ANGLING COLUMN: Kev is king when it comes to bream catching

Kev Berry is one of the most accomplished all-round specimen anglers.

Kev Berry, angler.
Kev Berry, angler.

He’s pictured with the biggest of three double-figure bream he caught during a single session at Clumber Park.

He caught on a number of different baits ranging from red maggots, double hair-rigged sweet corn and 10mm bread flake boilies.

He used specimen carp tackle with small bobbins as indicators, fishing a free-running feeder rig with cage feeder cast 30 yards out over a bed of groundbait and sweetened spod mix.

Record Bream

Bream are one of the most prolific fish in our waters.

We’re all familiar with small bream, ‘skimmers’ but as these grow they change colour to bronze and start to develop their ‘dustbin lid’ shape. They reach maturity within 4-6 years but can live for 18 years or more.

If the water’s big enough and the food source is there, they can grow to huge proportions.

Anything over to 10lb mark would be considered a specimen. The British rod caught record was caught by Scot Crook from Ferry Lagoon in Cambridgeshire back in 2012.

It tipped the scales at an astonishing 22lb 11oz but this is one of the records, which I personally think is beatable.

Best Baits

Bream are greedy creatures and often give themselves away when feeding by ‘fizzing’; leaving streams of bubbles and clouding up the water.

Sometimes they can also be seen rolling on the surface. They naturally feed on snails and invertebrates such as blood worm but can be tempted with all manner of baits.

Maggot, worm, bread and single sweetcorn is a sure way of catching bream but to target the big specimens, you need to step things up a bit to be more selective.

Use a bait clip to bunch several maggots together or double up on the corn.

Shoals are often massive so it’s difficult to feed them off.

The art is to get enough bait into the water without spooking the whole shoal.

If you’re planning ahead, a sure way of increasing your chances is to pre-bait your chosen swim with a mix of groundbait, corn, pellets and maggots.

If you haven’t the luxury of being able to pre-bait, start your session by feeding in a dozen or so feeders full of bait and re-cast every 20 minutes until you catch. Use a scoop, spod or large feeder to get your bait to where you want it.

4-6 oz feeders will get plenty of bait out to a distance swim but use as little weight as necessary to get the right distance and hold the bottom well enough for bite indication to be accurate.

Locating shoals

If you can’t find any tell-tale signs of feeding its worth bearing in mind that bream prefer to swim around in open water so avoid targeting weedy areas. They will often patrol along the same routes, keeping these routes free of weed so fish to these barren patches and strips. Bream will also feed more confidently at distance. If you need to fish a long way out, eye your cast in with a feature on the far bank and use the line clip on your reel to get your bait to the same spot every time.

Tackle & Rigs

Bream are not known for putting up much of a fight but hook into one over the 10lb bracket and you’ll soon realise why you need heavy gear.

Of course you could accidentally hook into a big tench or carp and you want to land these safely too.

I use a Kodex Specimen Rod, which has a 1.75lb top section to a 2.25lb butt section, giving an excellent progressive action.

An ideal casting rod but with the back bone in the butt section to deal with anything you might hook into.

Medium sized specimen reels such as Shimano 8000 bait-runners, loaded with 30lb braid or 12lb mono are ideal.

Hook lengths should be coated braid around 15lb or 8lb mono.

When a shoal of bream come in to feed they will be packed tightly together so the first signs are usually line bites.

Ignore the little knocks and ‘liners’, big bream are not finicky so you should get a very positive bite.

If using a heavy feeder rod, wait for your tip to go round and simply hold in place.

Specimen bream anglers tend to use sonic bite alarms, fishing with hangers at the front in the same way as carp fishing with bait-runner set as slack as possible to keep resistance to a minimum.

Use the right rig and the bream won’t even know it’s hooked until it’s too late. A simple free-running feeder rig with a large cage or method feeder is an ideal way of getting plenty of bait out and at the same time, presenting your hook bait in a prominent position.

Bream prefer the bait to be completely static so start with a hook length of 24-30 inch for feeder fishing but if you’re missing bites, be prepared to adjust this up to as much as 4ft.

If you want to use float methods, fish well over-depth with your bait nailed to the deck.

Hook size is more relevant to the bait than the size of the fish you’re targeting. Size 10 to 14 hooks with an 8lb bottom will cover most situations.

Top Tips

Bream have a sweet tooth so use sweet groundbaits or use additives such as molasses or pineapple juice to attract them in and keep them feeding.

Add an artificial floating sweetcorn to your hook bait to pop it up just off bottom. A small piece of rig putty, pinched onto your line approx. an inch from the hook will allow the bait to pop-up properly.

Bream can spook over a light coloured groundbait so use darker green, brown or black groundbaits.

On bright sunny days target deeper water. Bream can often be seen basking near the surface but they are predominantly bottom-feeders.

If you have stories, results or pictures of your bankside exploits, email [email protected]