I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Bream – Basic Knowledge
The bream is an absolute legend of a fish. What more could an angler want than to be sat in the water on a vast Irish loch, with waves lapping up onto your platform, the tip of your rod slowly nodding right round before you pick up, ‘CLUNK’, and feel the solid thumping of another big slab on the other end?!
The bream is one of the most widespread fish across Europe, with its distribution stretching all the way from England, across France, north of the Alps to the Urals and from there into Asia!
The bream is a really deep bodied fish, with compressed sides, which give the fish a very thin appearance. Larger, mature fish have a dark brownish bronze back, a lighter bronze side, and an almost white belly. Many really big bream go a very black colour, which is normally due to old age. Some really interesting fish have been caught, known as ‘two tone’ bream, which have a different colouration on two half’s of their body, with almost a line drawn straight down the middle! The smaller of the species are a much lighter colour, very silvery across the body with a white belly. These fish are known as Skimmer Bream, or ‘Skimmers’, and tend to start to go a darker colour at around 5 years of age. Bream have a protruding mouth, with their top lip coming over the bottom to give the fish a hoover like mouth suited to sucking food up of the bottom.
Bream are naturally abundant in the lower and slower reaches of large rivers, where they form large shoals, especially the smaller of the species. Bream also occur naturally in many of the large stillwater’s across Europe, famously in the Lochs of Ireland. From the rivers and lakes, bream have found their way in to nearly all of our British waterways, and now live happily in most of our canals. They have also been stocked into man made commercial fisheries, and offer match and pleasure anglers great sport.
Fishing for Bream
The classical way to fish for bream is on the ground bait feeder. This method is often used to target bream on natural waters, rivers and lakes. A simple paternoster setup is a well known bream rig, although a simple running rig is just as effective. Slide your feeder up the line, then a bead, and then tie on a swivel. Your hooklink is then attached to the other end of your swivel. This running fig offers as little resistance as possible to the fish, and therefore they will take the bait much more confidently. A soft, light tip in your feeder rod, 1oz say, will also be a big advantage for the same reason, and will also aid you when fishing for finicky fish that only give you a small indication on the tip.
Braided line can be used to give positive bite indication, especially when casting long distances, as there is minimum stretch in this kind of line. When fishing for bream of the feeder, the length of your tail is very important!
It always seems better to err on the side of longer than shorter. A good starting point is around 3 foot. It the fish are hard to come by, don’t be afraid to try hookliengths of 5 foot or more, as these will give your hook bait a slow natural fall, and your hook bait will be well away from the feeder, where those wary shy fish may be sitting. A fairly soft through action rod is also handy when bream fishing, as this will reduce hook pulls from their soft mouths. Hooklengths of 2lb to 4lb are best for bream, although heavier can be used when they’re really ‘avin it!
Ground bait Mixes
Bream naturally have a really sweet tooth. If you see a bag of ground bait with Bream on it, it is usually very sweet. All companies now make this classic sweet mix for bream, and all will do a similar job. One of the most important things to carry when bream fishing in my opinion is BROWN CRUMB. It’s about a quid for a kilo of the stuff, and all bream love it! A 50/50 mix of brown crumb with another ground bait will produce a fluffy mix, sweet smelling which should catch you some bream! Mixes for the feeder should be a little on the dry side, which will enable you to add juicy baits like chopped worms, casters and pinkies to the mix without it getting too wet.
A recent turning point in bream fishing is the introduction and use of fishmeal ground baits. Bream, like many large fish, seem to be attracted to the stuff. A fishmeal mix with some brown crumb has accounted for some recent big bream catches, especially on heavily fished carp waters and commercials. Small pellets added to the mix are also a good fish holding bait, and some big bream have been caught using small boilies and pellets on the hook!
Other good additions to the mix are additives such as Brasem or Sweet Molasses, both gorgeous smelling, available in liquid of powder form.
Hook baits can really vary. Red maggot is really versatile, as is a worm or sweet corn. Bream also have a liking to a bit of a cocktail of a hook bait, with a worm tipped with sweet corn effective, as is sweet corn and a red maggot or fluro pinkies. Some really weird and wonderful baits have caught bream, so don’t be afraid to experiment!
The feeder is by no means the only way of catching bream. Waggler fishing has accounted for some fantastic bream catches, as has slider float fishing. The pole is another very effective method especially on commercial fisheries and canals. Neat chopped worms and casters cupped in on the pole will usually see a bream or two come to the net. On canals and lakes, balling in ground bait to make a fish attracting noise can be effective for skimmers and bream. Bream are a real weight boosting fish on commercials, and can be caught very quickly if you get them feeding. Pellets and casters regularly loose fed, almost like carp fishing, can bring the fish up in the water, which goes against the breams stereotypical ‘Bottom Feeding’ habits. There are some days when Bream will want a bait holding dead still. When fishing the pole, this presentation can be hard to come by, so a front rest or gentleman’s bar will support the pole on give you this still presentation. Also don’t be afraid to whack plenty of line on the deck, and even some shot, this will ofter give you some cracking lift bites from bream!
When targeting bream on the pole, soft elastic will act like a soft rod, and reduce hook pulls. Bream are not the hardest fighting fish, but tend to fight dogged with a steady thumping and nodding action. The spring and the autumn are classic months to fish for bream, that’s why many anglers travel to Ireland at the back end of September. Also, some of the biggest record bream have been caught at night, when they will feed more confident closer in. Hot calm conditions are not really favourable for Bream fishing, more of a wild windy day, where waves are on the water, and churning up the bottom tend to be when the best bream catches are recorded. Also fishing with a strong wind (preferably warm) in your face may also increase your chances of catching bream, as they are known to follow the wind.
Get out there and have a day targeting bream, there’s sure to be water nearby that holds the species!