Fishing for Bream
The bream is widespread throughout the UK’s river systems. Ireland’s lakes and waterways are particularly noted for the species, too, and are today a magnet for anglers who travel across the water searching for net-bursting hauls of fish. Bream thrive in the more sedentary, large lowland reaches of rivers, and the middle and lower Thames, lower Severn, Warwickshire Avon, and the larger Norfolk rivers are all famed for their superlative bream fishing. However, the species also do well in smaller, faster flowing rivers and large specimens can suddenly appear rubbing shoulders with barbel in the streams of water.
The deep-bodied bream lives in tightly packed shoals numbering from half a dozen individuals to many hundreds. Often they will make their presence felt by the constant false indications on a rod tip or a continually dancing float, as many bodies bump into and catch the line.
The bream is much coveted by the matchman, for being pegged on the ‘bream ‘ole’ and fishing it correctly is a sure recipe for match success. It is a rather uninteresting fish in its juvenile years. The youthful bream is silvery and very narrow in the body, sometimes described as ‘blades’ by the matchman, but more usually referred to as ‘skimmers’. Upon reaching a mature weigh of 3—41b or more, and bulking up into it deep sided hump-backed adult shape, takes on a bronzed colocation sometimes two-tone, with a dark and light split between the front and half and are nicknamed ‘slabs’. A bream of 4-5 lbs is a very impressive fish to look at and, unlike their still-water counterparts, river-bream lack a heavy coating of mucus.
Bream feed on shrimps, snails, blood- worms and other insect larvae in the river bottom. Unlike the roach, which prefers gravel or sand, the bream will avidly feed in deep silt, up-ending on its head and hoovering up the silt with its extendible lips, sifting out the food and blowing out clouds of inedible sediment. Feeding bream shoals can often be located in clearer rivers by observing the significant muddying of the river in the vicinity and just downstream of the shoal. They will come up in the water to feed in warm weather, picking off hatching insect that are carried on the currents, and sipping emerging flies from the surface. Loose-fed maggots, introduced with every trot of a shallow-set float, will often bring the bream lining up to intercept the bounty, several feet below the surface.
A big shoal of bream requires a large supply of food, and the fish graze very much like a herd of aquatic buffalo, feeding and moving on to fresh grounds. Often an angler will net one or two decent bream and believe he is in for a bonanza, only to sit without a bite for the remainder of the day the shoal has lumbered into the swim, mopped up the loose feed in minutes, and moved on! In common with the roach, daytime light levels play an important role in the even in the bream’s feeding activities deeper swims where not much light penetrates at the best of times.
The best times to catch bream are at either end of the day, at night, ancl when heavy cloud blankets the skies. also shares the roach’s habit of rolling at the surface, and the course of a shoal is often marked with the boils of porpoising fish.
Tackle for bream
Bream are not noted for their fight when hooked, and 12—13ft match-rods for float fishing, and quivertip rods and light feeder rods married with 2.5—51b lines will hook and bring most bream to the net. Hook sizes depend on the bait used; 14 to 18 tied to 2—31b hook lengths are best for maggots and caster, while larger baits such as worm and bread require the use of hooks between 8 and 12.
Baits for bream
The bream will take most baits, from a large cube of luncheon meat, intended for barbel, to maggots and casters. Sweet- breaclflake, maggots corn, redwornos, and caster all ova ke excellent hookbaits for bream, pa la rly a reclwornn and caster or flake cocktail. But it is the groundbait that is the most important if you want to capture a reasonable bag of bream. Despite being a large, lumbering fish, the brearn at tinnes, needs the most delicate of bait presentation. This is par- ticularly so in the winter nnonths when low water tennperatures make this fish a fickle feeder. In contrast, there are times when the crudest of tackles set for barbel are picked up. Generally, however, a larger bait of red worm and sweetcorn cocktail on a size 8 or 10 hook to 2.51b will sort out the better members of a shoal. It will be necessary to reduce the bait size during the colder spells.
Bream specialists pay great attention to groundbait. Not only must it be of a good quality, but there must also be plenty of it. Stopping a shoal of bream is essential if one is to hook more than a couple of fish. A mixture of brown and white crumb and a proprietary ground- bait, such as Sensas Bream 3000, mixed with samples of the hookbait, such as chopped worms, maggots and caster, is made up prior to fishing and fed into the swim. It is essential for the swim to be constantly topped up with a feeder or further balls of groundbait particularly once the bream arrive or they will soon finish it up and move on.
When fish have entered a shallow water swim, perhaps only 5ft deep, con- tinue baiting with loose feed rather than frighten the fish off with a bombardment of groundbait balls. Pre-baiting baiting up a swim regularly each clay for a week or more prior to fishing is an excellent way to educate a shoal of breatn to expect to find food in a specific area, particularly if your baitings are at a time of day to correspond with your eventual fishing time. If your aim is to catch the better river is clear, one may also see more bream lying below those at the surface, and even more below those, Such gatherings may stretch for many yards. It is a phenomenal sight and the water is often described as being ‘black with bream’. Why they do this is a mystery; perhaps this deep water fish is enjoying the sun on its back for a change. What is certain, though, is that they will not be tempted to feed until the sun westers.
When Fishing for Bream they feed throughout the year, with summer and autumn being the best seasons. In the winter months, the angler must choose his days carefully. Best are those soft, mild days with grey cloud-laden skies and warmish water temperatures with a little color in the river. Heavy frosts considerably reduce one’s chances of a bream and, despite their affinity for silt, muddy flood-driven waters put the bream off. Reduce the levels of groundbait in the winter, but never leave your swim bare, for the bream will pass by ancl be gone before you have playecl and unhooked the first fish of the shoal.
Good luck on your adventures when you’re Fishing for Bream