NINE WAS MY LUCKY BREAM NUMBER...
All doubles, to a 10lb 13oz best
TWENTY two years ago John Wilson made his greatest-ever catch – nine double-figure bream while floatfishing from a small boat.
The action was caught on camera and became one of the Go Fishing star’s most popular and talked-about films ever.
Angling Times spoke to the man himself and he gave an exclusive and unique account of that memorable day on the ‘forgotten lake’ that was topped by a personal-best 10lb 13oz bream.
“That amazing morning felt like I was in the perfect fishing dream.
I remember peering through squinted eyes into thick fog to see the black backs of the biggest bream I’d ever seen breaking the surface inches from my marker float. My grip began to tighten on the oars as I just knew that I was in for something very special.
The ‘forgotten lake’ in Norfolk was my chosen venue to film a pike fishing episode of Go Fishing, but after spotting some truly massive bream during the winter of 1993 I just couldn’t stop thinking about them.
I made a pact with myself that I’d return the next year and if we got the pike footage in the can early (which we did) I would already have my swim baited up and the bream would be there in the deep water waiting for me.
On the morning of that very special September day I was on the water by 5am and I’d arranged for the four-man team, who were armed with two cameras, to meet me on the lake at around 6.30am. My marker was in place, made from an old Coke bottle and held in place just on the outside of my prebaited area with a weight and a length of heavy line.
In order not to spook the fish, I anchored up 20 yards away from the marker. Two rods had already been completely made up, so I could make that very important first cast as quickly as possible.
Chopped worms had been one of the offerings I’d added to my prebaiting mix, so my size 8 hooks were nicked through the ends of two big lobworm tails, which soon found their way to the bottom.
Those hookbaits, that have caught me more big bream over the years than I care to remember, were sitting at dead depth where they would release their attractive juices over the remains of the bed of groundbait, stewed wheat, casters and maggots that I’d tipped over the side of the boat on two consecutive evenings prior to my session.
That was it – the trap was set and almost a year of planning would culminate in this morning’s fishing.
Only been a few minutes after casting my first slider rig out, the bright orange float tip vanished and I was in. The rod hooped over and that tell-tale nod of a big bream came pulsing down the 4lb reel line and into the handle of the rod, confirming that my earlier hopes of a red letter day were to be realised.
Now, many anglers say that bream don’t fight, but many of the biggest slabs caught these days are landed on carp rods and big reels filled with heavy line.
On lighter, perfectly-balanced gear this species can fight with the best of them, and this thing went off like a train.
I’ve caught fish from all corners of the globe, but the sight of that first huge fish weighing over 11lb sliding into my net was one of the most memorable moments in my fishing career.
It was at that point where I thought I was going to wake up to find this had all been a dream.
By the time I’d sensed the presence of another boat on the water and heard the calls of ‘where are you John?’ from the crew who were struggling to find me in the fog, I’d already landed three doubles.
As four figures loomed into view I struck into the biggest fish of the session and the cameras were now rolling… magic!
The guys were delighted and somewhat relieved to have some great early action shots in the bag. It justified their early start, as you have to remember that it had only just gone 6.40am, despite my already having caught four bream for almost 50lb.
The area I was fishing was around 13ft deep, so it was impossible to tackle it with conventional waggler tactics, but I wanted to catch these fish on the float.
The slider was the only answer. In this day and age, when faced with this kind of swim, many anglers would get the feeder rod out and sit there watching the tip or listening out for a bite alarm.
But believe me, there’s no more effective way of catching big bream than with a slider, it’s that sensitive.
My 4lb mainline was tied straight through to the hook, and 6ins above that I pinched on a BB shot.
The bulk of three swan shot was positioned 12ins above this. That might seem heavy, but you need sufficient weight down the line for the rig to work effectively.
On the cast the float sits on top of the bulk shot and then, as soon as this hits the water, the weight pulls the mainline through the eye at the base of the float until it rests against a small bead and a sliding stop knot set at the fishing depth. It’s as simple as that. Even the disturbance caused by the other boat didn’t affect the quality of the fishing – in fact I had to reel in one rod as there were just too many bream in the swim.
As the morning progressed I kept a steady stream of broken worms going into the swim – the last thing I wanted to do was pile a load of feed on top of their heads.
By 10.30 am the fog had begun to lift, and as the guys got their final few shots I had a quick tot-up in my head.
I’d landed nine double-figure fish, including my biggest-ever bream weighing 13 lb 10oz.
I also had a handful of fish to 9lb, a roach/bream hybrid of 4lb 8oz, plus a perch well over 2lb… what a dream day.
To be honest, if I’d been there on my own I’m convinced that I could have caught 20 or 30 doublefigure fish, but I think it’s possible to catch too many big fish at once. Eventually it becomes difficult to really appreciate each one.
As we rowed back to the shore I felt so elated and uplifted from the whole experience.
Looking back now I feel proud because this amazing catch was taken at a time when bags of huge bream, carp, tench, barbel and chub were nowhere near as common as they are today.
And to do it on the float just put the icing on the cake of a catch that still leaves me shaking my head and chuckling to myself to this very day.”
To watch the amazing footage of John’s catch use this link: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=rbvd4aZt7B4
Viewers of the Go Fishing TV show were captivated by John’s catch. 3
Just one of John’s nine double-figure bream taken on one special morning.