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.