By far the biggest problem is location, and so this post will deal largely with this issue.
Unlike traditional bream waters, on pits like Wingham the bream donít have set patrol routes. Instead, as has already been pointed out, they seem to graze rather like cows in a field. And like cows they probably feed in the areas that offer the choicest pickings at the time, then move off elsewhere. But that elsewhere could be anywhere!
Whatís more, because thereís so much natural food you canít get the fish to come to you as is possible on many other waters. Additionally, in a lot of swims there are huge depth variations over short distances. Thus both your feeding and casting have got to be very accurate - ideally to within 1 yard.
40 acres is a huge area Ė 193,600 square yards in fact. Even if you divide it into areas as big as 5 yards by 5 yards youíre still talking about over 7700 spots to choose from!
Of course if you can see the bream youíre halfway home. Unfortunately they rarely roll, but if you do spot them it's certainly worth fishing the area. Doing so accounted for my first deliberate double-figure bream. I've rarely seen them roll since, and never when fishing!
So how else can we narrow it down. Others fishing similar waters to Wingham have established that bream don't seem to like feeding over weed. They found that they'd feed in naturally clear holes in the weed, but not in those that had been dragged.
(The next 3 paragraphs I posted on another recent topic, but am repeating here so that everything is kept together.)
The year I started was one of those when I'd treated the weed with herbicide (usually every other year). I thought this would make it even more difficult to locate the bream as they could now feed almost anywhere in the lake!
However, I then had the idea of trying to locate the routes they take in moving from one part of the lake to another and ambush them there, rather than guess where they might actually feed. This narrowed down the search no end and worked beautifully, resulting in my catching 5 bream that summer in about 20 nights. Since then I've not had one!
It's interesting that the highest number of bream have come in the years that the weed has been treated. The following year none were caught at all, the next year 10, last year just 5. I've therefore high hopes for this year, and hopefully amongst the catches will be a record. Goodness knows what the 17-14 caught in April 2004 will weigh now as it still had several years of growth left!
Going back to the routes, how do we decide where they're likely to be? I began with the assumption that the bream would prefer not to change depth substantially when moving from one swim to another. This may or not be true, but you have to start somewhere! Then I looked for places where theyíd be funnelled into a smaller area, perhaps because of a gap in a long bar, or where a series of parallel bars stopped short of a deeper channel or the bank. In each case, if they passed through these places theyíd be more bream in a given area, and thus temporarily a greater stock density and so a greater chance of catching them.
This still gave me a lot of possibilities, but I immediately rejected any swims that required a long cast, say over 75 yards, as the longer the cast the harder it is to fish accurately. I still had too many too choose from though, and therefore started on those closest to the bank.
Unlike many other waters, notably meres and estate lakes, the bream at venues with deep margins seem happy to come very close to the bank Ė as long as theyíre not spooked of course. In fact, all the bream Iíve deliberately caught from Wingham have come no more than 15 feet (yes feet!) from the bank.
The second problem at Wingham and similar low stock density pits is that the bream are almost entirely nocturnal Ė in other words very different to traditional venues. Indeed, until I started night fishing in 2004 Iíd had just 1 bream in 9 years. And that was soon after dawn. Thereís been the odd bream caught in full daylight, but theyíve been very much the exception.
This is the reverse of the tench, although the division between day and night isnít so marked with them. However at Wingham the tench do feed largely in the day, and unlike the bream do like weed. Perch, the other main species at Wingham at present, rarely feed at night on any water, although in summer theyíre very active at dawn.
One recent change and often a big nuisance (as guests found on last yearís Fish-In!) is the eel population. The last 2 years has seen a big increase in the number of eels caught, and as we all know they feed especially hard at night.
This means that if you use an ďanimalĒ bait at night youíre much more likely to catch an eel than a bream Ė or in all probability lots of eels! This disturbance is likely to frighten off the bream, plus you donít know how much of your feed theyíve eaten. Plus of course you donít get a very restful nightís sleep!
This brings me nicely onto baits and groundbaits, but as this post is already overly long Iíll come back to these points later.
Iíll close by reiterating that I donít know much about big bream. Iíve fished for them for just 4 years, and because of poor health havenít been able to do much fishing at all in the last 2 summers. Additionally, what little I have learned has been just at Wingham and so may not apply even to other low stock pits. It certainly doesnít apply to traditional bream waters!
Edited by Steve Burke, 29 March 2008 - 08:25 PM.