17lb Bream Makes Perfect Birthday Present

Mark Simmonds has celebrated his 40th birthday in style with the capture of a magnificent 17lb 1oz bream! 



Here’s his in-depth account of an amazing capture that has also won him a well-deserved Drennan Cup prize in this week’s Angling Times:

I have been fishing a big Cambridgeshire lake for the bream for the last two and a half months and, until the weekend, had nothing to show for it. I never spotted any bream rolling anywhere on the lake, no runs, no clues.

I therefore decided to follow the wind on a quick overnighter. I had my own 40th birthday party to attend the following night so I wasn’t expecting much to happen, especially due to the non-stop high pressure we seem to be having.

I spodded out a large bed of wheat, groats, maple peas, maize, tares, pellets, sweetcorn and two types of home-made boilies onto an even lake bed depth of around 8 feet in between shallower bars at 80 metres. I then set my trap of two home-made 11mm coconut boilies with matching stick mix in a narrow PVA stocking on one rod, two 11mm home-made fishmeal boilies tipped with a Top Baits 10mm condensed milk and aniseed pop up on my middle rod and a stack of corn on the right hand rod.

The night passed without incident and I woke at 6am to find thick fog covering the lake. Unable to see my baited area I decided to get another hour or so of sleep in preparation for the big night ahead of me. 30 minutes later and I was awoken by a massive drop back on the middle rod. I have been encountering many strange happenings on this lake over the last couple of months so I was expecting more of the same when I got to my rod. I tightened the clutch and lifted the rod and was amazed that it was an actual fish on the end this time; the characteristic nod, nod telling me it was a bream!

The fight was unspectacular but my friend netted it for me first go after a scare involving some bankside reeds. My previous PB was 14lb 2oz from last season. I was after a 15lb fish as my season’s target so when I lifted it onto the unhooking mat and felt the weight of the fish I was pretty sure I had easily reached my target. Once on the mat it was clear it was a very big fish and when my friend read off 17lb 1oz to me I nearly fell over with shock and had to check myself! It was a proper dustbin-lid shaped fish, almost as tall as it was long and 5 inches across the back. It was rested in the margins while I prepared the camera equipment and a few pictures fired off before I donned the chest waders to see him back into the lake. An immense fish!

Mark followed it up with this 11lb 12oz ‘baby’.

I re-baited with the same home-made boilies and stick mix and cast it straight back out to the spot. A couple of hours later, on the same rod, I had another take, much more aggressive on the take and the hook bumped out half way to the bank. It felt like a smaller fish so I wasn’t too saddened by the loss. An hour later the same rod was away again and I found myself attached to another bream, this time a smaller fish of 11lb 12oz, which gave quite a good account of itself. By this stage I had switched my left hand rod over to this bait combination also. I continued to get liners but had to leave to sort my birthday party out, which was gutting in a way, all that time trying to locate them finally paying off.

My set up comprised 2lb TC Drennan distance bream and tench rods, Daiwa Emcast reels loaded with 25lb braid, a fluorocarbon leader, 2.25oz leads and 10lb supple coated braid to a size 10 hook. My landing net pole as always, the trusy Drennan Super Specialist Twist Lock!