Is the humble bream the most scorned species of our native coarse fish?
All the evidence points to it. Starting with the less than complimentary terms used to describe them; Snotties, slimeys, dustbin lids and skimmers (throw away) – these seem harsh compared to some of the more affectionate terms we use for other species.
They are perhaps the ultimate ‘nuisance’ species, mainly because they seem to live and prosper everywhere from fast flowing chalk streams to the deepest reservoirs to vast, windswept inland seas – they’re everywhere. Their catholic tastes result in even pike anglers deadbaits being taken by bream, from time to time.
There’s no fun in reeling in a flaccid bream on gear more suited to stopping a rhino and I can’t deny there are times when I’ve bemoaned a small bream taking my strategically positioned bait intended for a barbel or carp.
And roach anglers bemoan the bream’s interference with their favourite species. How often has what appeared initially to be a big roach morphed into a roach bream hybrid upon closer inspection?
They’re not fighters either. Though most anglers have a tale regarding a turbo charged bream that they were convinced was something else and both pike and chub can be as dour in the scrapping department – they generally put up about as much resistance as a wet leaf.
The poor old bream. Perhaps it’s a species in need of a bit of fishy rebranding. Whilst almost every coarse fish enjoys either a popular or cult following (even the eel is more loved amongst its diehard fans) the humble bream is just always likely to play second fiddle to more ‘glamorous’ fishes.
Despite all this, I enjoy certain types of bream fishing. I used to love launching a big groundbait feeder into a deep weir pool on the Suffolk Stour in search of its resident bream shoal. It was never prolific fishing, but come dusk the bream would switch on and two or three or four big, bronze slabs in the 5-7lbs range could usually be relied on to turn up. Playing those fish as they manoeuvred in the strong flow of the snaggy pool was exhilarating stuff, especially as the light was dropping on a summers evening.
I’ve never been especially interested in multi-rod fishing on vast still waters for seriously big bream (fish of over ten pounds in weight in my book). I’m not over keen on sitting stationary behind buzzers for long periods and I simply don’t have the time or inclination to do the session fishing thing. But bream are undoubtedly impressive fish once they reach such sizes.
Quite near my home lies a nice, mature lake located in the south Wales suburbs that is available to fish on an inexpensive day ticket. It holds a lot of bream. While they reputedly grow to over ten pounds in the lake, there are so many in the one to three pound range that anything over five or six pounds in weight is an achievement. The lake also has a small stock of genuine crucians and some elusive tench as well as a range of carp species along with roach and rudd.
I made a trip there the other day at dawn for a quick morning session in search of the slabs. The beauty of the place is that the bream come in very close to feed in the mornings and evenings, so light float fishing works well. I cursed as I arrived on what was a clear and fresh morning upon realising I’d left my camera at home. Luckily my HTC phone has a respectable camera on it and should a giant turn up I would simply have to go and wake the sole other angler on the lake who was camped out in search of carp.
I’d prepared some micro pellets mixed with hemp seed as ground bait and simply fed a small amount on each cast.
After an hour I’d tempted just one skimmer and watching the carp thrashing around with glee was more interesting than my stationary float. But as the world began to wake, so did the bream and by the time I’d packed up I’d managed a respectable number of them with one little tench, my first from the lake, and a deranged common/F1 carp of around three pounds that took a grain of corn on the drop.
The best bream was a fine male of five pounds – a lovely bronze fish that was in rude health and that thumped away doggedly under the rod tip.
I’ll no doubt get distracted by the other species over the course of the season and as soon as the rivers open that is where I will undoubtedly spend virtually all of my precious fishing time, but, for now, I’m looking forward to another trip in search of slabs.