Wednesday, 22 June 2011


My syndicate lake in deepest Shropshire is going through a bad patch. The lake is known for it's small head of large carp and equally small head of enormous bream and of course it's the latter that interest me. The lake is around 90 acres but prior to the start of 2011 there were just eleven known carp in the water. I say "were" because a tragedy has
been unfolding over the last few months, a family of otters has set up home at the venue. I've seen them several times swimming back and forth and I did wonder how long it would be before the otters crossed paths with the carp. It seems four of the carp have been consumed so far, including the largest known resident and they have also chomped four of the bream.

Now modern carping holds no interest for me. I've seen far too many good waters turned into "campsites" by the addition of numbers of mediochre carp. Cheshire and Shropshire are now full of lakes that hold little other than carp up to around the thirty pound mark, not big fish, and it's been to the cost of the tench and bream fisherman. This lake's different though. The regulars haven't piled in stockies just so that they can get a run, they like it hard because when a fish does get caught it represents much more of an achievement. I feel sorry for these guys, their fishing's probably ruined and unlike the "can't catch, won't catch" brigade, they've played by the rules. The great danger is that the syndicate will fold now and the water will be taken over by the local club who will doubtless stock hundreds of carp (illegally) as they have in all their other waters.

My first season on the lake produced no bream.I wasn't alone in that by any means, indeed there were only two bream caught the entire season and the both came on opening day, June 16th when I wasn't there. I was there on June 16th this year and again a very large bream was caught but not by me. Two nights produced just a few line bites but at least I had the opportunity to introduce a quantity of my new bait. The next trip was to be another two-nighter but I was disappointed to discover on arrival that the swim I wanted was already taken. The angler in question was only there for one night so I set up across the lake from him and spent another fishless night in an unfavoured swim.

I moved across the lake next morning and set up next to the angler who was just leaving. He had had some success, though not with the target species by taking two tench, the largest just a little under eight pounds. Nice fish but not what we were there for. The bream in this lake are huge, the smallest that had been caught in recent years was over twelve pounds and the largest approaching twenty but they are so thin on the ground that putting one on the bank is a rare event.

Kevin was to join me for one night so I found and marked several bars for both of us before putting in a quantity of pellets and boilies on each. The largest feature is a large flat gravel bar rising up to five feet but surrounded by water more than twice that depth. Undertow caused by the wind keeps such areas free of silt and weed and they make excellent clean feeding areas for the bream so we concentrated on the bar, placing four baits on it between us.

Kevin arrived and took his time getting set up. He gets more like a carper all the time with his matching rods reels and alarms putting my amateur setup to shame. Before long we were both set up and darkness fell - and so did the rain! It was an awful night with strong winds and frequent heavy showers but I'm used to that by now, this summer is clearly turning out to be a typical British one. Then at two thirty in the morning I heard a different noise, the incessant bleep bleep of a bite alarm.

I grabbed my head torch and stepped out of the bivvy into the elements. Sure enough one of my indicators was jiggling up and then down just a little. I picked up the rod and lifted into the bite expecting to feel a solid resistance but no, nothing! Disappointed, I started the long, slow process of reeling in the rig from 180 yards but I got something of a surprise when I got it close to the bank. There was a fish attached after all - and it was a bream!

I scooped it up and called Kevin to take a couple of photos. At exactly five pounds in weight it was the smallest bream to be caught from this lake in many years, maybe ever, but I didn't care too much. To catch a bream at all here represents success of sorts and at least we know that the bream will eat our chosen bait. What's more we now know a spot where the bream will feed - all we have to do now is catch one four times as big!


kcon93 said...

That's a real shame about the carp and bream. It looks like a beautiful water.

fishingprotips said...

Otters have a lot to answer for! Just look at lakes such as Ashlea pool. Such a shame.