The Secret Life of Perth City Bream

For those of you that cover big distances on your morning commute to the city for work, when you drive through the rush hour traffic as it builds up over the Narrows Bridge, you might momentarily look out over the river and think how relaxing it would be to live life as a fish for a day under the shade of the tall city sky scrapers.

Fishing from Point Walter Jetty at night

Swan River bream habitat

With the Perth city skyline in the background, bream get to work looking for food and shelter in the shallows, like this fantastic bit of habitat.

You might be surprised to find out that Perth’s fish have their own secret lives that take them on a journey throughout our rivers in their own 9 to 5 exploration of Perth’s underwater sites.

In fact, some of them move around so much they probably know the river better than anyone and if you’re looking for a tour guide to show you around the river then there would be no fish better equipped for the job than the Bream officially known as Fish Number 54537. This 30cm Perth city Bream likes to travel and during the last few months has explored over 130km of river!

This was just one of the findings from Swan Fish Track, an ongoing tracking study that is following 55 Perth city black bream as they explore the Swan Canning Riverpark.

Swan Fish Track is a partnership between the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Murdoch University to understand how black bream respond to changes in water quality and use different habitats in the Swan Canning Estuary, particularly the waters around the oxygenation plants in Guildford and Caversham.

The project received funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund supported by the Department of Fisheries and Recfishwest.

The study is giving us a unique perspective into what these fish get up to and discovering that these bream have their own secret lives right underneath our capital city.

Perth’s bream are individuals, and each fish displays its own unique behaviour. While some fish appear to be stuck in the rat race, such as one industrious fish that hustled through 11km of the river in less than 15 hours, other individuals appear to be content to just sit back and watch the world drift by.

If you have a friend who enjoys spending their weekends lounging on the grass at the WACA, then they would probably get along well with Fish Number 42650. This fish barely moved 2km in 4 months and is the kind of character who would be unlikely to leave their seat for an entire test match!

Black bream release

After an unusual short break to check out the sites above the water, this big bream heads back to its busy life below the surface of the Swan River.
Photo credit: @harry_tropiano_fishing

Black bream in the Swan River

A rare glimpse of a big city bream patrolling the Swan River shoreline. Photo credit: @mirek_99

Given Perth’s just experienced one of the wettest Februarys on record, it will be interesting to see the bream’s movements throughout the Swan and Canning rivers.

The project is ongoing so keep an eye out for more results as we continue to learn more about the secret life of Perth city bream.

Bream being taggedWant to know more?

To find out more about what the project has discovered so far, check out Recfishwest’s article:

Innovative Tracking Program Sheds New Light on Bream.

Black bream food sources

With a view of the city and lots of great options on the menu, this fallen tree provides premier dining options for Perth city bream. The menu includes, from top to bottom: Palaemonetes australis – glass shrimp, Atherinidae sp. – hardy heads and Mytilus galloprovincialis – blue mussels
Shrimp and mussels, all high energy food sources for bream.

The Swan and Canning rivers are teaming with fish life and there are plenty of places to explore with some great access for all levels of fishers. For more on fishing Perth’s Swan and Canning rivers, visit our Swan River Jetties article here.

How to Catch Black Bream

Learn how to catch this iconic species in our How to Catch article for black bream.

Swan River jetties map

Swan River jetty profiles

Check out our Swan River Jetties page for a comprehensive guide to help you plan your next fishing trip on the Swan River. The guide contains helpful information on available species and public amenities such as playgrounds and BBQ facilities.

WA’s Best Fishing Reports

Find out where the big fish are biting in our latest fishing reports.