16lb 11oz bream for low-stock pit

A relentless pre-baiting campaign finally paid off for Dave Harman this week when he slipped his net under this fine 16lb 11oz bream from a rock-hard Lea Valley pit.

The former Drennan Cup winner took the fish alongside six other double-figure specimens to 13lb 8oz during a two-night trip to Langridge Lake on the Essex and Herts border.

The ‘classic’ bream bait of a stack of sweetcorn - comprising a mixture of real and artificial grains - did the business for the 47-year-old all-rounder from Addlestone in Surrey, who comfortably beat his old best for the species of 15lb with the capture.

It was just reward for a summer spent battling against chronic floating weed problems at the 180-acre windswept venue, as he explained.

“Before every session I’ve been spending upwards of an hour clearing the huge banks of weed, which extend for about 70yards in front of the swim. If I didn’t bother, I’d be waking up in the morning with a car-sized ball of the stuff attached to the lines!” said Dave.

“Then, whenever I’ve hooked a fish, I’ve had to keep the rod high and walk to the back of the swim, without giving any line.”

To keep the bites coming, Dave has been priming his spots regularly with a big hit of particles, introducing 30kg of sweetcorn, hemp and wheat every week since July. Bites have been few and far between for most of the campaign, although that all changed on his latest visit, when the bream uncharacteristically chose to feed during daylight hours.

“Nearly all my fish over the past month have come at between 6am and 2pm, which is really weird because in the past it’s always been night-time action on there. I got the take from the big one at quarter to seven in the morning, and to begin with when I looked in the net I thought it was another 12 or 13lb’er. It was only when I lifted it out of the net that I saw how thick across the back it was,” Dave added.

His successful rig was made from 15lb ESP Strip Teaze coated braid, coupled with a size 8 hook and a 4oz lead on a safety clip.