Wednesday 11 April 2012

Big Pit Bream - In Advance of Better Things

Monday morning, Keith and I set out for day session at Kingsbury Water Park to fish the 47 acre expanse of Bodymoor Heath. My diligent research suggested a water where a double-figure bream, one of my targets for the coming summer, was indeed possible, but very unlikely because of its enormous head of fish a quarter of that size. My research also led me to the conclusion that whatever I wrote about our day out, would be ten times the information you'll find on the water from any other source, which is incredible considering how old the huge Kingsbury Water Park fishery complex is.

My first problem was one of not having a current fishing license having been away up North the whole weekend and failing to remember to purchase one before. I tried online in the morning before Keith turned up, but was blocked by a lost passcode for the debit card transaction verification widget that popped up at the last minute -- I think online transactions should be pay first, laboriously enter your details second! Anyways, my plan was to ring the EA license people on the bank after 9AM and do it that way. This meant going fishing, but not knowing If I'd be successful in getting one, and that would mean fishing and taking the risk of a fine, or not. I got one, but it took fricking ages to achieve, what with the EA girl not being able to 'process me', then not able to process my debit card for quite silly verification reasons, and then Keith stepping in and paying for it on his which required no verification on his part at all! He wasn't even asked to speak. I could so easily have been using his stolen card.

I got my unique identification code down without a pen ( who takes a pen fishing?) by making a video for the EA bailiff who we really hoped would now appear on the horizon and who'd have to view it for proof!

We'd decided to pitch on the far side of the lake in a swim called 'dead tree', which was large enough to allow us to sit beside each other and chat. The south-westerly wind pushing the water down our end presented the first problem in the form of strong undertow dragging the lines back in the opposite direction to the wind and caused the light bobbins to rise. I cured the problem by hanging 1oz swim feeders off the bobbins, but it was only just enough, and untidy too. Keith used heavy swing arm indicators, and cured the problem that way. I don't have any, never yet having the need for them.

I saw this trip as something of a practice session, a test bed if you will. I've been looking into fishing for big bream for some time but can find no definitive bait, groundbait, method or rig for them. One 'successful bream angler' say's one thing, another say's something entirely different. There's loads out there on match fishing for skimmers, but hard information on targeting very large fish is sketchy, the majority of large bream banked each year being those caught by carp anglers by accident, but very few by those targeting them specifically.

My mind say's that in order to fish confidently for large fish of any species you must first have supreme confidence in your end rig, and this must be a rig that will catch the specimen you are after if one should so much as sniff at it, anything less representing hours when many may well have come by and sniffed at it, but not tripped up because of inherent (but soluble) problems in the thinking behind the rig.

It is true that what catches small roach will catch big roach, What catches small pike will catch big pike. There are no other rigs for the big un's with such species, besides those that also catch the small un's. It's then a matter, once such detail is sorted, of finding where the small fish are not, but the big fish are.

The same will certainly be true of bream.

My rigs were ones used just recently, and these rigs are ones that have proven themselves recently with Martin Roberts' capture of a double-figure bream just a couple of weeks back (but as Martin rightly said at the time, may well have caught it despite his method and bait... ) These are lead-core leaders with a heavy feeder hung on the end and a helicopter style short hook-link trapped on the leader a little way above. A classic modern rig. These were cast to the left hand side of the swim, both fishing a corn and worm cocktail, and about forty yards out, whilst Keith cast his initial rig choices, a large method feeder fishing corn and a maggot-feeder rigged helicopter style fishing red maggots, to the right and perhaps fifty yards distant.

We sat back to await events...

Keith about to respond to another run. My brolly was knackered anyhow, and by the end of the day it was blown inside out, trashed and only fit for the bin.

What followed on was one of the most informative fishing days of my life. By the end of play Keith had caught well over twenty small bream, the majority as predicted between one and three pounds, but with two around the six pound mark, all of which had fallen to the maggot feeder, whilst I went not only completely fish-less, but also very nearly bite-less over the course of the same 12 hours sat waiting in the self-same swim. It was extraordinary.

I could easily have moved along to a swim to the right of Keith and probably picked up fish there, but the fish Keith was catching really didn't warrant that, and so I decided to just stick it out the whole day and watch events unfold. I'm glad I did, for I learned more about bream rigs over those hours than I ever knew before and by the end of the day had designed a prototype in my minds eye that I reckon, once it's developed and refined, will sort out any bream, of any size, and from anywhere.

Keith's rig, successful though it was on the day, was also responsible for the loss of the majority of his early fish. One after the other were bumped just after hooking. I suggested not striking and this worked immediately, just so long as Keith eased the fish in very cautiously, because all his fish were extremely lightly hooked. This suggests a either hook-link length problem, or as likely, a hook pattern problem. Or more likely still, both. Whatever the truth, a perfect rig does not require pussyfooting with fish as it hooks fish firmly so Keith's rig was certainly part of the answer, but not the whole of it.

