A goose chase (bream, entry 464)

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There are a number of species that are core as far as targeting them is concerned. For example, barbel, perch and pike are all going to feature at some point on a regular basis throughout my angling year. So much so that although I haven’t a clue what 2013 will bring, I can say with absolute confidence, that if I’m still fishing and barring any major intervention in my life such as death! – then those fish will have articles devoted to them.

Then there are other species, that whilst their name isn’t the first on the team sheet, I always find myself returning to them again and again. And one that fits that bill is the bream. Not the small silvery version that is affectionately known as the skimmer, but moved on a few years as it starts to take on a deep bronze colour and develop its mature shape. I love big bream!

And to pursue them I headed for a venue where I have previously fished for other species but not bream. As you can see (photo 1) it’s a big place and that’s why I wanted to give it a go for Abramis brama. I suppose it’s being an all-rounder but whenever I look at a huge carp-venue I always think to myself, I wonder if there are any bream in there? And often there’s only one way of finding out and that’s by giving it a go.

In fact quite a few of my gems have been unearthed based on the fact I did just that. Of course there have been lots of ‘duds’ along the way but when it does come together it’s great. And yes, you do need the time to do it. I appreciate that if your angling time is limited you can’t ‘waste’ it on a possible wild-goose chase. But with a few days to play with I embarked on a mission. But would it be wild or otherwise?

The most important thing with big bream, and certainly where they may not be there in numbers, is to try and locate their regular routes. Knowing the venue quite well from my times on there for other species, I knew that there isn’t that much in the way of underwater features for the simple reason that it is an old sand excavation workings as opposed to gravel.

So whereas the latter often produces bars and plateaus, the sand is removed more easily and won’t stand proud in the same way that a body of gravel will. Hence a spit protruding out into the water that I had noticed when walking the bank had me focusing on that as some sort of bream attracting feature.

When going for bream I nearly always use groundbait. Usually I’m fishing at distance so it enables bait to be catapulted beyond hand throwing limits. Once you do get bream in the swim you want to keep them for as long as you can and what better way to preoccupy them than lots and lots of tiny groundbait particles. And as you can see (photo 2) my mix also had a colour to it as well. In the clear water I wanted to provide a visual attraction for any bream that would be in the area.

The groundbait is Sweet fruit from SBS and is one of the most attractive flavours I’ve ever come across. I asked a couple of my family members to describe it and I had bubblegum and strawberry milkshake. Either way, would the bream like it? I added grains of sweetcorn which had been flavoured with SBS Whisky link, mixed it all in and baited up an area just off the spit.

You can see my rig (photos 3,4) both in the margins demonstrating how it sat in the water and also the bait itself in relation to standard grains of corn. The bait is giant corn shaped boilie, which is of course from SBS, and I fished two off a size 4 Drennan boilie hook. You may recall in a recent tench article how I had issues with mono and a certain hook, well as I really like to fish mono for bream I chose the Drennan boilie pattern. I have been using it for years and it has never let me down. The line was 12lb Drennan Double Strength and the hook length was about 12″ (30cm). I fished a 2.5ounce lead which with a power gum stop knot and two beads created a safe bolt rig.

So, cast out I had done my bit. Would the bream, assuming they were there of course, oblige. My first fish (photo 5), although a bream at first glance, had the tinge of a roach to it. It wasn’t as obvious as most hybrids but enough for me to be happy with a fish under my belt but still seeking the first of my target species. Well, fishing through the night saw nothing else at all. But come morning a typical bream take with the hanger almost being forced to move an inch or two saw me land the best fish of the session (photo 6).

I was very happy to catch that fish. It’s always great when it comes together. And above all it gave me the incentive and encouragement to go on. Not that I needed it, as I had already committed myself to the session. But it was a boost nevertheless as I’m sure you can appreciate.

The daytime was very quiet as you would expect when targeting big bream. Although I have caught them in bright sunshine, mostly it’s dusk, dawn and the period in between. So, after something to eat and drink about lunchtime I pulled the rods in and went for a walk around the venue. Armed with my camera I captured a few nature shots. Often butterflies are quite skittish but this small tortoiseshell (photo 7) was quite obliging as I got close to it. Not obliging enough to spread its wings for me but you can’t have it all ways can you. At least I managed to get a decent enough photograph before it flew away.

And while I’m on the nature theme I came across a lovely colony of bluebells (photo 8) in a small wood that extended right down to the water’s edge. I thought I must fish there at some point if only for the aesthetics of it all. Set up in native woodland and bluebells all around – but not on top of them, they were slightly back – is what you call a good pitch as far as I’m concerned. If that were a camping site people would pay good money to set up in that sort of environment. As anglers we get to enjoy it for next to nothing. A great way of looking at it eh!

Coming out of the wood I came across another colony of wildflowers, this time dandelions (photo 9). Much hated by gardeners, they’re my favourite flowers. Yes, flowers. Not weeds. No such thing as a weed in my book! By the time I got back to my bivvie I had spotted a number of flower species but have just highlighted a couple of common ones for the article. But how did my final night go in pursuit of bream? Prior to the potential feeding time I watched and listened (on my bat listening device) to several daubenton’s bats. If you’re an angler you will no doubt have seen these as they often feed quite low skimming the surface of the water. They’re also known as ‘water bats’.

But while the bats had their fill of insects, it appeared the bream weren’t interested. Well not until the beginnings of first light anyway. Typical bream register on the hanger and another fish (photo 10) concludes my session. So rather than a wild-goose chase we can drop the prefix! I really enjoyed it but I don’t know if I will be back after them. In the meantime I’ve got a number of sea articles to go and then the rivers will be open. Plus I’ve got some tench to engage with. And don’t forget perch and somewhere with some big roach residing I want to return to. Oh and there’s some canal carp out there with my name on them. I’m worn out at the thought of it all! But nicely so!

Check out the June video here and this is the link to my angling website And if you like the article, why not share it via the buttons below? Thanks if you do. And I’ll see you next week when I’m bass fishing from the coast of Anglesey at Rhosneigr. If you’re on facebook then make sure you like my page. I post all my updates so it’s a great way to keep in touch with my weekly angling entries as I also publish the links on there. (article published June 2 2012)

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