There is always a first time for everything (bream article, entry 98)

If you have been following my bream campaign this spring, you will be aware that I have been fishing a gravel pit in pursuit of the species. You may have picked up that I am also fishing the same peg every time too. The venue in question is a very large expanse of water, and certainly to the inexperienced angler, at first sight, would definitely prompt the question – ‘Where on earth do I start?’

But of course, although the surface may be uniform across any body of water, it is what is beneath it that really counts. Hence, after casting around with a marker float, I discovered a plateau in this particular swim and therefore decided to make that my first port of call each time. Although it is primarily a specimen carp water, it is never busy and more often than not I’ve been the only angler on there. That has been due to a combination of being able to fish midweek, plus the fact that the venue does have a reputation as a heart breaker!

Because I have been fishing the same peg every time, what I’ve done is tie a knot on my marker float line with power gum. This has meant that all I need to do when I position the float is to cast it out and wind back to the knot – it’s as simple as that. It takes a lot of hassle out of trying to position your float in exactly the right spot each time, which can sometimes not be as easy as you think – particularly if you edge on the side of being a perfectionist like I do!

Well, perhaps that’s a strong term, but I can’t rest until I know everything is in just the right spot. After all, even though I know where the plateau is, I don’t want to just cast in the general direction of it. I want to know exactly where I am placing my baits. Whether they be on top of it, to the side, the back or wherever, I need to have that assurance in my own mind that everything is just as I want it. After all, once that rod is cast out, it stays there until the morning. Unless I get a fish in the meantime of course!

Rig wise, my approach in every angling situation is to keep it simple first of all, and only if I feel that I need a different approach, do I start to experiment. And even then it’s a case of fine tuning initially, rather than wholesale changes. I have been fishing pop-up boilies on the gravel pit. Now that the weather is warming up, and the fact that the plateau is shallower (by 2 ft) compared to the water around it, there is a slight growth of weed appearing in certain places.

However it’s not that bad, and certainly not enough to deter the bream (as they are well known in their dislike of weedy swims), but nevertheless I am finding that a pop-up bait gives me the edge over a bottom fished one. I’m using a small shot to anchor the line to the bed but one thing I always do is to test the bait in the margins first. Call it a confidence thing if you will, but I like to inspect the rig and see how it lies before casting out. After all it could be there for a long time, so I need to have that peace of mind that everything is just as I want it to be.

I’m currently using 10lb line, both for the reel and the hook length. For the latter I’m using my favourite mono for that purpose – Drennan Double Strength. The rig is completed with a size 6 Drennan boilie hook, and no, I do not have any connections with the company! Usually when we think hair rigs, boilies and knotless knots, mono is not the material that comes to mind. But on this bream campaign that’s the approach I’ve been using.

The above is the theory, but now onto the practical! The weather was just how I like it for bream fishing – nice and breezy with the wind pushing in from the SW. Of course, no matter how favourable the conditions, you are never guaranteed to catch, but when it’s looking good then it does no harm whatsoever to your confidence level. And although confidence in itself will not necessarily put fish on the bank, it does I believe, help to have a positive attitude when approaching a session.

Once I had cast out, rods in the pod and landing net at the water’s edge, it was time to literally lie back and wait. As the day slowly gave way to darkness, I noticed the silhouette of an animal, as it homed in on the crumbs that had fallen to the ground as I had previously catapulted out my bait. If I say that the animal ‘scurried’ I think that gives its identity away. I don’t know about you but I literally hate rats! I tried throwing bricks at it, but it kept coming back. I even crouched down with a stick, and every time I gave up because of its non-appearance and retired back to the chair, out it would come again into the open!

Eventually I stopped worrying about the rat and dozed off to sleep. But before I did I realised that I had passed the peak 10-p.m. slot that has seen all my bream caught so far. Ah well, you win some and you lose some I considered as I fell asleep. But my peace and quiet was shattered in the early hours of the morning by a screaming run. ‘Could it be my first carp from the pit?’ I wondered as I raced to the rods. ‘At the very least it’s a tench’ I concluded, and probably a good one at that, as striking into the fish confirmed a lively lump at the end.

Well, imagine my surprise when I eventually netted a bream! It was a nice sized fish but was quite ‘hollow’, obviously having just spawned. But I couldn’t get over the fight it had put up. I mused about my comments in last week’s Angling Journal about never having had to back-wind a bream before. Well, this week I found out that there is always a first time for everything!

(Originally published May 2005)

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