally suited to targeting tarwhine and when coupled with quality spin reels in the 1000 – 2500 class make excellent outfits for throwing both baits and lures. Larger outfits spooled with heavier 10 – 12lb nylon line can also be used when targeting larger fish around heavy cover with baits but will struggle to cast small hard bodied and soft plastic lures. Fluoro carbon leaders with breaking strains of 2 – 10lb should also be joined to mainlines via an improved albrite knot and not only prevent the fish from seeing your brightly coloured main line but also help from being chaffed of on rough underwater structures.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Fresh or live river prawns, blood worms, muscles and small bait fish such as mullet are all ideal bait options for chasing tarwhine and should be fished on a pattern and size of hook that’s suit’s the bait. Example – blood worm fished on long shank or bait holder pattern of hook similar in size to the bait. Hard bodied, sub surface and soft plastic lures from 50mm – 100mm in length will also temp big tarwhine into striking with this exciting new style of fishing really taking off amongst all anglers from beginners to the pro’s over the last few years.

Handy hints and tips

Try rubbing a couple of drops of aniseed oil on your hands before making tarwhine rigs or commencing fishing, this will encourage shy fish to actively feed and is considered to be illegal in some countries due to its efficiency. Always fish as light as possible for tarwhine this includes sinkers, lines and leaders. Quality lures and fresh baits will always catch you better quality fish.

Preferred fishing times and tides

Tarwhine prefer rising tides and low light periods such as dawn or dusk but will also actively feed during most stages throughout the day and night depending on tidal movement and of course location.

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