Bream, Black

(Acanthopagrus butcheri)

Commonly referred to as Blackies!

The black bream is one of our states most important recreational and commercial fish species due to their ability to cope with most salt and fresh water environments.  They have adapted over the years to become not only versatile enough to feed on a large variety of estuarine food sources but also cope with the introduction of human development extremely well making them a popular target species for all anglers. The Sooty grunter of our north is also occasionally referred to as a black bream although the two are in no way related.


Black bream can be located throughout W.A from as far south as Esperance and north to Kalbarri in most of our beloved water ways. They are also prevalent throughout other southern Australian states such as N.S.W., S.A., VIC and Tasmania making the black bream one of the countries most popular target species.


Black bream are an incredibly slow growing species that reaches maturity at around 15 – 20cm in length and 2 – 3 years of age. They posses immature ovaries and testes at this early stage and not until the bream’s first spawn will it decide whether it wants to be a female or a male. Black bream will generally spawn in spring or summer November to January in Australia with water temperature, salinity, availability of food and appropriate habitat all playing a major role in the spawning success of the species.  Black bream grow a lot faster in the Swan and Canning rivers than they do in northern and southern estuary systems of W.A and can reach maximum lengths of up to 58cm. A specimen of 2.98 kg was captured in the Swan river in 1998. Most black bream encountered in Australia average around 800 grams with larger fish proving to be more prevalent in remote, southern, estuary systems.


Black bream prefer most estuary habitats from shallow sandy and muddy bays to deeper channels and areas with both natural and
man made structures.  Wharves and jetties are always a great place to find Black bream as they shelter from predators and feed on the many food sources available in these areas.


Black bream are part of the Sparidae family and are a pan shaped fish with a sloping forehead and small pointed mouth full of small clasping and crushing teeth. They are heavily scaled and bright silver in colouration in clear environments and a darker chocolate brown colouration in brackish or discoloured waters. The tail is dark in colour and concave shaped to produce maximum efficiency. Black bream have 52 -58 scales in their lateral lines and no pronounced anal spine.

Taste rating

  • Seventy Taste Rating

Although Black bream are very good eating they are how ever considered more of a sport fish than a table fish these days which has more than likely got something to do with their extremely slow growth rates.

Sport rating

  • Seventy Sport Rating

Big, black bream 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 black bream and when coupled with quality spin reels in the 1000 – 2500 class make excellent outfits for throwing both baits and lures for black bream. 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 and small bait fish such as boney herring and mullet as well as small fresh muscles are an  ideal bait option for chasing big bream 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 bream 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. Many tournaments and clubs have now been set up to encourage and educate the new generation of bream fishing fanatics.

Handy hints and tips

Try rubbing a couple of drops of aniseed oil on your hands before making bream 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 for attracting fish. Always fish as light as possible for bream this includes sinkers, lines and leaders. Quality lures and fresh baits will always catch you better quality bream. Bream fishing with lures is much more fun and often more productive than fishing with bait.

Preferred fishing times and tides

Bream 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.


[What The Fish]