The bream certainly think so, and if you know of a water containing some big fish, now is probably the best chance you have of catching them. A few years ago the close season precluded fishing at this time of year for most of the country, but I can well remember tales of huge catches of bream being made from lakes in the Scottish borders. Castle Loch stand out in my memory as a lake I actually fished, albeit several years later. What was true on those northern waters a decade or more ago is just as true on our southern waters today. Come the middle of March the bream are well catchable and by mid-April they should be reaching their peak for the year.

It is no coincidence that all fish should be quite catchable as the water temperature begins to rise. Whilst there has been a long held belief that this is because the fish must feed up prior to spawning, I am coming around to the view that this is not the real reason. The bream on my local lake won't spawn for another six weeks or so, yet the males already have well-developed spawning tubercles and are losing their protective slime. More likely is that as the water temperature rises above the threshold at which the bream (or any other species for that matter) start to move around, they'll feed more confidently and easily. The other advantages to the angler is that with low well-mixed water, there will be no shortage of dissolved oxygen, which can reduce feeding. Also, densities of suitable invertebrate food for the fish are likely to be less than they will be in a few weeks time.

Although I do like to pre-bait for bream (and most other fish) at this time of year, there is no reason why any of the well documented methods of catching slabs won't work right now. It is more a case of location, which can be a little difficult, particularly as my local fish don't like to show themselves when it is windy or raining (that cuts sightings down to about zero at the moment!). If pushed, I would fish the deeper parts of the shallows, if that makes any sense! The old wives tale about bream holes is just that, bream do not habitually live in the deepest part of the lake. At the moment for example I am fishing to the sides and in a slight depression on a large plateau that is a good few feet shallower than the water around it. If you can though, let the fish tell you where they are, rather than wasting time trying to second guess them.

The bream on my local water are regularly caught into double figures and so they come under quite a bit of pressure through the year. As with all fish, this pressure takes it's toll on the fishing and they can become more difficult to catch. One little ruse that I have used to good advantage recently is to walk around the lake on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon prior to fishing mid-week. Avoiding the weekends greatly increases my chances, but the extra knowledge I gain is also of use. I have two choices when it comes to fishing. I can either bait a swim for a couple of days which has not received any pressure over the weekend. Alternatively, just lately, I have been taking advantage of the feed that has gone in over the weekend and have been fishing over this a couple of days after it's introduction. By just fishing with a method feeder and no other groundbait I minimise the disturbance and have often caught fish within an hour of casting out. I am sure that the bream still need to eat the bait in this heavily stocked lake, but I think that they are resisting the temptation to eat it until it has been in-situ a while. As most anglers only fish for a maximum of 48 hours their chances of not getting caught are greatly increased if they wait a while. Whatever the reasons, it works for me, and that will do until the tench wake up next month!