The bream is an angler's favourite. Why? Because if you catch one there's a very high chance you will catch another. And another. And more.
Bream are a shoaling species. They are the equivalent to an underwater herd of cows, travelling together and feeding slowly, methodically and ravenously.
They grow quite large and will very quickly mop-up a massive amount of food when a shoal of bream move over it.
Bream can reach very impressive weights when living in food-rich waters, or those that are heavily fed with high-protein carp bait. The current record stand at an enormous 19lb 12oz.
Bream are fairly easy to distinguish from all other species of British freshwater fish. It has a very deep and flat body, a mouth that protrudes quite far from the fish's head, long dorsal and tail fins, plus a coating of thick and rather smelly slime.
This slime will adhere to keepnets and cause a tremendous pong if it isn't washed off quite quickly, as any ardent Irish or Dutch angler will tell you!
Colouration of the bream varies enormously depending upon the age and size. Young bream are very deep-bodied yet extremely thin. Their bodies are a silver colour, sometimes almost white, and when these fish are caught they quickly rise to the surface where they can be skimmed across the top of the water straight into the net - that's why young bream are nicknamed skimmers.
Older bream - those over the 2-3lb mark - tend to have creamy undersides, bronze flanks and dark brown backs.
Breeding of the bream takes place in shallow weedy water in late spring, when water temperatures increase. You can easily identify when a male bream is nearing the breeding time as they grow quite hard, white tubercles on their heads and shoulders.
Bream use these tubercles to help trigger the females into releasing their eggs, as they rub against the females in the shallows.
The females lay thousands of pale yellow eggs over soft weed, which hatch within eight to 12 days.
At this time of the year other species are breeding too, in particular the roach. They use the same breeding areas as the bream and because the DNA of both roach and bream are so similar, cross fertilisation sometimes takes place, where a male roach will fertilise bream eggs and vice versa. The inevitable outcome are plenty of bream/roach hybrids.
Bream are predominently bottom feeders, rooting through silt and gravel to hunt for crustaceans, leaches, other fish eggs and midge larvae, which they absolutely adore.
In clear but silty waterways it is quite easy to spot a shoal of feeding bream - once they 'get their heads down' and begin rooting through the silt they colour the water, giving away their prescence quite easily.
Bream absolutely adore groundbait too. From simple brown crumb to any of the more complicated and additive-packed continental groundbaits, they love most of them.
If you introduce a good helping of groundbait either through a feeder during your session, or by balling the groundbait in by hand at the start of the session you will give the bream a great reason to come and feed in your swim.
Some of the most productive groundbaits for instant bream success are those that contain inactive fishmeal particles.
Bream can be found almost everywhere in Europe, from stillwater to commercials, canals to rivers. They aren't that widespread in Scotland though, only worth targeting in some southern-most lochs.
The perfect habitat for bream are deep stillwaters and deep rivers, where they thrive, but bream can be found in clear shallow rivers - here the best place to locate bream are in the deep and slack areas of wierpools.
To late bream in the warmer months head towards swims where the breeze is hitting you straight in the face. Bream always follow a wind, so if there are waves lapping against your feet or seatbox, bream won't be too far away.
Look out for...
Bream love the darkness and security of deep water.
Wide open swims are perfect for big bream hauls.
Always fish head-on into a warm wind to locate bream shoals.
This tiny little bream is a species in its own right and is often confused with baby bream. They have the same body shape, but their eyes are larger and the body is almost slimeless.
Two other differences are that the mouth doesn't protrude as far as the more prolific common bream, and the fins are a shade of pink.
Breeding of the silver bream is exactly the same as that of the common bream.
In Europe the silver bream thrives in lowland rivers and lakes, but unfortunately the silver bream is almost an endangered species in the British Isles - only a few shoals exist in East Anglia.