WIN MORE MATCHES WITH BREAM
Steve reveals the tricks you’ll need for Supercup glory
THE countdown is on to the Angling Times Supercup Final at Barston Lakes on September 17... and my advice would be to ignore the bream at your peril.
One of the great things about commercial fisheries is that not only do they contain lots of carp, but there are lots of other fish to go at. Barston is a prime example.
Take the big lake, for instance – yes it’s full of carp and big F1s that will undoubtedly fill the top individual places, but it’s the bream and skimmers that will be vital if you don’t draw on a carp swim, or they’re having an off day. You can still win by targeting the lake’s huge head of silverfish.
These are fish that are often neglected, yet when they’re fished for properly bags of well over 100lb are possible.
All of a sudden these bream can transform an average carp peg into a potential match-winner.
Here’s how to do it…
CORN IS CRUCIAL
While there are lots of baits that will work for bream at Barston there is nothing better than corn when you are looking to catch a big weight.
Of course, catching a lot of bream means you’ll need to put in a lot of bait and normally, for five hours, I would want to bring at least five 300g tins of sweetcorn with me.
The beauty of corn at a venue like Barston is that there are skimmers of all sizes in there, and corn tends to pick out the bigger stamp of fish.
Alongside the corn I also carry some 6mm expanders – which are purely for the hook – and some groundbait and micros too.
The groundbait is Ringers R Crush. This is basically ground expanders to which I also add handful of micro pellets just to give the mix that bit more food content.
On the subject of the groundbait, I like to mix it slightly overwetted so that it gets straight down to the bottom.
What you don’t want is your mix to cloud up in the water, because even though Barston is a shallow venue particles falling down through the water can lead to fish coming off the bottom and line bites and foul-hookers turning the session into a nightmare.
FIND A HARD SPOT
Where you fish depends entirely on how much pressure is on the water.
For instance, if there’s plenty of room I will look to try and fish short, at around six joints of my pole. This gives me the option to feed both by hand or via a pole pot. The bottom at Barston tends to be harder short, softening up the farther out you go.
The nature of the bottom is very important – if it’s too soft you tend to find you start to catch a few bream, then the swim begins to fizz and gradually it gets harder and harder to get a bite.
When this happens there isn’t a lot you can do other than look to move your line.
So once fizzing becomes a problem I will start a new swim around a metre to the left or right of the original one.
A little tip, if you are worried about how soft the bottom might be where you are intending to fish, is to use a heavy plummet to try and get a feel for what you are fishing over.
For this I favour the Guru 30g version. What I like to do is plumb up and then, once I have the depth right, lift the float complete with plummet 6ins clear of the water and drop it hard straight back down again.
If the bottom is very soft the float will vanish as the plummet gets plugged in the silt, and this will become apparent when you try to lift out, as you’ll feel noticeable resistance.
How I feed my peg depends on whether I fish for skimmers from the start, or kick off looking for a carp and then pick the pole up an hour into the match.
Let’s say I am going to start on the pole. In this case I will start the match by using a medium-sized Kinder pot on the end of the pole. This holds two-thirds corn and one-third groundbait.
I like to feed a bit of groundbait at the start, purely to try and kick-start the swim that little bit quicker. Corn on its own offers limited attraction.
Once the skimmers and bream arrive I will cut out the groundbait and just feed a Kinder pot full of corn after every fish to help keep them on the bottom.
As effective as groundbait is, I actually find it too potent and it tends to drive the bream into a frenzy. For this reason I cut it out
once the fish have arrived.
If I decide to try for carp first I still need to feed the swim at the off, and will do so with a big pot.
I put in two-thirds of a pot of feed, made up of mainly corn with a sprinkling of loose groundbait on the top.
From this point on, while I am not fishing the pole line I will look to feed corn by catapult with a view to then tightening the baited area up with the Kinder pot once I drop on to it.
LIGHTER RIGS BEST
I have always believed that bream are a bit different to most fish in that they like a bit of movement on the float.
So, with this in mind when targeting them on commercials, I prefer to use light rigs in order to try and pick up any tow there might be.
At Barston today I’ve been using a 10x11 MW F1 Slim float in 3ft of water. The F1 Slim is a really versatile float and one that I love for this type of fishing, as it sits quickly and offers very little resistance on the strike.
Mainline is 0.15mm Guru N-Gauge to a 4ins hooklength of 0.12mm fluorocarbon.
Hook choice is a size 16 Guru F1 Pellet hook which perfectly suits baits like corn and expanders.
Shotting pattern is a loosely strung bulk of No11 shot with the bottom one 4ins from the hook and the rest of the droppers spaced at 1in intervals above this.
KICK OFF WITH CORN
When it comes to hookbaits there are only two for this type of fishing – corn and 6mm expander pellets. I will always kick off with a single grain of corn – after all, I’m feeding corn so it makes perfect sense to fish the same on the hook. Of course, things don’t always go to plan and if the fishing is a little bit hard I find that a 6mm expander fished over the top of the corn will bring bites when corn itself fails.
I’m not sure why this is, but it’s happened too many times to be coincidence, so now I always have a few on my bait tray when I’m fishing for bream on a commercial, Barston Lakes included.
LAND EVERY FISH
My elastic choice for skimmers and bream in shallow water is Yellow Hydro.
This is soft enough to allow me to lift into a bream and ship
straight back without fear of the bream splashing all over the surface or the hook pulling.
I can then use the puller kit in my pole to gain control once I have the fish down to a top kit.
I reckon I can land bream quicker with Yellow Hydro than I can using a heavier elastic!
Nothing beats corn for a big weight of bream.
Yellow Hydro elastic stops bream splashing on the way in and disturbing the rest of the shoal.
Groundbait and corn for skimmers.
Hookbait choices and groundbait mix.
This net of Barston bream fell to corn.
Use a heavy plummet to find the right spot.