Where do I start with this piece, well if I am honest, I think the best place to start is by asking you to read (or hopefully re-read) Alan Stagg’s article entitled ‘Bream Dream’ last month, as this one runs alongside and follows on after Alan’s piece.
Going back a few months, I too was on the hunt for a big bream, my previous best being a relatively modest 12lb 10oz from Papercourt lake about 10 years ago. Between then and now, I hadn’t really targeted bream with them taking a back seat as I have pursued other species, but fishing alongside Alan over the last couple of months and his endless enthusiasm for hunting the biggest of whatever he was targeting at the time was rubbing off on me, and I too developed the urge to up my pb. Like Alan, on the particular lake in question, I too was really struggling to get any results, or to be more precise, I was blanking like a good’un, but that was soon to change. Initially he got the jump on me and started to catch a few nice doubles, whereas after the first few weeks in the new area (we had decided to fish the same bar at about 80 yards, just from different swims and each of us concentrating on each end of the bar (our baited areas probably about 40 yards apart), all I had managed to my name, was one small tench about 4lb.
Our methods were almost identical, both using the ever reliable 12lb Pro Light Blend main line, and a short length of 15lb Trickster Heavy with a size 8 Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip hook. I too was using a lead clip set-up, but was using the new 35lb CamFlex leadcore, as I really rate the way the suppleness follows the contours of the lake bed. The main differences were though, that I was using a stack of three grains of Enterprise artificial corn, compared to Alan’s two grains, and that whereas he was using a mix of pellets, corn and crushed boilies, I was using a mix of pellets, corn and mixed particles.
After three weekends of my bobbins collecting cobwebs and Alan’s collecting bream, I knew I needed to have a good head scratch and rethink my approach. On my next visit, I cut down from 3 grains of fake corn to two, and cut out all the mixed particles, sticking with just pellets and a sprinkling of corn, all as per normal nicely glugged with a healthy dolloping of Carp Company Krill Extract. On my first night out using the new improved methods, I finally managed to catch a couple of bream. The first being a ‘scraper’ double of 10lb 8oz, followed about an hour later with one of 12lb 2oz, which although not the real monsters I was after, I was still very pleased to see the changes had worked in my favour. This is where fishing with someone with the same goals and mindsets can be a real advantage, as you are able to bounce ideas off each other and work out what works best far quicker and easier than you could of you were just fishing by yourself.
The night then passed very quietly, with no more action. Around mid-morning the following day, I hooked one of the large carp that reside in this pit, and after about 30 seconds of it doing it’s best impression of a steam train, it got bored of being attached to me and decided to shed the hook in a weed bed. Although it wasn’t the target species, I was gutted as I know the carp here run close to 50lb, but I keep telling myself it was just an angry 20lber. That then was all the action I had, with not a single bleep to my rods coming that night, despite having fish rolling and slicking up over my spot all night. This was something we found as we progressed with our campaign, more often than not, we would catch well on the first night, but then the bream would be very cagey the following night.
Returning the following weekend, I was pleased to see that once again there was no one fishing in our area, and quickly unloaded the gear into the swim. As bite time didn’t normally occur until the sun was just starting to skim the trees, I just sat and watched the water for an hour or so, seeing if there were any signs of fish moving. Even though I didn’t see any bream about, I was still happy in the knowledge I would be in the right area, as they were obviously visiting this area more and more, to the point that on climbing the trees and looking out, the top of the bar was so polished clean, it looked like the Yellow Brick Road from the Wizard of Oz shining up through the water. I mixed up my normal mix of about 5kg of 4mm pellets, along with a can of corn, and a good helping of krill extract, and to this I decided to follow Alan’s example of adding a good liberal portion of crushed CC Moore XXX boilies, as they had certainly done the trick for him. Although I will normally refer to my trusty notebook to check how many wraps I need and what to aim for on the far bank, I still had everything clipped up from the previous week so baiting up was a doddle, with the whole yummy concoction spodded out as accurately as possible out to the top of the bar. I used to be a fan of baiting two or three areas, and having a rod on each to try and find where the fish were moving and feeding, but with all our action coming from the top of this bar, I was now fishing all three rods as close as possible on the spot. Getting all three out in an area about 10 foot across at 80 yards in a cross wind isn’t the easiest thing, but after a few attempts I was finally happy with them, as I’d rather spend a while getting them spot on, than have them not quite right, as either side of my clear area, the weed was starting to grow up, and we all know how much bream dislike feeding in weed.
