Bream Fishing: Tackle and Fishing Methods
are among the gamest fish I have encountered, but they are small fish, and the worst possible crime in my opinion is to fish too heavy for them. At Littlehampton, old-timers still go out with heavy boat rods, big leads, and tackle, and haul up three at a time, for they are not difficult to deceive at the beginning of the season. But tides at Littlehampton are comparatively slack, and sometimes as little as a 7 g (1/4 oz) of lead is sufficient to get the bait down to the feeding fish. With fine line, even the fastest tides require no more than 75 g (3 oz) at the outside.
When fishing forin deeper water, in tides that are a good deal more fierce than those encountered off the Sussex coast, it may not always be possible to use light tackle. But the fish pull just as hard as their black cousins.
The best rod to use is a lightrod. I would have said fly rod except that bream are faster and tougher than trout and a smash would be quite likely. A free-running drum reel of the centre-pin type is the next item — preferably a coarse fisherman’s reel. Line of 2 kg (41b) b.s. Is just right under neap tide conditions. A light bomb weight is mounted well up-trace, stopped by a small . The length of the trace should be as long as you can comfortably manage, and should end in a small, long-shanked hook.
Bait could be MACKEREL or herring strip (cut very fine), lug-worm or mussel, or a combination of any of these.
The trace is lowered into the water and the weight sinks until you feel it just tip bottom. You should choose your weight so that when you lift the rod point and give a little slack it is light enough to trundle down with the tide, but not light enough to be swept away quickly. If you search the bottom some distance away from the boat and find that there are no fish there, a very gentle retrieve can be made in order to find any fish that may be swimming higher up in the water.
On this tackle red andfight magnificently. Their style of play is unique. You hit the fish and think you have him well under control, if sullenly resisting, as he is drawn to the top. But then, without warning, he will crash-dive, quite irresistibly, and unless you are expecting this there will be an almost certain break, sometimes of the trace, sometimes of the rod point. And the fish will do this four or five times on the way up. A landing net is absolutely essential in this game, by the way. And make sure your boatman knows how to use one.
Judging from personal observation and from reports in the angling press, any black bream over 2 kg (4 lb) must be considered an exceptional fish. A big fish is most likely to be caught at the beginning of the season when the bream arrive on the reef and are full of spawn.
Red bream, on the other hand, regularly reach weights of 3 or 3.5 kg (6 or 7 lb).
Incidentally, a word of warning. If you happen to be fishing in Ireland or in west Wales and you are told that ‘bream’ are plentiful at such and such a mark, do not be too hopeful. Bream as I have mentioned is a name that is given quite widely in these parts to the wrasse — the real bream being sometimes known as carp, just to complicate matters.