Euro Fishing: Clint Walker - Hunting Bream
What a change in the weather! It’s gone from freezing winds and rain, to the hottest April day recorded since the 1940’s! It’s lovely to sit in, but it’s played havoc with my fishing again, as blistering temperatures and bright sunshine appear to have put most fish off the feed… Nevertheless, I’ve been back out again this week in search of bream from a water with a reputation for being a little bit moody, but which contains bream into double figures. I’ve fished it for pike over winter with little success, and had a couple of sessions so far for bream with even less success, so surely it was time for my luck to change?
At just over four acres, Hales Hall isn’t a particularly big water. It’s spring fed, meaning that temperatures often take a while to improve after winter, it’s crystal clear, and has a proliferation of pesky birdlife which can spot a freebie from the other end of the lake, so it can present a challenge. I’ve been thinking hard about how best to tackle the water, and after Spotted Fin released the Dark Superblend, a black groundbait which stays black on the lake bed, I was keen to try it at Hales Hall for two reasons. I have my suspicions that like on many clear venues, the fish don’t like to be silhouetted over light groundbaits, and secondly, I was hoping the pesky avian marauders wouldn’t be able to see it either! Dark Superblend is a low food value product, so I added a few handfuls of Betafin pellets, and a small amount of the hemp and tigers ready prepared mix from the same stable, before loading a cage feeder, and having ten quick casts to get some bait down…
I tend to fish a paternoster rig when feeder fishing, putting the feeder on a short boom to keep it clear of the hook bait to help alleviate the potential for tangles, and usually start with a hook length of around two feet until I start to see bites, and adjust as required. Bream can be finicky feeders, adjustment is often necessary until bites become clear, and the ‘tip pulls around confidently. A trio of red maggots adorned a size 16 hook, and clipped up, I cast out onto my spot and tightened up until a barely perceptible curve formed in the quivertip. Now it was time to wait…
I intended to cast every ten minutes to keep a steady stream of bait going into the swim, hoping that bream would eventually find it on their patrols, and decide to have a feed. After an hour without so much as a twitch, during which time I’d tried worm, double maggot, treble maggot, and corn, I hadn’t noticed so much as a tremble of indication to inspire any hope; surely not another blank session? There were four anglers elsewhere on the lake, all struggling similarly, with no fish reported, so I started to consider changing tactics. As I pondered, the tip barely moved, but definitely flinched! As I watched the mesmerising bob of the tip against the backdrop of ripples, I began to wonder if I was seeing things, but then it certainly moved. A slow steady pull, and I swept the rod aloft to connect with a fish at last!
A rapid series of thumps told me it wasn’t a bream, and after a minute or so, a chunky hybrid of around three pounds slipped into the waiting net and was quickly unhooked and returned. A further hour of persisting with a cage feeder bought nothing else, so I decided to swap to The Method… one of my favourite styles of fishing! My groundbait mix was easily stiffened, and a small flat feeder loaded with black, sticky mix. On the hook, a single grain of sweetcorn was held on the hair by a bayonet, and it was flicked out to the baited patch. It wasn’t a quick fix. I left it for ten minutes, then a second cast for fifteen minutes, and a third for thirty minutes, before eventually, a slight nod, and then the end of the rod pulled round slowly. It looked like a bream bite, it felt like a bream bite, and as a slab of bronze surfaced in the middle of the lake, before quickly surrendering, it was definitely a bream bite! At last!
Whilst not the most exciting battle, a decent bream is still a hugely impressive fish, and although it wasn’t one of the double figure fish which do reside here, it was still a fair fish at 8lb 4oz, and a great way to open my account, so I was pleased. This one was photographed and then left in the net to rest before release, and the bait was quickly returned to the hot spot. Thirty minutes passed, then a similar pull saw a smaller sample of perhaps five pounds netted, then another of almost the same size thirty minutes after that to make four fish in total. I was fishing in shallow water, chosen because the wind was pushing hard to this end of the lake, and inevitably, feathered bait thieves noticed the disturbance, and came to investigate. My baited patch was so tight that had I continued, it would have been difficult not to hook a coot or duck, so I decided to pack up and see what others had caught. Of the four other anglers, only a single other fish had been caught between them, and that was also a small hybrid, proving that on a tough day, perhaps my tactics had worked well.
I’ve learned a bit too, every session adds more information, and the extra knowledge is now logged to add to the ‘bigger picture’, so hopefully I’ll get a double figure bream from Hales Hall soon. If not, I’ll certainly enjoy trying, especially as I’ve had another walk around since, and spotted some rather large carp lurking; if the bream won’t play ball, maybe the carp will? I hope so!