A brace of personal best fish (bream article, entry 149)

I’m currently enjoying my bream campaign very much, and even though it is tiring I have no intention of quitting whilst the fish keep coming. Non-anglers have the opinion that fishing is very relaxing, and whilst that may be true in some ways, in others it’s definitely not. Spending a couple of nights out is certainly draining, and it takes the rest of the week to catch up. But don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining – far from it.

Arriving at my current venue, I again had the gravel pit to myself – the benefit of fishing mid-week. With drizzle in the air, the first thing I did when I arrived was to set up the shelter. Although I do have a bivvie, it rarely gets used, as I prefer the Fox Evolution open fronted shelter that is very quick and easy to erect. And as long as you are aware of the wind direction, and pitch it accordingly, even heavy rain is no problem at all.

I was eventually fishing at 5.45 pm, and within thirty minutes the left hand reel was letting out line as something that was obviously not a bream had picked up the bait. Striking, I found myself playing a hard fighting tench which eventually tipped the scales at 7lb 6oz. I’ve done a fair few sessions for tench in recent seasons on an estate lake in Shropshire, and whilst I’ve caught numerous fish in the 5-6lb bracket, that has been the peak weight of the venue.

Therefore, this fish was actually a new personal best. And whilst it’s always nice to catch something that you are specifically fishing for, nevertheless the pleasure wasn’t diminished in any way, shape or form. I am fortunate in that most of my pb’s have been caught when that particular fish has been targeted though, which obviously is the icing on the cake.

The next fish of the session was my chosen species, a bream that was the smallest of the campaign so far, weighing in at just 7-4-0. But the next bream, caught at 11.15 pm, went to the opposite end of the weight spectrum. On the retrieve it didn’t feel particularly big, but as soon as it broke the surface of the water I could see that I was about to net another double. It was a really big fish as the photograph indicates, but the belly was hollow, reminding me very much of a summer chub.

But even taking that into consideration, the scales registered a very positive 10-14-0, which is a new personal best for the species. Two pb’s in the space of five hours – that can’t be bad! After a few photographs, the fish was returned back to the water where it happily swam off into the depths. After three seasons of fishing bream campaigns on the gravel pit, I feel that I have finally cracked the water. And with no doubles coming at all prior to recently, I have now caught two on the trot. It is like the proverbial bus – you wait ages for one and then they all turn up at once.

I added another two bream during the rest of the night/dawn period, with both fish in the 8lb bracket (8-8-8 and 8-15-0), which is my current average for the venue. The next day was incredibly warm, with temperatures peaking at 21C – the hottest day of the year to date. With just a minimal breeze, the surface of the water was hardly rippled – not ideal bream conditions. Therefore, I used the time to get some sleep and get the binoculars out to do some birding in the vicinity of my peg.

I managed to spot a couple of shelduck, several oystercatchers, a male gadwall and a pair of common tern. The oystercatcher that I had previously seen nesting on one of the islands was no longer in residence. However, I had seen a mink swimming from the island so that is hardly a positive sign.

As the day drew to a close I once more baited up, re-cast and settled back to await some action. It was just before midnight when I landed bream number five, which was again an 8lb fish (8-9-0). With a cloudless sky, the night had a chilly tinge to it. It’s amazing how temperatures at this time of the year can fluctuate so much. But with my sleeping bag wrapped around me I was immune to what was happening outside my little cocoon world.

I was soon out of the comfort zone at 2.15 am though and playing another bream. As soon as I struck into the fish I knew that I had made contact with another biggie. So imagine my disappointment when I had a hook pull. Still, that’s fishing and rather then get totally discouraged, things like this motivate me even more. There’s always the next time and all that stuff!

The final fish of the session came right at the very end as I was about to pack away at 7.00 am. And after three seasons of fishing the gravel pit, I finally caught my first carp – a common of double figures. With the carp anglers on the pit currently struggling to get amongst the fish, I’d better keep quiet about it otherwise my peg –which is not a fashionable carp one – might get taken over by bivvies!

(Originally posted May 2006)

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