Angling chat: Meet the Marmite of the fishing world

The common bream (Abramis Brama) has gained a strange reputation.

Columnist Steve Penticost with a nice Sussex bream
Columnist Steve Penticost with a nice Sussex bream

Ask a carp angler what he thinks, and the reply will be unprintable in a family newspaper such as this. Ask a match angler the same question and he will say “Yes please, the more the merrier”.

Our humble native bream has become the Marmite of the fish world, you either love them or loathe them. The question is why?

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One reason is that when it comes to a sporting contest the poor old bream is way down on the fighting level.

Hook a 6lb carp or barbel and it will tear around like a wild thing, trying at every point to get free or drive you into the nearest snag. Hook the same size bream and the best it can do is nod its head a bit and then wallow towards you in meek surrender.

If you hook one in a river it will make a bit more effort by turning its broad body into the flow. At least they try.

Of course, this lack of fight is perfect for the match angler who is solely concerned with maximum weight, and a large number of big bream that come in quickly is nigh on perfect. Maximum weight, minimum effort.

Surprisingly, our bream is not exactly a lightweight. The current record is a colossal 22lb 11oz.

That makes it the third largest freshwater coarse fish after carp and pike providing, we discount that interloper the Wels catfish. You would probably surmise that by now I’m not a fan, but it may surprise you that I actually don’t mind them.

Once you locate a shoal you can have a great day’s fishing and if you use lightweight gear, they actually will make a fist of it.

The reason carpers don’t like bream, apart from their ability to hover up all their expensive bait, is that when hooked they’re reeled in using a powerful carp rod and strong line. Frankly, they don’t stand a chance, so no point trying.

We’re lucky at Petworth and Bognor AC in that we have the rights to the wonderful Lower Lake in Petworth Park.

This seven-acre beauty has lots of great fish, big carp, pike and tench plus some specimen crucian. But what it does have is huge shoals of bream, and big bream at that. The good news is that it’s not that difficult to catch them.

The first thing to remember is that you will need a lot of bait. A large shoal of bream proceed across the lakebed in the same manner as a herd of cows graze a field. They only pause for long enough when food appears so baiting up an area of the lake, or as old timers sa,y ‘laying the table’ is the way to stop them.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this: a bag of sweetcorn or cooked up pigeon conditioner plus some dead maggots or chopped up worm is all you need.

You don’t even have to have a special bait. Hair rig a piece of corn or a pellet and off you go. Cast out a big feeder, tighten the line and watch the tip.

Don’t expect the 3ft twitch of a typical carp bite though, a bream bite is normally a steady pull round. Pick up the rod and reel the fish in. It’s that simple.

So, give the bream a chance, honestly, it’s trying it best. Perhaps all it needs is a few lessons from the local carp, now that would be interesting.

Steve Penticost