Of all our tiny British freshwater species the bleak is the fish most sought-after by anglers. The reason for this is because they are easy to catch, they swim in huge shoals and they allow match anglers to put together great weights in a very short time.




Bleak are tiny fish - the British record is just over 4oz! They are long, flat-sided and sleek fish - much like a stillwater herring, really. They have large eyes and a turned-up mouth that is ideal for taking food off the surface or in the upper layers as it falls.

The tail is forked, the scales are quite large (they fall away from the fish easily too), and the fins are a transparent grey/yellow.

The flanks of bleak vary between pure silver through to an almost metallic blue/green, depending upon the water clarity and quality.





Spawning of this species takes place in the late spring, like most of our British species. They seek shallow water running over soft weed in which the female lays its eggs. The male intercepts the eggs to fertilise them.

Given good water conditions and a steady temperature the bleak's eggs will hatcgh within 10-14 days.





Competition between bleak is almost always quite frantic due to the size of the shoals, so not a lot gets passed a bleak. They will feed on all manner of insects that accidentally drop onto the surface of the river.

Their staple diet comprises: water fleas, daphnia, emerging insects, midges and the likes - bascially anything small that drifts past their little noses!

To catch bleak on rod and line, or better still, a whip, you don't need anything too complicated. Maggots will do the trick - two or even three maggots on a size 14 hook should be enough to catch five or more bleak before you need to change your bait.

When there are hundreds in your swim you will quite easily catch bleak on maggot skins, as proven by many match anglers who take on the shoals that inhabit the mighty River Wye.



Bleak flourish in rivers, particularly lowland Midland and Southern English rivers where the water is slow-moving, but they are doing extremely well in the River Wye and its tributaries.

Bleak tend to feed and inhabit the upper layers of the water - generally the top third of water, unless temperatures are so low that these silvery fish are forced towards the bottom.


Look out for...


Search out lowland rivers for hoardes of bleak.


Evenly paced swims offer the best sport for bleak.


You will find bleak in the main river or its tributaries.