Specimen Fishing for Bream – James Denison

 For a few seasons now I have dabbled in and out of my Bream fishing, very rarely putting more than a trip in each Spring. The lacklustre approach to my Bream fishing was for a few reasons however the most notable reason is the canal Carp tend to move around with more purpose and they will feature more as the temperatures increase.

13lb 7oz

This spring I vowed to myself to make more of an effort and only focus on the Bream. Once the river season ended plans were already afoot to get the gear ready, awaiting the weather to improve a little as we were still getting overnight temps of +2 to +4c at night and yes Bream will still feed in those conditions but I wanted the best conditions with my limited time to get the very most out of each outing.

The venue I chose needs no introduction as it’s Bream record over the last decade or so has grabbed the angling press’ attention many times with anglers making annual pilgrimages to fish the famous “Walthamstow Reservoirs”, a series of pits ranging from 19 acres to 74 acres. The pit I chose to stick to was the Lower Maynards which is approximately 25 acres and an average depth of 10ft so there is plenty of water to search out and catching is not a guarantee by any stretch of the imagination. I have racked up many blanks on this water over the years in search of Carp and Bream. Nevertheless the rewards are great if you can successfully pit your whits against a fish not known for being shy.

When I decided that Bream were going to be my Spring target I set myself a target of 15lbs+, a big fish for sure and back in 1980’s would have blitzed the British Record. My previous personal best came from the same water back in 2022 weighing in at 14lb 6oz and felt if I got my approach right and got some fortune to be on top of feeding fish that I would surpass that mark.

15lb 10oz PB Female

My first outing was on the 6th April where I had the whole weekend available so I’d packed everything barring the kitchen sink and got my head in the game. Given the time of year I’m always reluctant to feed hard until I get indications that fish are present ie: liners, rolling fish on the surface or better still, runs!. So to begin with I had a little lead around and what I was looking for was an area where there was soft silt and gravel present and didn’t take me too long to locate what I wanted. I like the silt as it often holds most of what the Bream are searching for and my chosen bait ( 2 mm and 6mm ) pellet would stand out on the silt as the passing Bream would be drawn to it visually and hope the attractants would do the rest.

I opted to fish a lot closer in than I normally do as we had a big weather front coming in with winds of up to 65mph predicted and I would have been fishing into the wind so that silt / gravel seam I found was around 40 yards out which would have made recasting and baiting up if things got rocking easier than the usual 70/75 yards I normally fish at on the lower. With the bait out and rods setup and fishing it was time to watch the water and get comfortable.

Sunrise on the second day of the session

The rods I opted to use were the Twin Tip Duos 12ft – 1.5TC with Shimano Ultegra 5500 reels loaded with 12lb syncho, I think its just the right balance that the Bream don’t just come in like a plastic bag, but also if I was to hook a big Carp that I would be confident of landing it without much stress. Then the waiting began, thankfully I was joined by my brother so we chewed the fat about all and sundry. Sport was pretty slow but can be expected when the water temps were as low as they were at 8.2c. Just after 6pm I finally got a drop-back and straight away I knew what the culprit was and a couple minutes later a nice Bream came up through the water column and landed expertly by my brother. It was a good start with a fish weighing 11lb 13ozs, but knew much bigger was out there somewhere!.

I hoped that fish would herald the beginning of a feeding spell as dusk settled upon us, but even with the stiffening winds the rods remained silent, not what I was expecting, was it a passing shoal and only one fancied feeding? or was it a solo Bream that happened upon my hook bait? I guess I will never know but that’s what I love about angling, the infinite amount of possibilities and total mystery that surrounds our addiction.

The predicted winds by midnight were upon us and I was really conscious of a massive London Plain tree creaking in the winds with limbs dislodging above my shelter and peppering the ground, thankfully none hit the rods and nothing too big made contact with the shelter or my brother who kipped under the stars with nothing more than a carp mat for a mattress!, he’s always been mad so I expected nothing less. Just after 1am I finally got indication number two which I couldn’t work out if it was a liner or indeed a pickup from a Bream so given the lack of action decided to give it a strike and to my delight I could feel a fish pulling back out in the gloom. The heart rate soon ramped up as it felt big and as she approached the torchlight and sliding into the net I got a sense that it was an improvement on my first fish and on the scales so it proved, 13lb 7ozs, a fish not to be sniffed at, but as I finished weighing it my other rod sounded and could see the rod tip pulling slightly to the right, I knew I was in again and this scenario isn’t uncommon given the way they feed.

My brother was in awe of the 13 as he slipped it in the retainer sling to rest up, but if he was in awe of that fish he was about to get a shock of his life, as I was! The fish I was now connected to had no intentions of coming in easily and for any Bream angler out there reading this will know their fighting capabilities aren’t what they are famed for, however this fish bucked that trend, that said, it wasn’t long before she came into view in the torch light and it was that moment I knew, I had achieved what I set out to do. I don’t have a vast amount of experience with really big Bream as its something I’ve only recently (last 3 years) been interested in, but I knew this fish was very big and my initial thoughts were that it was way over 16lbs, a fish I have dreamt of catching. As she slowly crept over the cord I could see 2x 12mm robin red pellets dangling out the side of its mouth, making them look small, I could not hide my excitement to see it in the flesh.

I peeled back the mesh to reveal a stocky slab which was is very good condition and I just knew it was a new PB and my springs target achieved on the first night!

My brace 13.7 top, 15.10 bottom.

The digitals settled on 15lb 10ozs and not far off what I thought it would go, a fish that most anglers will never get to see but this set of pits are a special place and dreams like this can be achieved. I opted to keep them safe for a few hours in the retainer and got some superb pics to remember the moment as the sun rose over east London.

The rest of the night passed by without incident and barring the photos in the morning that was the last Bream I saw, 3 doubles from 3 takes and a new PB, if anyone had told me that was going to be the end result I’d have bitten their arm off!

Part Two to follow as I embark on more visits to the famous Walthamstow Reservoirs!

Tackle used during my visit:

ESP LoPro MKII, Drennan 12ft 1.5TC Twin Tip Duos, 12lb ESP Syncho Loaded onto Shimano 5500 reels, hook links made out of 10lb Acolyte Fluorocarbon tied to new Acolyte Hair Rigger Hooks fished using a helicopter setup. The feeders were the new Heavy 90g Feeders loaded with hemp and small pellet and light brown crumb soaked in Scopex spray to boost the attraction.