For anyone follows our Australian friends at TT Lures and their excellent videos you would have seen that Bream fishing plays a big part of the inshore lure fishing scene. I have always been envious of the shallow water estuary based sport and the fact that their particular sub-species of Bream are very keen to take plastics of all kinds, they even have tournaments as its so big over there. Here in the UK we also have Bream (proper ones, not the slimy freshwater slabs ;)) ) with the most prolific being the Black Bream (Spondyliosoma cantharus). These colourful, hard fighting fish not only have a fascinating life story but are a mainstay of mine and many others sea fishing during the months of May/June and will be caught right through the summer when they spread out from the breeding grounds into less sheltered coastline to feed before crossing the English channel for winter.
In my part of the world on the south coast we can target these fish in relatively shallow water up to 40ft and this is why the idea of catching them on lures with consistency has niggled away. We had the depth to be able to fish light but despite catching them sporadically on a variety of lures we couldn’t lock it down and with the benefit of hindsight it becomes obvious why. Firstly we would target these fish over some pretty rough ground made up of broken reef and this meant tackle loss was high especially when drifting. Secondly when the weather and available time coincide it was always too easy to revert to bait, yes we would get creative with Japanese Tenya rods and floating beads etc so things were moving in the right direction but not quite where we wanted to be, now though after 7 years or so I think we have cracked it, at last!
My good friend Adam Kirby and I have consistently caught on a fairly basic method (I’ll come to that later) this season and on a recent trip I reinforced the method by out-fishing bait easily. I would leave a bait rod out with a Squid bait on pop-up beads and then have a cast around with lures and would regular get hits on the lures while my bait set up remained largely un-touched and whilst I will concede that this isn’t the most scientific of experiments it proved one thing conclusively, its not just what you use whether its bait or lures but where you use it. A friend of mine was fishing 200 metres away with bait and caught plenty of Bream but the bottom was different, he was on rougher ground whilst I was sitting on the edge where the reef meets the sand and its worth remembering that this applies to all species. Why will Wrasse take metals over sand? Why will Perch take TRD’s on some waters but not others? Chances are every lure in your box will catch your intended quarry provided you use it in the right place.
Anyway, back to the Bream. I have been using two rods both being 7’ Nories (sorry Martin, I will try out the St Croix I promise). The lighter rod is up to 11g and the heavier is 18g. The lighter rod has been my mainstay and its coupled with a 2500 Stella and 0.4PE braid, the business end consists of a 4lb FC leader and finally the Caro rig. I use free running pear shaped weights and a size 2 or 4 Aberdeen style Gamakatsu worm style fine wire hooks and the beauty is in the simplicity. As the rig wanders around a slow rise and fall helps the lure separate from the weight and then flutter down and bear in mind this is fished almost vertically so it works slightly different than that same rig would act if casting from the beach where I would probably add a stop in the form of a swivel or power-gum. The lures have been varied with one thing in common and that’s colour. Pearl, white and clear have had the best results for me and pattern wise I’ve used paddle tails (ZMan Slim SwimZ) Straight tails (Finesse ShadZ) as well as mini creature baits. What I like is lure that is thin in profile and not too stiff, Bream are pickers and and cannot inhale like a Bass would so the hook has to be slightly oversized to allow it to be exposed enough. Whilst white variants have given solid results I am still keen to experiment with bright Blues to replicate the startling colour these fish have around the eyes, this is to trigger an attack response rather than a feeding one as the male fish in particular are very likely to want to remove any unwanted attention away from their nest sites, plenty to think about………
To sum up my fascination of the Black Bream its about how hard they pull back, the stunning colours and they are on my doorstep. I do get excited by catching different species on lures and this is another piece of the puzzle that will hopefully result in making lure fishing an all round pursuit and not just limited to Bass, Wrasse and Pollack. So, what’s next? This is a question that we often ask ourselves. Plaice are very much a fish we would like to get into properly and again we’ve had them on lures before but not really got a definitive method and the same goes for Turbot and Brill. To be blunt if it swims in the sea then I’m happy to throw some plastic at it, so many species so little time!!
So, what else is happening? Bream by-catch has been keeping me busy with the predictable Ballan Wrasse and Pouting taking plastics freely, no real groundbreaking angling there but it keeps me occupied. The Wrasse fishing will start in earnest mid June with some 7-8lb fish on the menu and some new spots to try from the boat. and the new combo of the ZMan TRD CrawZ/ TTNedlockZ will be making a dent in the resident Ballan population very, very soon. Of course Bass fishing will occupy my mind and that elusive double figure fish that I have done very well to avoid in 40 odd years with my go to and often copied Zman MagswimZ hopefully doing some damage here in the deeper water.
In the freshwater we have to doth our cap to our very own Paul Parnell on his Perchmania win not so long ago. Along with his boat partner Ian Crook he took a strong field apart to top the results board and of course he was keeping it Zman all the way. I only landed one decent 40cm plus Perch over the two days but some lovely Zander and a bundle of wasps (no surprise there I hear you say) made for a very pleasant weekend in good company but I would have preferred the trophy and will try again in August during the WPC event at Grafham. I would historically leave the Perch well alone during the summer months but last years endless trips to Rutland and the superb Perch fishing we experienced has wetted my appetite hugely. Now if I can only workout a way to get to the reservoirs in less than 4 hours I will be able to put more hours into tormenting the big water Perch more often.
Finally, its a wonderful achievement and testament to the faith everyone here at Lure Lounge has had in Zman since it first landed on our doormats several years ago. To go from just another lure brand to being the behemoth it has become is down to everyone that has used them on the bank or boat over the past few years, we always appreciate your feedback and catch pictures and the more interest we have the more likely we are to end up with tailored Zman lures to suit our UK based fishing.
I will hopefully update more often through the summer on my fishing now I have a new boat and harness all the enthusiasm that comes with sinking endless £££ into it!
Get your string pulled! Dan Sissons.