Once the chub fishing had came to an end in mid March, as did the river season, Gary and myself started planning our next target.
Well, saying that, we'd already talked through a few ideas towards the back end of last year, and having a go for the bream in the Spring was just one of them, a mental note was made at the time and now it was just a case of confirming our plans.
If you've followed my blog over the years many of you will know that I've never had a double figure bream, and so it's been a target that I aim for every now and again. My other fishing buddy Bob is always quick to point out that I should go to Walthamstow reservoirs, or Landridge, where I would not only stand a very good chance of getting my 'double' there, but would probably land a 'big' double at that.
All very nice, but I quite like to set these targets within the confines of the club waters I have on my tickets, it just gives the fishing campaigns a little more direction for me. So with our Spring and Summer fishing being on what are essentially seen as carp waters I like to vary it a bit and give some of my attention to the tench, bream, or other species that might also inhabit these waters.
Gary on the other hand loves his carping, as do I at the right time, but he enjoys getting into the total carp mindset for the duration of the 7 or 8 months we usually chase this species, and this is often demonstrated by the number of cracking carp he puts on the bank. But he's also a good mate and realises we can have a crack at the bream which will allow me to chase my quest, while he either joins in or sets his stall out for the carp.
So bream it is then, and we choose a club water that's had a reasonable history of producing good fish, and it's also a lake we want to explore for future trips.
It's near the end of March and we're on our first outing, I arrive first and settle down in a double swim near the far end of the lake, not far from an island that almost spans the width of this water. With a nice expanse of open water out in front the plan is to Spomb out a reasonably large bed of groundbait to first attract, and then hold the fish, while we fish our baits on, or very near it.
Nothing to complicated there, and with a little marker work I find we've got a reasonably flat, silty bottom about 40yds out with a depth of around 18ft. Out comes the Spomb and I start to put out some groundbait, a mixture of hemp, corn, pellet, and general groundbait mix, and as I'm almost finished Gary arrives.
The marker is left out and we're soon getting the rods clipped up to the same distance, marking our lines so we can get back out accurately to the same spot each cast even in the dark. Then it's rod pods out, alarms and indicators set, and we're fishing... now where's the kettle!
And to prove the method works as we're nearly finished setting up our brollies I get my first run. It's the usual type of bream bite, with a few bleeps then a couple more, and you watch your bobbin tighten up, then drop, then rise again. I hit it and feel an initial pull before the bream gives up and it's just a question of winding it in.
It goes 8lb 5ozs, so not a bad start to the session, and as the evening progresses we have a couple more before we finally decide to grab some sleep.
By the morning we'd had a dozen, all between seven and a half and eight and a half pounds, proving that there is a good stamp of fish in here, but no doubles so far. Another good sign is the lack of crayfish activity, which the lakes and pits in the Lea Valley region nearly all suffer from.
The next trip was a mid-week day session, I was on my own and headed back toward the same swim only to find it occupied, as were the couple of swims near to it. Obviously we weren't the only ones who liked this area. So I made my way right round the back of the island and came out on the opposite side of the lake.
My general set-up was the same, only this time I wasn't fishing far out, in fact I could chuck in the groundbait by hand as I was going to fish a spot just at the entrance to the channel between the bank and the island.
Hook bait was the same as well, I was using two pieces of popped up artificial corn, even though we'd found the bream were happy to take boilies, wafters, pellets, as well as artificials.
Again I didn't have to wait long for some action and was soon playing a lively bream into the net. It looked to be around the same size as we'd caught before so wasn't worth weighing, it was quickly returned, and with one of the big advantages of fishing plastics (besides being crayfish proof) is that it's a quick check of the bait and then straight back out.
Soon after relaxing back in my chair I find I have company, it's one of the guys from the other side of the lake, and it seems my catch didn't go unnoticed. He asks how I'm fishing and I tell him it's nothing complicated and run through my set-up, and while he's there I get a few beeps on one of the rods but it doesn't result in a take. He then lets on that even after a couple of nights him and the other lads have only had one bream between them.
So just to rub salt in the wound I go on to catch another five, and even have the 'fun' of two on at once! The biggest goes 8lb 3ozs.
As the weeks pass through April Gary and myself try plenty of different swims all around the lake, and even though we catch on every trip the numbers are starting to fall. We've had between 30 and 40 of them so far and still no sign of any over the 10lb barrier, which is strange as the club website seems to mention anglers having 10, 11, and even 12lb'ers almost weekly... perhaps they've got those 'magic' scales?
Gary's finally got fed up with catching 'snotties' and is now concentrating on the carp and I'm trying different tactics to entice the bream back but it's fairly obvious that spawning has taken preference in their minds. I even try a maggot feeder, and though I start catching some lovely roach over 1lb+, they're not what I'm after, and with the constant beeping from small fish I soon pull the rod in to get some sleep during the night.
Now we're into May and we get a run of overnighters back at the original double swim we started in and instead of covering the open water Gary is putting all his baits onto very 'carpy' spots up against the island. He's using 20mm boilies now as the cray's have finally woken up and at that size you still have a fishable bait left by the morning.
So with overhanging branches, snags, and nice margin features being targeted its no surprise that he soon has a proper run which results in a nice mid-double common, while yours truly is having trouble getting any sort of contact out in open water now.
The following week we're back there again and Gary goes one better, this time he's getting bites on all his rods, not from carp but from bream. They seem to be tucked up tight into the island margins and with one run seeming for a moment to be another carp it's a slight disappointment when it turns out to be another bream. Though once on the mat for unhooking we both realise this one needs weighing as it's definitely larger than we've had before. It goes 10lb 2ozs.
Well the double figure bream has finally been caught, even though I was the one after it, and Gary was supposed to be carping. But it proves they're in there, and very kindly Gary offers me his swim the next week. Using the same bait, the same rigs, and out on the same spots you can probably guess what happens next, I catch nothing!
We carry on through June and pick up one or two fish each visit, but the cray's are becoming a nightmare if you're using proper bait, and with the bream going back to the 8lb stamp even I'm thinking more about the carp, my bream challenge is starting to wane, and now we're talking about what venue we can go to next for some better carp action.
Look's like my quest will go on!