One of the most popular fish with anglers, the bream is widespread throughout Britain and Europe. There are two species of bream, the bronze and the silver. The silver bream is not nearly so common as the bronze bream and does not grow very large. Bronze bream can be large and fish over 12 lb (5-4 kg) have been caught. The small bronze bream are often referred to as skimmers and are generally a silvery colour which closely resembles that of the silver bream. Once the bream have reached about 31b (1.4 kg) they take on the darker coloration which gives the species its name. On some waters the bream can be so dark they are nearly black. Bream have deep bodies, but are fairly flat. They are found mainly in lakes and slow flowing rivers, but on some of the larger rivers bream will sometimes shoal in huge numbers in the faster water below a weir. When hooked, bream are not the best of fighters but in flowing water they will use their broad flanks to good advantage. One of the attractions of bream for anglers is that they can often be caught in great numbers. Shoal bream usually weigh between 1 lb and 5 lb (0.45 kg to 2-25kg). The larger bream are either solitary fish or rove around in small groups.
Bream are bottom feeders and when a massive shoal of fish are feeding madly they can cause the water to become discoloured. This is extremely helpful when trying to locate a shoal of bream. Like barbel, bream have the habit of rolling on or near the surface. At long range you may not actually see the fish, just a series of swirls and a big, black tail appearing above the surface. Bream are also wanderers, and a shoal of fish may travel considerable distances.
Baits and tackle for catching bream
When fishing at close range in a river or lake, an antenna or bodied wag-gler float should be used and fixed by the bottom end only. Shot the tackle so that the bulk of the weight is immediately below the float and the tackle sinks slowly. Feeding bream will often swim in tiers through the water, and those at the top will accept the bail as it sinks amongst the shoal. Check the length of time it normally takes for that float to cock and settle down in the water. If, after casting out, your tackle doesn’t cock in the normal time, strike, because a bream may have taken your bait as it was sinking.
Since the bream are not renowned fighters, your line does not need to be particularly strong. A three pound (1.35 kg) breaking strain line will handle the average shoal bream. In flowing rivers, or when fishing at long range, leger tackle is best employed for bream. This is exactly the situation for which the swing tip bite detector was developed. Cast slightly beyond the feeding fish, and as soon as your tackle lands in the water, reel in quickly to draw your leger into the right spot.
Tighten up so that the swing tip is set correctly. Most bream bites are positive and the swing tip will straighten up smoothly. As soon as you have struck into a fish, try and draw it away from the rest of the shoal. When legering for bream it often pays to use a long trail. (The trail is the distance between the hook and the leger weight.) By leaving a long trail the bait will fall slowly to the river or lake bed after the leger weight has landed. Bream will then grab the bait as it is falling. In fairly shallow water, where the activity of the bream is discolouring the water, it is possible to determine the edge of the shoal. Where you can discover this, try and place your hookbait near the fish at the edge of the shoal since fish hooked in the middle of the shoal will eventually scare the remainder with their struggles.
When bream fishing, a common occurrence is for the swing tip to keep twitching up and then falling back. Striking will fail to hook any fish, or occasionally a bream is foul-hooked. The cause of this twitching of the swing tip is bream milling about on the bed of the river or lake and catching your sunken line with their fins. These twitches are often referred to as line biles. When you encounter this problem try reeling in a few turns at a time as the bream are milling around between you and your tackle. Groundbaiting is essential to keep a large shoal of bream feeding in one small area. It is almost impossible to throw in too much groundbait when you discover a large shoal of bream in a wide river during summer. In deep water the groundbait should be moulded into cricket ball sized lumps and lobbed into the feeding area. These balls of ground bail should be firm enough not to break up when they hit the surface. Judging how and when to groundbait for bream is not always easy. A shoal of fish located in shallow water will sometimes move away if large balls of groundbait are crashing into the water above their heads. In this situation small balls of groundbaIf thrown in at frequent intervals is often the answer.
The most successful baits for bream are worms, maggots, bread-paste. And sw eclcorn. Lobworms will catch bream but the tails of lobworms. Or redworms, are better. Sometimes a ‘cocktail bait’ of maggots and a small worm will catch bream when they are finicky. When you catch one bream the chances are that you will catch many more, so do not cram too many into a small keepnet or they will be injured.