Bleak (Alburnus alburnus) live in large shoals and skilled anglers can catch several in a minute. Read more about this fish including hints and tips on how to catch one.

Bleak, courtesy of Jack Perks Bleak, courtesy of Jack Perks

Many canal pounds close to the confluence with a river will contain bleak.

Carl Nicholls, fisheries & angling manager

Appearance: these tiny fish have bright silvery sides, a small head and a very large eye compared to its size. Bleak have a forked tail and can be distinctly identified by a keeled belly and an upturned mouth with a protruding lower jaw. Their scales easily detach and care should be taken when handling.

British record: 4oz 9dms (British record committee 2015)

Lateral line scale count: 46-55 (this is the dark row of scales along the central length of the fish's body)

Lifespan: three to five years

We like bleak because: they can occur in shoals so vast that skilled anglers can catch a fish every 15 seconds in a five-hour competition

How to catch a bleak 

Like the rudd, the bleak primarily feeds at the surface. This can make them difficult to catch at times and a 'trial and error' feeding approach is usually required to strike a balance between bites and fish hooked. Anglers have adopted an approach of using an overly wetted groundbait with maggots and hemp included. When fed constantly, this sloppy mix creates a fine cloud of suspended particles at the surface of the water which gives the bleak the ability to feed with confidence. A fine line and small hooks are a must. Some anglers have adopted a technique, when fishing very shallow, of curling the hook length line so the fish feel less resistance.

Where to catch a bleak

They are primarily caught in river fisheries but many canal pounds close to the confluence with a river will contain bleak.

Read more about bleak, glorious bleak.

Last date edited: 24 December 2020