By Terry Theobald
When the nights are drawing out and the clocks are imminently about to shoot forward an hour, it is always warming to know, as sure as the buds on the trees burst into life, the bream in our gravel pits are shaking off the rigours of Winter and looking to feed in earnest to give strength for the impending spawning ritual.
For several years my Spring onslaught in search of a huge slab has taken me to a beautiful charismatic seventy acre mature gravel pit in deepest Gloucestershire and mid March 2013 saw my size eleven boots once again trudge across the field with a pained look upon my face as a laden trolley is pushed before me.
The pit is a wonder in itself with an array of birdlife to keep you occupied. Flocks of Grey lag and Canadian geese fight for supremacy, sometimes cackling all night keeping weary anglers awake for many hours. Owls call from all corners of the pit, bats flit in and out of the trees in search of tasty winged morsels and on occasion the bone chilling screech of a rabbit echo’s through the trees as it meets a grisly death in the teeth of a cunning fox and always there are the early arriving sand martins taking flies off the surface. All this adds to the atmosphere of a place that has an electric vibe all of its own and, beneath the surface live carp, bream and tench of huge proportions.
The carp used to fill my mind, but now the attentions have turned to the bream that, when seen ghosting underneath the boat are huge to the eye and many times mistaken for carp.
In March 2013 I bit the bullet and made my way to the pit in conditions that were to say the least arctic, still, the bream were there and hopefully ready to eat their fill of my tasty offerings. Surprise, surprise, the weather was atrocious and I blanked miserably, so, plans were put on hold because of the freezing conditions.
Early April I did manage to get to the lake for an over night session and I was pleased to get one take during the night that was a nice fish of a little over 10lb, I was off the mark. It wasn’t until 15 April that my next visit was scheduled and for a change the weather was quite favourable with South Westerly winds, patchy cloud and a bit of sun.
On arrival at the lake I chose to fish a swim half way up a spit that juts out into the lake about two hundred yards. To the left of the swim about a hundred yards out is a mature Island that shelters the water I would be casting too from the wind a little.
I readied the bivvy, bedchair and other assorted kit and then it was time to throw the life jacket on and head out in search of a nice bit of ground to place my markers. As I slowly made my way out against the breeze I spotted a couple of bream, my hopes were lifted as I knew the shoal were nearby and shouldn’t move. Seventy yards out from the bank a large patch of clean gravel and thin silt was discovered in amongst beds of rotting Canadian pondweed and it was either side of this spot the H blocks were placed about twenty yards apart in five feet of water.
An hour before a bright red dusk I was accompanied in the boat by a 5 litre bucket of crushed vitalin mixed with two tins of sweetcorn and a kilo of crushed betaine pro boilies from The Hookbait Company and a lot of water to make it sloppy and cloudy. This bucket of slop was spread all over the swim between the markers and on top was scattered at least four kilo of betaine pro pellet, as in my opinion bream will walk across land to get to anything betaine and the pro pellets are an excellent attractor, often bringing bream into the swim in a very short time.
My rigs were made up of one with fake corn that had been soaking in betaine liquid popped up and critically balanced just to lift the hook off bottom, the second had a straight forward 12mm betaine pro boilie on a hair attached to a size 10 Drennan specimen hook and, the third had three pieces of sweetcorn on a hair and all were cast out with a pva bag of betaine pro pellet attached.
Settling back in the chair on a beautiful evening my anticipation was at fever pitch, there were bream rolling not more than fifty yards away and I just knew they would arrive soon to feast on my bait.
At about 10.30pm I hit the sack a little disappointed nothing had happened and then as always happens when I got comfortable a single beep on the boilie baited rod indicated the arrival of what I was waiting for, a shoal of bream. I sat watching the bobbin and it twitched without a beep and then it moved up an inch before dropping about four. I hovered waiting and when the bobbin rose with purpose I picked up the rod and felt a weight on the end that was unmistakably a bream. In the darkness it came closer and was soon in the net and to my satisfaction it was a nice two tone fish that was weighed at a very pleasing 11lb 6oz that I put into a large pegged out keep net ready for an early morning photo.
Whenever bream fishing I always use a large keep net and only ever put two bream at most into it. As the fish get bigger I take the smallest one out and release it until I am left with the two largest to photograph.
Within the hour after several line bites another positive bite came to the sweetcorn and a brief battle was had with another two tone fish that was almost identical apart from being two ounces lighter at 11lb 4oz.
After this fish things went quiet for an hour and then a few twitches and bleeps indicated that the shoal had possibly come back and in no time another fish was hooked and this time it felt a bit heavier and turned out to be a short fat gorgeously coloured bream of 13lb 2oz, wow what a night!
It doesn’t take long for a shoal of bream to mop up a bed of bait and by 3am I guessed it had all gone as things had gone quiet, yet, just before day broke in the sky behind me another drop back came out of the blue and this fish turned out to be a fin perfect young looking bream of 10lb 9oz, a great way to finish a session.
The next morning I went out in the boat to the baited area and it had been cleaned out as I guessed it would be.
In previous years I have put out as much as twenty kilo of bait for a one night session just to keep the fish in the swim long enough when they are feeding hard. A couple of guys on the lake spend the night spodding over the top of the shoal which doesn’t spook them at all and is very successful. I must admit to not particularly wanting to do this as it is hard work and I am too old and need my rest and, that is another reason I bait heavily and spread it around a lot.
If it is big pit bream you are interested in I would recommend baiting heavily with a good sloppy mix and the one thing I can recommend is the pulling power of betaine pro pellets from the Hookbait Company which should always spread over the top to get the bream searching for longer.
Best of luck