Fresh leaves and amorous ducks are a sure fire sign spring is here again and, the concentration turns towards the humble bream, especially the big old bronze beauties that live in our many gravel pits throughout the land. To some, especially carp anglers, they are no more than a slimy nuisance that pick up strategically placed boilies at 3am in the morning, however, to others they are a worthy adversary and quite a cunning fish to hook.
My initial approach to fishing for them is to find out where on the pit the shoal tend to spend the daytime hours. They can be creatures of habit and lay up in the same part of the lake for days and weeks at a time and only move off in search of food when the sun goes down. If a boat is available it is a simple task of scouring the lake and looking for them, once found a baiting strategy can be introduced to stop them as they leave the area to feed.
If no boat is available watch for any signs of rolling fish in the evenings and try and find any large areas of open water where the fish could well be. It is a fact that a shoal of bream are not fussed on areas with weed and would much rather shoal up over a clear bottom.
Once a likely area has been found it is a matter of putting an amount of bait in that will stop them in their tracks. Bream will patrol a lake at night and could very well visit the whole of it throughout the hours of darkness. This is why it is quite important to find the fish and bait up a spot close to the holding area, although not essential.
For me the baiting is quite important and it is nothing to put twenty kilo in the lake for one night when they are feeding well. This sounds quite a lot but, when you think of a shoal consisting of twenty big bream coming over your bait and getting their heads down, it can all be gone in a very short space of time, before they move off to pastures new. On an average night I will mix up a six-to-eight kilo sloppy mix, made up of Vitalin original, Dynamite baits Silver X Bream groundbait, three tins of Scopex corn, one tub of Hemp and a pint of Casters. once this has been introduced I will spread about a kilo (or two) of 3mm Marine Halibut Pellets over the top. When introducing the bait I will make sure it is spread about quite a bit so that the fish have to spend that much longer foraging for the food.
The hook baits I like to use are Drennan yellow and red Artificial Buoyant maggots soaked in Hinders Betalin and, Artificial Buoyant corn in yellow, pink and white, also soaked in the Betalin. I like to critically balance the baits with a tiny piece of tungsten putty so they sink very slowly and, to finish off the bait nicely I attach a PVA Mesh stocking of 3mm pellets before casting out. On one pit fished I soon found out that a single hookbait over bait wasn’t picked up half as much as the one with the bag of pellets attached.
My tackle is quite straight forward, comprising of Drennan Distance Specialist Tench & Bream 12ft 2lb rods, Shimano 6000 Baitrunner reels loaded with 10lb or 12lb Suffix Synergy carp mono. My hooklink material is ESP 15lb Two Tone braid in silt or camo colour, depending on the bottom you are fishing over. The leads are generally Korda 2oz or 3oz depending on the distance fished and these are attached to a lead clip leadcore leader. My preferred hooks are Drennan Specimen Plus in either a size 8 or 10, as well as (on occasion) ESP Stiff Rigger hooks in size 8. To some this end tackle can seem fairly heavy however, it is wise to consider most gravel pits containing large bream have a head of very large carp and, on hooking one you want a chance of landing it and not getting smashed up!
Last but not least is the retention of big bream for photographs in daylight. This can be a problem at times because they do not fair very well in conventional carp sacks and can keel over and die in them. For me the best way is to peg out a large keepnet in the margins before your session. In recent times I have used the Drennan 3 metre Camo variety and find it very good for the purpose. Normally I would only put one or two bream in the net if very large and would often return a smaller fish to the lake if a larger one was caught.
Terry ‘Theo’ Theobald
NOTE:- Theo has a new book out soon, titled “A Year On The Water” – look out for it!