With them in place, I sat back and prepared some dinner for myself, and after demolishing a rather fine curry, as the light started fading I started seeing the odd little slick appear over my baits as the first of the fish started investigating. About an hour later, the bobbin on my left rod started bouncing up and down before falling to the deck in a classic bream take. I lifted the rod and felt the tell-tale nodding of a fish on the other end, and after a typically uneventful fight, I was soon sliding the net under my first bream of the weekend. Up on the scales, she went a very pleasing 12lb 12oz. Only 2oz, but she was still a new pb so I was well chuffed. After the obligatory pics, I slipped her back and got the rod back out. About an hour later, my right hand rod had an identical bite, this time yielding my second pb of the night, this time a smidge bigger at 13lb on the nose, again this new pb wasn’t to last long, as a just after first light, I was once again able to lift a new pb onto the scales, upping it even further to 13lb 12oz. Although I was expecting more fish, strangely I didn’t have any more takes that night, nor once again the following night, though to be honest after three new pb’s, I wasn’t really complaining.
After a week that seemed to take an eternity, Friday finally arrived and after the usual round of bumpercars on the motorways, I eventually got to the lake. As I looked across the water, I was dismayed to see both of the swims facing the bars taken, gutted wasn’t the word, but I went round anyway to have a chat and see if I could see anything moving in the neighbouring areas. One chap was just setting up to fish for carp for the night, and I could see from the angle of his lines, he was obviously (and strangely) ignoring the bar and fishing holes in the weed. The chap in the swim next door though was only there fishing for the day, and was planning to pack up in a couple of hours. Although this meant I would be able to get back in the bars, it meant I would have to be baiting up almost on bite time, not ideal but the only other option was fish somewhere where the bream probably wouldn’t be, so I politely asked if it was ok to follow in behind him which he said was no problem. After a couple of hours of whiling away the time chatting to him and me politely making him cups of tea (he had forgotten his stove), he finally packed away and wished me luck. I quickly set to and stuck out my usual 5kg of mixed 4mm pellets, corn and crushed CC Moore XXX boilies, and managed to get all the rods out just as dusk was falling. Happy that everything was set, I did my usual with a curry, and sat back to await results. Surprisingly, considering the disturbance I had made baiting up, I had action very quickly, with three bream coming in very quick succession, these weighing in at 10lb 8oz, 12lb 8oz, 12lb 12oz respectively. I was a little concerned that the fish might follow the normal pattern of two or three fish, then nothing else, but thankfully that wasn’t to be.
About an hour or so after those three, I had another slow steady take, resulting in another nice bream sliding over the waiting net. This one looked a touch bigger, and the scales confirmed this with the needle going round to 13lb 6oz. A few pics later I was slipping her back, when whilst I was up to my elbows in water, my middle rod received a fairly rapid and unbream like take, upon lifting the rod, I was fairly convinced I was attached to either a small carp or a large tench, the fish fighting hard and staying very deep in the water, so I was rather surprised when it eventually appeared in the beam of the head torch and it was another large bream. Once more he (this one was obviously a male judging by the amount of tubercules on its head) looked larger than the last, so I was again grinning like a loon when the needle swung round to register 14lb 2oz. My fourth pb bream in 3 nights, I was over the moon and quite frankly would have been quite happy if I had had no more action that weekend. Little was I to know what was lurking a couple of hours away.
At around 2am, I was woken by a typical bream bite again, and upon lifting the rod, initially I thought I must have somehow missed the fish and got caught up in some weed, as it just felt like a heavy weight on the end. I would like to say it was the most exhilarating fight I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t, the fish just sort of plodded about like most of the others, although it certainly felt like a much larger weight. When she first slid into the net, I thought it was another one about 12lb, but when I went to lift her out, it became apparent that this was much heavier than the others, even before she went on the scales, I could tell I had absolutely smashed my pb of about 2 hours earlier, but even I wasn’t expecting the needle to go round that far. 17lb 10oz! I was totally gobsmacked, I had hoped to get up to around the 15lb mark on this campaign, but to get a fish of that size was just madness. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night and was totally shattered the following day, but didn’t care one bit. Sadly I lost another big carp during the day time (something I plan to return for and have a proper go at in the future), but as per normal the following night was totally fishless. That brought an end to my bream campaign, as I was off to France the following weekend, so it was perfect timing to end with such a stunning fish. Needless to say I will be returning, and fingers crossed they will have grown even bigger by then.