Friday, 18 May 2012

Silver Bream - Phenomenal Fish

Have I actually caught what the title suggests? Well, no. Quite the contrary. I have not. I'd like to have, but haven't. I've tried, but failed. Again.

I'm talking here about the real meaning of the word phenomenal, which means uncommon, or extraordinary, not grossly large. This fish, the silver bream, Blicca bjoerkna, is the most 'phenomenal' fish that swims in the canal. A beautiful fish to behold. Lovely looking they are, all bright scale and rose tinted belly, red in the fin and with puppy eyes that make them as cute as a fish can ever be. They come and they go, and no-one knows where or why. They turn up at certain places at certain times of the year and then vanish for the rest. They are, a phenomenon. For just one brief moment they can be caught, and then try as you may, you cannot catch another.

Cock bream with tubercules
That moment has arrived. Whilst the bream are spawning, the silvers can be caught, and the bream of the canals are hard at it right now, crashing about up the far bank shelf spraying eggs and milt onto the drooping briars. This pandemonium causes a lot of interest. All kinds of creatures find it an irresistible spectacle and fish especially so. Fish that have no apparent cause to be there, are there. They are not nearly ready to spawn themselves, but nevertheless, they gather to watch.

Well that's what I thought last year, and the year before that, but this year it has become plain that they are there to feast. It is the equivalent of a one course Medieval banquet of bream eggs that starts at a certain time dictated by ambient water temperature and continues just as long as the conditions last, till the bream are spent and flaccid, but all other bellies are fit to burst.

The water birds know all about it too. A family of swans appeared and the parents upended to dabble about on the bottom. The chicks, without any prompting, went about the business of dabbling too, not on the bottom which they couldn't reach, but in the submerged briars, to pick off the eggs. They were there an hour before the chicks were satiated, and then they left.

Try not...
I've been out after the silvers three times this week. Short sessions, no longer than two or three hours at most, and all productive of bream, but not of the silver kind. Last year and the year before it was a certainty that enough bream would eventually turn into the right bream (and I ain't interested in catching the wrong bream, but catching them is not something that can be easily avoided!) and the right bream would come along in sufficient numbers to make the exercise a worthwhile one. But not this year, so far.

The float rod was retired for a while and the lead rod made up. Casting this about demonstrated just how many fish were present that the float rod failed to show up. Everywhere I cast it, and no matter where I cast it, far left, far right, straight ahead, up the far bank, in the track, along the near bank, the rod top danced away merrily as fish, after fish, after fish, bumped into the line. The entire area was simply heaving with fish. Hardly any took the bait, but I couldn't tell a bite from a liner in any case.

Amongst all these fish silvers will be found, but quite how they can be caught is another matter. My previous experience say that they'll turn up duly, but this years experience suggest that they might well not. I should have caught one by now, but they have once again, failed to show themselves. Phenomenal fish that they are...

... to hang up!

Perhaps they will be caught later than in previous years? The bream are spawning three weeks later than usual due to the cool Spring and the fact that the canal flowed like a river for a week because of all the recent rain, so the silver bream spawning may well take place later still, because silvers and bream do not (or should not) spawn at the same time of year, but some time apart from each other, and for obvious reasons.

Wrong fish. Again!
Still. If and when they do turn up, there is a short month in which to pursue them, but no more than that...

It's not enough! How can the season be extended? How can this fish be caught at other times? What the hell is going on with them? Are they strictly nocturnal? Are they strictly this, or strictly that, or strictly whatever?

And then I broke my float rod ~

Ah Crap!
I love this rod. It's lashed up from previous breakages and eyes drop off from time to time as the whipping varnish cracks and fails. It broke because I missed an eye out as I threaded the rod up, pulled it tight to tie the hook, and it simply snapped in two. The eye in the picture was not the one I'd missed out, but was one that dropped off some time ago and was lashed up on the bank with superglue as a working, but temporary repair, but like all my temporary repairs, it was permanent. I guess it might be high time I stripped the entire rod down and rewhipped all the eyes back on, but knowing me I'll just saw off a bit of old broken pole tip, jam it down the top section of the rod as a splint, glue the two halves back together, and carry on with it as it is. Battle scars is what I call em', you might call em' something else!

Hen bream full of spawn
But hey! Rods get broken, rods get repaired, tomorrow is another day, and another day is when the phenomenal fish will return. So I'll end this report now, but without conclusion.

However, I can't leave off without a reminder, so here's what I remember they look like. A picture, that like all pictures, does only half-justice to its subject.

Till tomorrow...


  1. Ah that is a relief, another phantom rod breaker!

  2. Yeah, I'm good at that!

    Always in use though, never in transit. That's what rods are for...