Bream are found in very shallow water and often much closer to shore than we realise. The more noted marks for shore bream are the beaches at Brighton, Shoreham, Littehampton, and also the Isle of Wight, which offers both beach and rock fishing for bream. The rocks and breakwaters in the Channel Isles, especially Alderney Breakwater, and Ronez and the rocky headlands between La Moye and La Corbiere, offer a shot at shore bream. In North Wales bream are taken off Pwllheli Beach and also inside the Menai Straits.
These aren't the only marks. Bream are daytime feeders and are often missed by anglers in other parts of the country where night fishing is the norm. I've seen bream caught from the rocks at Ilfracombe in Devon, also from the rocks around St Ives in Cornwall, from the Gower coast in west Wales and heard anglers report them from the rocky bays around Margate. The opportunities are there, we just have to seek them out.
A good guide is that if the local charter boats catch bream, then somewhere near you there will be a mark where, at times, maybe not all the time, the bream come close enough to be caught from the shore.
HOW TO PICK A BREAM MARK
Bream like two things. They choose rocky, rubbly ground, preferably the rubble, and lots of eel grass and weed beds. They'll settle for shingle banks with light weed growth and this tends to be the type of ground they are feeding over when you're fishing off steep sandy beaches. Some areas have light coral growth, and this too holds the bream.
Depth is not that important. I have a mark that virtually dries out at low water, but the bream feed there happily with just 8-feet of water over their backs during high water. Maybe that's why so few bream are caught from the shore, the anglers are always consciously looking for deeper water and missing the bream holding areas.
Also look for small outcrops of rock that jut out, either off the beach or as true small headlands at the ends of the beaches. Bream will congregate here, especially if the seabed is mixed rough ground. Some rock marks can also be good, but avoid those where the depth exceeds 30-feet. The bream tend to be in water shallower than this, but find a rock mark with an eel grass bed within casting range and you'll have found a really hot mark.
My little black book of past catches has taught me that shore bream marks that fish over low water are very few. It tends to work that the bream appear about three hours or less before high water, and are pretty much gone by about 1 to 2 hours after high water.
If you think about this it makes sense. The shoals of bream are gradually moving inwards as the tide starts to push, getting ever closer to shore. They use the increasing depth to feed over food rich ground untouched since the last tide, then move back out to deeper water as the depth level decreases to intolerable levels, mainly induced by safety.
Even on the deeper rock marks where you have 20-feet of water, they still seem to show only the hours either side if high water. Low water fishing is very slow or not happening at all.
Though the neap tides can still produce reasonable numbers of fish for you, you are far more secure choosing the bigger spring tides, especially those rising towards the highest tides of the cycle. I've noticed that there are always far larger numbers of bream accessing the close in grounds on these tides. Again it makes sense. The bream are using the power of the tide to swim with and this enables them to cover more ground, plus the ground they are feeding over gets disturbed more by the faster tides and gives up more food.
Forget fishing for bream if the weather has been really rough and the sea is badly discoloured. The bream just will not tolerate this. The state of the sea is not that important, though you don't want it too rough if you're fishing a shallow mark as the shoals of bream will move out to deeper quieter water where the swimming is easier.
The best conditions are an overcast sky, relatively calm sea with little swell and gin clear water. Sunny days are okay, but if the water is sub 10-feet the bream can be shy and skittery and bites are difficult to hit.
Bream are not fussy eaters and generally eat what's available. Being a shoal fish they have little option. It still pays to carry some variety as changing baits or trying combination baits can find you the odd better fish as they have definite preferences at certain times.
Number one is mackerel. This is best fished as small strips about one inch by half inch. Cut them neat and leave a little of the flesh on, then pass the hook through the top on the skin side first, then back through the flesh side and skin to leave the point exposed.
Sandeel cut in to small sections and fed over the hook bend and shank and secured with a few wraps of bait elastic is another good one. Small strips of squid work well when the bream have moved off the seabed when the tide falls slack. Lugworm and ragworm are also good, but tend to produce the smaller fish. They even take cockles and small mussels.
For the bigger fish, try peeler crab tipped off with a tiny square section of mackerel or squid, or lugworm with a tippet of mackerel or squid. On mixed ground where you have stones and patches of sand, try half a small sandeel, which I've found good for the biggies. Best big bream bait of all is the abdomen of a hermit crab.
For beach and rock fishing you might need to be able to cast to long range, so stick to a 5-6oz beachcaster, small 6500 sized multiplier or medium fixed spool reel and 15lb line with a 60lb shock leader.
The best rig is two-hook type. Take 30-inches of 60lb mono and tie on a split ring or link at the end for attaching the weight to. Now add a crimp, 2mm bead, size 10 swivel, another bead and a crimp. Position this sequence about 2-inches above the lead link. Now slide on a bait clip in the upside down position, i.e. with the clip pointing upwards. Add another crimp and bead trapped swivel and crimp this in place about 16-inches above the weight, then add another upside down bait clip and finish with a size 4 rolling swivel for attaching to the leader.
The hook traces need to be from 20lb line, preferably something soft like Ultima. The lower one, around 14-inches long, and the upper one shorter at around 10-inches long.
The hooks need to be strong but small. I prefer Mustad 3261 BLN Aberdeen's in size 6. Occasionally, if the fish are running large, I'll go up to a size 4. Bream have small mouths full of little teeth. The small Aberdeen hooks are ideal for maximising point penetration in to their relatively hard mouth, but also the longer shank of the hook keeps the teeth away from the trace line
If you find you want to try lighter tackle for more fun, switch to a carp rod, medium sized fixed spool reel and load it with just 10lb line and a 30lb leader. Add a 2oz weight and switch to a one hook rig with the bait clip positioned normally just above the lead.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BREAM
The bigger bream tend to position themselves at the back of the main shoal with the juveniles up front.
Bream have a needle sharp set of spines running through the dorsal fin similar to bass. When handling bream, cup them in your hand around the belly and just hold them lightly.
Bream bites are typically three fast rattles. They usually hook themselves against a beachcaster and lead, but you'll maybe have to strike them with the carp rod.
Bream will move up off the seabed a few feet when the tide run eases over dead high water, but are normally tight to the seabed when the tide is running fast.