Later in the day I bit off both lead core rigs and began fishing maggots off the end of a light method feeder. This received bites, small indications, but no hook ups. Later still I decided to fish the feeders without feed of any kind, and as before received a few indications but nothing worth striking. In the last hour I decided to fish both baits at extreme range (as extreme as these rods can manage, which is about 80 yards) and there had my first proper bites, so perhaps I had fished all day over an area devoid of bream? Therefore I cannot simply dismiss the lead core rigs out of hand...

All I know is this, There is a better way than any I have ever come across, a way that can be trusted in any case and under any conditions, and I'll find it out. Though Bodymoor Heath may not be the best specimen bream water in the world, it might well be a very good place, in the absence of anywhere better, to hone things in advance of sessions on waters that are.

PS: That one mobile call to the EA 0800 number cost me very nearly a tenner. Prohibitive? No. That's Extortion! No wonder the girl at the other end had such trouble 'processing' me...


  1. It was seven fish bumped to twenty five landed Jeff.

    It certainly was an educational session! Before last weekend I'd never caught a proper fish on maggot helicopters and yet I bagged a dozen tench and a good number of bream on them within 48hrs.

    And you had plenty of time to contemplate things! ;)

  2. Somehow mis-worded things. Should have been the words 'majority of his EARLY fish', sorry about that Keith! Amended now.

  3. Hmmm, I kind of combine those rigs, my standard tench approach is a leadcore leader with the short helicopter rig, plastic maggots and maggot feeder on the end, that seems to work pretty well for the bream too. The leadcore I'm not sure is essential and after all of these these I never have fully made my mind up about the stuff on gravel pits, over silt I'm happy with it. I do keep my bobbins "tight up" though, I know its nice seeing liners when using a drop but I do like the fish to hit that tension as soon as possible. Having said that they use similiar rigs on Swithland for the bream at very long range, 200yds and over is possible and at that you can't possibly have a true tight line but it seems to cause no problems.

  4. The maggot helicopter is deadly, i use nothing else these days when legering for Tench and Bream. I dont bother with leadcore myself though because it sticks out like a sore thumb and i like my rig to collapse upon hooking a fish, i find they tend to stay on better. Change hooklinks regularly too as being so short the knots take a real battering.

  5. Thats what I mean about gravel pits and 'core mate, on silt it makes no difference whatsoever.

  6. Its a personal preference thing for me Rob, i cant stand the stuff and feel that it offers me no benefits whatsoever. People get obsessed with pinning the end tackle to the lakebed yet if you fish at any kind of range there is no need for leadcore as the line will automatically lay on the bottom anyway unless your fishing bowstring tight to 6oz+ leads!
    It does look horrendous under the water no matter what bottom its used over but then again so does braided mainline and i certainly have no qualms on that front.

  7. Didn't understand a word of any of that, nor the comments, except the words 'maggot' & 'skimmer'. Does anyone have a glossary of modern angling terms please...with diagrams?!

  8. Deep breath George, stiff drink too maybe?!

    I don't buy into tackle scaring fish half as much as people think as you know Leo, a size 10 hook leaves me in a cold sweat, a 4 is much more like it! No, my reason for using leadcore was initially anti tangle as I was using raided links and it just stayed on when I switched to mono but I then started to think that actually that bit of extra weight hanging directly below the hooklink as the bait is picked up probably isn't a bad thing either.

  9. I'm looking into a distance set up, one that will get me 120 yards plus on a cast. The rig fished at that range needs to be a reliable self-hooker, nothing else will do. There's some interesting stuff that continental match anglers do to catch bream at extreme range, in fact I have a Garbolino Swinton, a distance feeder rod that I found in Cash Converters and that has no other conceivable use close in, it's so stiff. It's a mini beachcaster really. Trouble is, the tip eyes are too small to take the shock leader knot!

  10. It'll need to be insured by Swinton the way I do a proper long chuck employing a Hatt version of the pendulum cast. In the right hands its lethal, in the wrong hands it's actually lethal!

  11. Jeff - If Keith caught 25 fish at 60 yds why go 120?

    The short link helicoptor rig is the catch any fish rig. Chub roach bream and tench all respond well but I increase the hook length for barbel.

  12. Your not wrong Phil the short rig is very reliable, we can add crucians to that list too

  13. But its achilles heel is that it does not, and cannot, tell you what you have missed. When it works it works, when it does not work there is nothing to go on. Snares are all, or nothing. They do not return any other data other than outright success.