Thursday, 15 September 2011

Silver Bream - No Sign of Either Or

Martin and I mounted a foray after a couple of target species up the Grand Union Canal Saturday last - he after zander and me after zander and silver bream at one and the same time. I was windy and wild but as with all canals in even hurricane force winds you can always find an area that is dead calm in which to fish, so our first port of call was to the windiest area of canal I have ever fished in my life because it looked so flipping zandery...

A stack of permanently moored boats three deep just had to harbor a gang of them and against the hulls of those boats was where we cast our roach sections. I then extracted my float rod from a tangle in the rod bag - it was already set up from the previous perch session with a crystal waggler and a size eight hook. I just could not be arsed to tie on a smaller hook under the prevailing conditions what with the wind ripping the tears from my eyes so I hooked up a huge piece of breadflake on what in a canal  is equivalent to a shark hook (match anglers aghast here... but canal fish ain't that fussy - as I will now prove) and cast it mid-channel, sank the line and then baited the spot where it eventually settled down at forty five degrees to the rod top with a single slice of mashed bread.

It wasn't a bad move as the crudity of the tackle proved to be well suited to conditions which would have crucified my usual canal tactics of a super-sensitive antennae float perfectly shotted and dotted to indicate outsized lift bites.

High seas on the cut

We were more or less in the general area where Keith had found a pod of silvers back in springtime, had then landed a true monster of a fish at 2lb 2oz and then after spawning hooked it again at 1lb 14oz. I wasn't after his fish to gain extra mileage on the challenge scoreboard as my PB fish of a pound five caught within days of his was sufficient for that purpose, but really after establishing if the species is common or uncommon in the area by sampling two or three different stretches in close proximity to one and other and whether or not the same patterns would emerge as have at my own silver's hotspot on the Coventry Canal, ie, they appear in Spring as if by magic at a certain point, are completely absent everywhere else along the abutting stretches of canal for what must be miles at that time, and then simply vanish by early Summer.

If the pattern emerged that they really were very localised then I knew they would not be caught at all outside of a specific area no greater than three match pegs in length, and that's about a hundred yards or so. A needle in a haystack.

The first bite came, as always seems to be the case with this method of fishing bread over bread groundbait, within no time at all but it was not from the intended species but its big sister the common bronze bream. Another joined it on the bank ten minutes later but the zander rods were failing to tempt the light shy creatures out from the darkness beneath the boats.

The good end of a boat...

Then the boat trouble really started as the sluice gates at the nearby lock opened moving two hundred yards of water through the swim in minutes, the floats scudding downstream as the placid waters of the canal turned into a three minute river. It was useless to fish under these circumstances so we reeled in and waited while a succession of boats passed through.

Nothing else came along in the way of fish so we moved down to a section out of the wind. Here I fished in amongst the accumulated dead leaves in the slack that is created between two windy sections and here had bites almost immediately, again from bronze bream juveniles of which I had three in quick succession.

Martin waits for a zed

When it was obvious that no zander were going to take our baits we moved again, this time along a tree-lined section with overhanging bushes on the far bank that looked as if zander might well occupy the gloom beneath. They didn't, but I did have another skimmer bream for my efforts.

A baby bream

At the last we moved back to the first swims and tried again. Another couple of bream came along but of zander there was no sign whatsoever...

So, no captures of either of our quarries but some lessons learned - bream are not put off by crude tactics, the silvers are as rare here as everywhere else and zander cannot be relied upon even in areas where they certainly are.

I'll be back come spring...


  1. Unlucky Jeff and Martin. You were fishing the pound where I had the silver bream from, no doubt about it.

    Keith .J

  2. was getting one silver for every two skimmers round my way. I had eight skimmers on this afternoon...