Alan Brown just can’t wait to get at the black bream that are visiting his local beaches.
Every year, here in West Sussex we are lucky that we get some very good bream fishing from the shore. It normally kicks off with a run of big females in late March, early April, with 3lb fish commonplace. Then in early May we get the main influx of females and males.
Sadly, this year we never saw the first run of big fish, and I can only think that the weather played a big part as we were still getting big seas and coloured water around the time that they usually arrive.
However, the second run of smaller fish showed up right on time, and reports soon spread that they were here, with fish over 2lb reported and loads of 1lb fish also showing along the coast, from Pagham through to Selsey.
There were already a good few anglers in residence when Alan arrived.
I soon became frustrated with the situation, as every time the weather and tide were right I had other commitments, so I just had to hear about what others were catching while wishing I was in there getting among them!
But finally my time came. With a high tide right on sunset, and little to no wind from the southwest, prospects looked promising so off I set.
Bream fishing is not expensive to do, as all you really need is a box or pack of squid, along with a few peelers.
Peelers, I hear you say?
Yes, those bigger bream love them and it’s also a bait that can keep the smaller bream away.
Rigs are simple two or three-hook flappers armed with small hooks. My rigs of choice have 10lb fluorocarbon hook links no more than six inches long.
To my mind pop-up beads are a must, as they give your baits loads of movement to entice a take. Some anglers I know go for a big single pop-ups, but I prefer a string of two or three smaller ones to match my hook-bait size so that it doesn’t look too out of place.
This year I went for something a bit different on the hook front. I’d hunted high and low for a light, small, strong and razor sharp hook, but it was Pete at Solent Tackle that soon found me the perfect pattern – Sabpolo Wormers. Very impressive, I have to say. The weight of the hook wasn’t enough to pull the pop-ups down and they look a good strong pattern.
My baits were small triangular strips of squid on the top hooks of no more than three centimetres long with small bits of crab on the bottom hooks.
Cutting the squid into triangles, or ‘carrots’ and hooking them through the wide end is the way to go. When the bream nibble at the squid they don’t get too much, so they have to keep coming back for that fatal last bite.
Again I wanted to try something different, so I had soaked my squid in squid and cuttlefish ink prior to fishing! I thought I would put that one out there as it works for whole squid baits for rays and cod.
Anyway, I got to Selsey east beach to find a few anglers already down there – I guess they had same idea as me. Luckily one of my favourite spots was still free so I muscled in and tackled up.
I started fishing around three hours before high water, and it was slow to say the least for the first two hours, then out of the blue all hell broke loose, with my rods being bounced and pulled all over the place. I had a job to keep up with the action.
A shoal of bream must have set up camp right in front of me as the guys to my left and right could only look on as I was pulling fish after fish out. A question crossed my mind… “Was it the squid and cuttle ink doing the damage?”
After 30 minutes of frantic action the sport stopped as quickly as it had started, but I didn’t have to wait long before they turned back from wherever they had been and paid me another visit.
However, as it was starting to get darker the fishing slowed down, which is what you would tend to expect from bream as they mainly feed on sight.
After around three hours of at times absolutely manic fishing, with double and treble shots thrown in, the bream totally went off the feed.
With most fish being well over 1lb I was more than happy with my first bream session of the year and I was happy to see some of the other anglers catching a few fish as well.
It’s also good to see these hard-fighting fish as it is often the first sign that the summer species have truly arrived… and normally right behind them are the big hounds!
There’s always something to look forward to!
ALAN’S TOP TIPS FOR BREAM
Use small, wide-gape hooks and light hook links.
Don’t use massive baits, a small sliver of squid or small piece of crab is all you need. Bream don’t have big mouths so if you are using big baits, you will miss more than you hook.
Pop-ups are important as they do induce movement in your baits.
Don’t bully them when you’re reeling in as they make fast dashes, and this is when you can have hook-pulls.
Bream are shoal fish so don’t reel in as soon as you have a bite, as you could miss a chance of having more fish.
When they hungry sport can be fast and furious –make sure you have plenty of bait at the ready and spare rigs so as not to waste time when they’re in front of you.
Keep an eye on the guys around youand watch where they fishing – this may give you clue what line the bream are running along and may get you fish you might have missed.