Bream – Basic Knowledge

Big bream often feed best at nightThe 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. A Lovely BreamHooklengths 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!

23 Comments

  1. Steve parrott

    Apr 25, 2009

    Where can I purchase Braz{s}em from.I did manage to get some 2 yrs ago but I cannot remember from where

    reply
  2. Lewis thacker

    Jun 03, 2009

    i love breem fishing but i only seem to catch small ones. But i do fish the pole so could you give me a few tips as ime fishing a big bream water this saturday coming thanks.

    reply
    • Pete

      Jul 28, 2011

      pot in about 3 cups of meat, leave it for 1hr and a half and then fish small piece of meat over it, ive had them to 9lbs on the pole using this method 

      reply
  3. Steve Noon

    Jun 17, 2009

    Why is it that on a particular still water I fish I find myself having to wait all day from early in the morning until early evening before I start catching Bream. I have used all the techniques and baits that you have suggested in your article and still find myself scratching my head!!! Once I start catching I just can’t seem to stop as with one cast after the other, until the fall of dark, landing fish between 6lb and 10lb. Any more tips????

    reply
  4. Duncan Hood

    Jul 07, 2009

    i have been fishing for Bream for a few years but this year my usual place, Gunton lake in Norfolk is full of weed the owner doent clean it and it looks like they are only interested in the Carp boys, anyone know any other decent size lakes in Norfolk for Bream please.

    Dunk

    reply
  5. kevin james

    Jul 14, 2009

    swangy lakes attleborough.

    reply
    • Poo

      Jan 14, 2012

      try poo

      reply
  6. steve taylor

    Aug 12, 2009

    hello just a quick 1 , im a very keen bream man and go to matches on a local water and there is 1 man who wins the matches all the time no 1 no,s wat hes using and im struggling, any surggestions would be very greatfull , there are no band baits , ive been fishing these matches for a gud 20yrs and still cant master the bream thank you for your time………

    reply
  7. steve taylor

    Aug 12, 2009

    steve parrot if ya email me ill get you some we av a real good shop in middlewich cheshire called daves of middlewich they av got every thing ya need

    reply
    • CarperJack123

      May 02, 2011

      This is where I buy all of my stuff from! :-)

      reply
  8. russ

    Aug 18, 2009

    i know a river if thats any help er if u know were cow tower is iv gt some bream there lso perch roach pike carp
    all good :)

    reply
  9. liam sims

    May 21, 2010

    caught my first one today and i was pulling it in and a huge pike took a chunk out of it when i was pulling it in with the net

    reply
    • Matt Hayes

      Sep 09, 2011

      hey liam this is matt hayes and when i caught my first on it was small and a big perch took its tail so no need to get freaked out about it or anything

      reply
      • Tony w

        Apr 22, 2012

        Hi to all, I am going to chard res in somerset and I know to be a very large head of bream in there I was wondering if anyone would like to join me on my trip there? I’m looking st you bob nudd and matt Hayes if you would like to come along would be great to see some old hands at work and I’m sure that alot of the regulars would be more than happy to see you make an appearance thanks very much Tony w

  10. crayfish

    Jun 23, 2010

    take a bag ov 8mm marine hallibut pellets with u on ya next outing ………

    reply
  11. bob

    Nov 09, 2010

    hi just wondering if any body had a favaurite bait for bream

    reply
    • CarperJack123

      May 02, 2011

      Worm

      reply
    • JK

      Aug 15, 2011

      Bream, oh yes they bring back memories for me. The best bream bait I ever used (and I don’t here it in any forums etc) was boiled potatoes, dice them up into approx 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes, not too soft. Lay down a carpet of those mixed with sweetcorn (Yellow), and on the hook, place 2 pieces sweetcorn, 1/2 worn and another 2 pieces of sweetcorn…… results DEADLY!!! Tight-Lines.

      reply
    • Poo

      Jan 14, 2012

      try poo

      reply
  12. CarperJack123

    May 02, 2011

    For bream I use a 1oz tip on the feeder rod with a mix of trout pellets, groundbait and small halibut pellets, and a worm as the hookbait, I fill the keepnet up everytime with most bream well over 2 pounds…
    My secret ingredient is a bit of salt ( fish love it ) and The Pantry mixed spices from asda, they love this as it is nice and sweet
    My biggest bream from this method is 6 and a half pounds

    Hope this helped..
    Jack

    reply
  13. It took me a while to catch my first bream, but once I invested in a decent line and rod, it didn’t take long. Its all about the location too. 

    reply
  14. JK

    Aug 11, 2011

    Bream, oh yes they bring back memories for me.
    The best bream bait I ever used (and I don’t here it in any forums etc) was boiled potatoes, dice them up into approx 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes, not too soft. Lay down a carpet of those mixed with sweetcorn (Yellow), and on the hook, place 2 pieces sweetcorn, 1/2 worn and another 2 pieces of sweetcorn…… results DEADLY!!! Tight-Lines.

    reply
  15. Bob Nudd

    Mar 01, 2012

    For god sake you idiot Just cough and let them drop and grow up!!

    reply

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