Alex's Column 16/06/2022

If the forecasts are correct, the winds will have finally abated for this weekend, but hasn’t it been chilly.

Of course, with the cooler weather, it’s pikey bream time.

If there is one thing that annually coincides with the arrival of these chilly Darwin mornings, it is the northern pikey bream congregation along our coastal bays and up the saltwater creeks.

Both Darwin Harbour and Shoal Bay are as good a place as any to experience this annual bream run.

With the falling temperatures, it’s a fair bet that bream will be starting to move in around Larrakeyah, up Pioneer Creek and all around the Rock in Shoal Bay.

If you have a boat, catching them is quite easy.

At Larrakeyah, just anchor in any of the little bays from the point back towards the Naval Patrol Boat Base, preferably at night on the last half of the rising tide.

It’s best to use a light line on a suitable rod and reel: a thin braid line, in about 5-6 kg breaking strain, is perfect.

With braid, you’ll need a light mono leader. I’d suggest about 7kg fluorocarbon.

Use just enough lead running on the line to get the rig to the bottom, and bait up onto about a No 4 hook with small, whole prawns.

Lure casters should look to small plastic shads, grubs and prawn imitations.

The little Gulp Shrimps are excellent.

Often the bream are quite small and should be thrown back, but there are plenty of good ones as well, along with the occasional solid ock-ock.

The Rock can be fished on any tides for bream, but I rather fancy a rising tide in the evening.

Shore-based anglers will have success wherever a rising tide covers rocky foreshore areas.

The pikey bream is found only in the tropics.

It ranges from Shark Bay in WA, right across northern Australia and as far down the QLD coast as Rockhampton.

Pikey bream are extremely aggressive little predators, readily taking lures and flies meant for other, often much bigger, species in the saltwater creeks.

It grows to about 560mm, which would put it over the 3kg mark!

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s caught one that big because the biggest I’ve ever seen was about 1.5kg and half that size is more typical.

The pikey bream is a terrific family fish — kids love to catch them.

Along the harbour during the dry season, you can catch dozens in one session, but it’s best to take only what you and your family need for a feed. The tides are still in their big spring phase this weekend. With low tides in Darwin Harbour at 2.6m and 2.7m respectively on Saturday and Sunday, you could do worse than chucks some lures about up the harbour arms from after midday, and through the low tide until the incoming. There’ll be plenty of tidal movement offshore but, with the weather promising to be kind, there are some great bluewater options. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of boats out wide of Dundee hunting billfish this weekend. Plus the reefs, including all those great artificial reefs, will definitely get some visitation this weekend. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the weather sticks to the forecast.


Paul Eather with one of several big golden snapper caught on a trip to Seven Spirit Bay Wilderness Lodge.


The pikey bream is a Darwin inshore regular each dry season when it gets chilly