At this time of year, even a single day of rain is enough to send river levels up and add colour to the water. When that happens, bream become a reliable target.
Spurred into feeding by this influx of water and reduced visibility, these fish can appear after months of absence. In mild weather, 100lb is possible when you land on a hungry shoal on slow-flowing venues – but it’s far from a case of simply throwing a feeder out and bagging!
We asked England international and former FeederMasters champ Darren Cox for his tips on river bream succes in these conditions.
Choose your peg
“The first consideration is where in the peg to fish. I look for any large areas of slack water, whether thaey are caused by a bay or water running off a bend.
“The point where a river opens out from narrows is another guaranteed bream area. They love slower water, as not only is there reduced pace but natural food and silt will gather, resulting in a big larder for them to get stuck into.
“The silt will be full of bloodworm and the bream won’t move far from here. To find a silty bottom, cast a feeder or bomb out and wind it slowly back across the river bed. Resistance as the lead digs into the silt tells you you’ve found what you’re looking for.”
Add some fishmeal
“With colour in the water, bream feed by scent, not sight, so a groundbait to go in the feeder needs something powerful to stop them – that means fishmeal. I’ll mix up a ‘normal’ bream blend of sweet groundbait but also add a good helping of a halibut or plain pellet-based mix. This is mixed fairly dry to empty out quickly.”
Feed and hookbaits
“Keeping with the positive theme, I try and cram each feederful with as many particles as I can. That’s casters, chopped worm and dead maggots lacing the groundbait, because a big bream can demolish a feeder of bait in one go. Imagine this happening with a dozen fish in the area and you can see how much feed needs to go in.
“For the hook, nothing can beat worms on a coloured river, and while a dendra or lobworm tail is good, I swear by two large redworms tipped with a dead red maggot. Redworms wriggle like mad, and a bream can pick them out far quicker than three dead maggots, for example.”
Keep the bait going in
“I’ll cast every five minutes, even if I’m not getting bites to keep the bait going in on a regular basis – you have to be positive. Clipping up and aiming to a far-bank marker will put the feeder in the right place each time.
“If I cast and immediately get a knock on the tip this tells me that the fish are not backing off and that they want the feed, so you need to try and read the timing of the bite. If I am left waiting five minutes for an indication then the fish could be backing off.”
The feeder is king
“Rod and line is the only option for tackling a slack at range – the waggler just won’t present the bait still enough. That means it’ll be an out-and-out feeder job. Rigs for a slow river are nothing special, made up of the feeder running on the mainline that has a short 4ins twizzled length above the hooklink, for a semi-bolt rig effect.
“Mainline of 6lb is perfect, with a 30g wire cage feeder heavy enough to hold bottom in the slower water. A hooklink of 2ft 6ins or 3ft made up of 0.16mm Garbo Line will put the bait well downstream of the feeder, which is where you often find bigger bream sat below the feed picking off particles. That only leaves the hook to pick, and I can’t fault a size 13 Kamasan B711.”
“Six feeders of bait go in at the start and I would expect indications quickly. If nothing happens after half-an-hour but I am getting small fish knocks, this tells me more bait needs to go in so out go another six feederfuls.
“If nothing is happening at all then it will be a bit of a waiting game so you’ll need to leave the feeder out for longer and wait. Provided you are on a bream peg and conditions are right, there’s no reason why they won’t feed.”